Lankatilaka Vihara is an ancient Buddhist temple situated in the Udunuwara area in Kandy. It is considered as the most magnificent architectural creation created during the Gampola era.
The Lankatilake temple also named as the Sri Lankathilaka Rajamaha Viharaya has located 18 km to the Southwest of Kandy and 15 km to the North of Gampola. It is made on a rock called “Panhalgala” in the village of Rabbegamuwa in the Udunuwara division of Kandy District.
The fastest route to reach Lankatilaka is to take the Kandy-Colombo main road (A1) to Pilimatalawa and then take the B116 road to the South.
The history of the temple unfolds back to the 14th century. This temple was built by King Bhuvanekabahu IV, who reigned in Sri Lanka from 1341 to 1351 A. D. Later he entrusted the construction of this temple to his Chief Minister named Senalankadhikara, who was successful in completing the temple. It is mentioned that the architecture of the temple was designed by a South Indian architect named Sathapati Rayar. Sathapati Rayar designed this temple using Sinhalese architecture of the Polonnaruwa era and also with other Dravidian and Indo Chinese architectural patterns.
Lankatilaka is the most important monument made during the Gampola period. On the other hand, the large rock inscription named “Shila Lekhana” which can be seen on the solid rock surface at the Southwestern side of the temple building is the most significant historical source made during the beginnings of the Gampola period.
The main shrine room of the Lankatilaka Vihara is a typical image house consisting of Buddha statues and paintings. As in the Indian architecture of Hindu temples, the chamber containing the main idol of the temple is called Garbhagriha, which means the “uterus house”. The decorations are mostly from the Kandyan period. The shrine room of Lankatilaka is open to the public, as it is a combination of Garbhagriha and Mandapa, a Mandapa being the hall for prayers. In Indian temples, both rooms are usually separated by a door. In the case of Lankatilaka, they both form one single room. This is why it is spacious when compared to other Garbhagrihas.
The Buddhist shrine room of Lankatilaka Vihara consists of two parts, the Garbhjariha or Garbha House consisting of the statues and the Mandapa hall allowing visitors to pray in front of them. This combination is called an image house in English, Pathimagara in Pali, or Pilimage in Sinhala. In this way, it connects the worshipped idol and the worshippers more closely than in most Hindu temples, where the two rooms are usually separated like the earlier temples from the late Anuradhapura period and particularly from the Polonnaruwa period. Tivanka Pilimage being one of Polonnaruwa’s largest image houses is decorated with murals, particularly at the side walls.
The Lankatilaka Temple has an outer ring of shrines for Hindu deities, which can be entered from the western side, whereas the entrance to the main shrine for Lord Buddha is facing east. In front of the western entrance to the Hindu shrine is a small hall, partly open at breast height. It’s named as a Digge, “Dig-Ge” which means “drumming house”. It’s a hall for music performances.
Lankathilaka Vihara is a unique and significant temple in Sri Lanka that serves as a major tourist point. Visit this temple to be astonished by the beautiful creations made back in the past.
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