Ancient temple of Gadaladeniya etched in stone

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Kandy is a beautiful city of culture located in the up country 115 kms and 3 hours ride from Colombo. Along the way past the Kadugannawa climb and close to Kandy are three major architecturally rich sites belonging to the Gampola period. The first of these important architectural sites is found in Pilimathawa and 7km interior along Daulagala road. Then you find the Gadaladeniya temple complex of the 14th century, perched on a rock outcrop.

Early morning mild winds blew over the hill area. As I clambered up the steps cut on the rock a striking building arose into view. It had close resemblance to a Hindu shrine with those tall Shikaras. As if the design was a battle between two, even though the temple had an unusual likelihood of a Hindu shrine, the one with taste for Buddhist architecture seem to have won. On top of massive, flat granite slabs, were bubble shaped pagodas. A large stupa was taking the center place with two other smaller ones on either sides. Through the main entrance and into the belly of the temple complex was the image house. Inside under a decorative Makara Thorana was a large statue of Buddha in seated position. Other images and paintings on the walls were fading with age. Taking the full circle around the temple complex two other smaller rooms were found to be shrines belonging to Hindu deities. Strong influence of Hinduisms flowed into Buddhist temples following the Polonnaruwa era and is even seen today.

Two small natural pools on the rocky surface were filled with water and had purple water lilies floating in them. Nature on its own accord pay respect to the many Gods, without human intervention. At the entrance to the image house are two elaborately carved stone pillars that were impressions to behold. On either side of the steps are two proud Gajasinghe carvings on granite with artfully curling tails and startling eyes. These mythical creatures are a combination of elephant and lion.

In close proximity to Gadaladeniya temple are two other places forming an architectural trinity of sorts beckoning travelers taking the Colombo-Kandy route. The other two are Embekke Devale and Lanakathilaka temple.

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