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Lankatilaka Raja Maha Viharaya

Considered to be one of the best preserved temples of the Gampola Kingdom that thrived during the 14th Century, the Lankatilaka Raja Maha Viharaya is a jewel of a temple in Kandy, as it serves to be one of the last edifices of the Sri Lankan kingdoms before colonialism took its course. Boasting of intricate carvings, murals and a large statue of Lord Buddha, the temple also serves to be a domain for 5 other deities that are intertwined in ancient Buddhist and Hindu teachings, making this historic site a melting pot of culture.

Best Known For

  • The Lankatilaka Raja Maha Viharaya is famed for being one of the foremost historical sites of the pre-colonial era in the country that best showcases the society and culture that prevailed during the 14th Century.
  • Boasting of architectural significance in the form of unique sculptures, paintings and murals, along with South Indian, Dravidian and Indo-Chinese styles, the temple is an eclectic fusion of notable architectural styles from the ancient world.
  • The temple is also known for being a place of solitude and peace, as it provides an unhindered view of the distant mountain ranges, along with a peaceful atmosphere surrounded by lush greenery of the hill country.

Interesting Facts

  • According to the inscriptions on the rocky outcrop, the temple was built in the 14th Century,during the reign of King Bhuvanekabahu IV of the Gampola Kingdom.
  • The king entrusted his chief minister, Senalankadhikara, to build a temple signifying the strong culture that resonated within the kingdom.
  • The chief minister, then entrusted a reputed Indian architect, Sathapati Rayar to construct the architectural masterpiece.
  • The architect incorporated designs inspired by South Indian, Dravidian and Indo-Chinese styles, thus the reason as to why it looks very similar to the temples found in Odisha, India.
  • The temple was built on the rocky outcrop, known as Panhangala Rock and utilises the stability of the rocky outcrop as its foundation.
  • Moreover, the temple was designed with a number of intricately carved sculptures, murals and paintings and even a large statue of Lord Buddha under the ‘Makara Thorana’ (Dragon’s arch) facing the serene views of the Hantana Mountain Range.
  • What makes this temple quite an intriguing one, when compared to others in the country is the fact that the temple proves to be the domain of 5 other deities, namely; God Upulvan, Ganapathi, Saman, Vibhishana and Kumara Bandara, of which the latter is the guardian deity of the entire temple.
  • Due to the separate ‘devales’ (structures dedicated to a particular deity) created for Hindu deities, the temple doubles as a place of worship for both Buddhists and Hindus, making it a unique melting pot.
  • Apart from the architectural and religious significance, the temple also boasts of a natural significance as well.
  • The temple provides unhindered views of the hill country, complete with a peaceful atmosphere; overlooking vast lands of paddy cultivation that goes all the way up to the distant Hantana Mountain Range, the spiritual place certainly allows you to find your inner peace.
  • Due to the numerous features the temple possesses, the temple is etched in the annals of Sri Lankan history to be one of the more unique temples in the country, so much so that the image of the temple is included in the LKR 500 note.

Times, Seasons and Tips

  • This cultural site in Sri Lanka is open for the public daily, from 8.00am to 6.00pm, however, the ideal time to visit the historical site is during Poya Days (full moon days), during the evening when the sun starts setting in the distant horizon, as the atmosphere is just perfect.
  • It is important to note that the Buddhist temple in Kandy is a sacred place of worship, therefore it is imperative that you wear modest attire that respects the religion.
  • Please adhere to the rules set forth by the temple authorities and refrain from bringing any polythene or plastic to the premises, as the temple complex is one of untarnished natural beauty.
  • You will have to enter the temple complex by removing your shoes at the entrance, which means walking barefoot on the rocky outcrop that can get quite hot during the afternoon and evening. Therefore, it is recommended that you bring along socks to withstand the heat.

To be depicted in the LKR 500 note certainly makes the temple all the more significant and enticing to visit and discover its unique features and intriguing history. A visit to the temple is a must, during your travels around Kandy and the hill country.

Title image by: Haaziq Reza The information displayed is provided by Lankatilaka Raja Maha Viharaya

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Entrance Fee
LKR 300

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Culture and Heritage

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