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Embekke Temple

  Province Central
  District Kandy
  Nearest Town Pilimathalawa
  Period 14th century
  Ruler -


Like Gadaladeniya and Lankatilaka, the Embekke temple or devale dates from the 14th century and shares a location along the axis of the very symmetrical Gadaladeniya Synform, a geologic basin. But while Gadaladeniya is of stone and Lankatilaka of brick, Embekke is of an ironwood, specifically of the na tree, Mesua nagassarium, the national tree of Sri Lanka.

The shrine at the rear is closed: few villagers have ever seen the image within it of Kataragama. In the foreground is a ritual hall, or digge, very similar to the Royal Audience Hall, or Magulmaduva, adjoining the Temple of the Tooth in Kandy and, for that matter, the Independence Memorial Hall in Colombo.

His columns in the hall are intricately carved. Like those of the Magulmaduva in Kandy, they're also replacements, in this case from 1948.

At the far end, 26 rafters are held in place by a single pin, or madol kurupuwa.

Many of the several hundred carvings are abstract compositions based on vegetation.

Embekke Devale

Around 13 km from the Kandy city, a Buddhist temple dates from the 14th century is situated in the village "Arathtana". It is decorated by wooden columns richly carved with animals, dancers, and wrestlers.

A drummer in this village, who had a skin disease, decided to go to the Temple of Katharagama - a temple in the southern part of Sri Lanka to get a cure. His illnesses were cured after promising to worship the temple annually. Due to his old age, he's unable to continue annual ritual travel .So he praied the god that, as he was too old. Then the god of katharagama made a prediction of a miracle near Arathtana and ordered him to perform rituals there.

Gardener of the flower garden in Embekke of Queen Henakanda Bissobandara tried to remove a "Kaduru" tree from the garden. When he cut it a stream of blood began to flow from the tree. After knowing it, drummers perform the rituals there as he was ordered to do by the god. He built a small temple called the "Embekke Devalaya".After some days the king Wickramabahu in Senkadagala era, ordered to build a three story building there and gave land, queens' jewelry and elephants as gifts. Since then the temple of Embekka is worshiped by people. Today, the drummers' relatives perform rituals in Embekke.

Embekka is unique, because it owns some of the greatest carvings in Sri Lanka. There are total of eight buildings built for the temple of Embekka. Six buildings are in the inner temple, and two of them outside. The structures that are inside the surrounding wall are known as the 'inner temple'. The structures that are outside the wall are known as the 'outer temple'.

Therefore it is a famous travel destination in Sri Lanka for visitors in their Sri Lanka tour.


Passing Suriyagoda Viharaya in Yati Nuwara you come across two more historical locations, Dodanwela Devalaya and Danthre Viharaya. These can also be reached by the main road from Alakolange.

It is said that the King Rajasighe II (1635 - 1687) was on his way to Balana to battle the Portuguese when his palanquin snapped and he had to alight at the Dodanwela. He asked where this place was and was informed this was called "Nahimige Kovila". Then the king made a wow to present his crown and the jewels to the kovila if he wins the battle. The king was victorious and the promise was kept. Dedicated to a local deity in the past, now it is dedicated to Vishnu and is now called Dodanwela Devale.The Royal crown that was gifted to the Devale was placed in the Kandyan Museum which was stolen recently by treasure hunters.

The Devale in architecture is similar to Vishnu Devale in Kandy but the inner sanctum has no Vishnu image. Instead there are two portraits of Kings painted on wood which one is believed to be of King Rajasighe II. It also preserves two embroidered silk jackets believed to be belonging to the king and dozen of swards. Another curious abject here is a brass crown which is said to be of King Vesamuni, the king of the daemons.