Lankathilaka – a Magnificent Architectural Edifice of Gampola Era


Murals, sculptures and architecture makes the Lankathilaka Viharaya a sight to behold. The last of the three historical sites visited enroute to Kandy, this place tops the list.

Taking off the Colombo – Kandy route at Pilimathalawa junction we come 4 kms along the Dualagala road and past the Gadaladeniya temple to reach the Lankathilaka Viharaya. The approach to the temple is an upward climb using steps cut on the rock. As you stop a bit to catch your breath on the ascend, you can take your time to enjoy great views of the lush green valleys below.

Lankathilka which is considered as the most magnificent architectural edifice was created during the Gampola era. Built by Parakramabahu the Great, who took to throne from 1153 AD and remained in power till 1186 AD, the Lankathilaka Viharaya, is characterized by the best features of Sri Lankan architectural style. The temple also underwent subsequent renovation during the reign of Dabadeniya in the 13th century.

According to the Professor Senarath Paranavithana, South Indian architect Sathapati Rayar designed this temple using Sinhalese architecture of Polonnaruwa era combined with Dravidian and Indo Chinese architectural patterns.

The most striking feature about the Lankathilaka it that it is built on a natural rock called Panhalgala Rock. Among the buildings the image house is outstanding with pillars endowed in intricate sculptures of vines and flowers. This structure is done in rock and covered with white plaster.

At the entrance is an impressive Makara Thorana above the giant doorway, the workings of which trails down is held by two lions. The steps that make way to the entrance is entirely done in rock with the traditional welcome of a Sadakadapahana (half-moon structure) at the base and Gajasinghe sculptures on either side of the balustrade. A magnificent 12-foot image of Buddha takes center place in the interior. Some of the other sculptures are showing signs of decay. However the murals covering the walls and the ceilings of the image house are amazing. One has to have hours to spare to observe the detailed embellishments lovingly crafted by the masters in these paintings and murals belonging to the Kandyan era.

According to the facts recorded in the Lankatilake copper plaque, this image house was construct as a four storied mansion with height of eighty feet, but today only three stories can be seen. The image house has five devales devoted to four deities with separate entrances.

There are many other features in the temple premises including a large imprint of the Buddha’s foot, (Sripathula) found near the Bo tree.

As you stroll in the ample space of tranquility you can almost feel the pulse of the men and women of yesteryear – those you came for peace of mind like anyone of us.


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