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Updated by Joanna James on Jul 13, 2023
Headline for Iconic Temples in Kandy - Discover the ancient craftsmanship and savour a sense of tranquillity visiting these temples!
Joanna James Joanna James
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Iconic Temples in Kandy - Discover the ancient craftsmanship and savour a sense of tranquillity visiting these temples!

Kandy was the last kingdom of Sri Lanka playing a unique role throughout the history of the island. It is no wonder that many significant and beautiful temples are dotted around the city. Read on to learn about some of the iconic temples you must visit during your tour of this charming island.


Four-storeyed Lankatillake Temple

Situated in the charming Hiripitiya village in the Kandy District, this majestic temple was built on an uneven rock bed designed by the South Indian architect Sthapathi Rayar. The Hantane Mountain Range provides a scenic backdrop to this temple. At present only the ground floor and a part of the second storey are visible. Many guests from hotels in Kandy Sri Lanka find a visit here a unique experience as the superior architectural features are still evident and it is clear that along with worshipping Lord Buddha, sections of the temple have been assigned to devotion to Hindu deities as was prevalent in the Kandyan era.


The majestic temple of the Tooth

This is one of the foremost revered temples by the Buddhists not only from Sri Lanka but from all over the world. A tooth relic of Lord Buddha lies ensconced in an inner chamber of the temple, thus drawing scores of Buddhists and other visitors. Apart from this the temple itself depicts many features of architecture and skilful craftsmanship of a bygone era. The special procession held in August every year over several days is another remarkable event to witness enabling Buddhists to pay homage to this sacred tooth relic. If you are staying at Cinnamon Citadel Kandy, this attraction is easy to reach.


Colourful Gadaladeniya Temple

Named after the village in which this temple has been constructed, Gadaladeniya Temple is built over a rock and was designed by a South Indian architect Ganeshvararchchi. Therefore features of South Indian influence are visible in the design of Lord Buddha's wide-open eyes, the neck and brow area are lined with wrinkles, the pillars and walls that carry carvings of elephants and dancers etc. Although fallen into disrepair during the late 17th century, it was maintained from the early 18th century. The most remarkable features are the fine statue of the seated Lord Buddha framed by a dragon arch and the deities surrounding the statue, as well as the main stupa or dagoba with a roof over it, held on four pillars, the four small stupas encircling the main stupa are positioned in four different directions.


Ambekke Devale

Located in Ambekke Village just outside of Kandy this is a charming temple created out of wood. Although it had three storeys originally the upper two floors had collapsed over time. The main sanctum houses the statue of the god, the dance hall was supposed to be used by the Queen in that era and the wooden pavilion which is the drummers' hall is worth a close inspection to view the intricate wood carvings. It is a good experience to be present at pooja time at this drummer's hall to view the proceedings.


Historical Galmaduwa Rajamaha Viharaya

This temple declared an archaeologically protected monument, is a blend of Hindu Temple and Buddhist Temple designs and only such one in Sri Lanka. Made of granite this is an enormous structure and is different to all other temples in this area as Hindu architectural design based on Tanjore tradition is prominent in this creation. The upper storeys diminishing in size represent a Vimana as visible at Hindu temples and are created out of stone masonry. A large statue of seated Lord Buddha is within this main shrine room whilst the inner walls and ceiling are decorated with murals of the ancient Kandyan era. A site worth exploring.

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