Perched atop a hill facing the Mahaweli River, Earls Regency is the only Five Star among Kandy hotels. This one of prominent Central Province hotels Sri Lanka not only offers beautiful views from almost every room but is a luxurious base for travelers wishing to experience the exceptional ancient heritage of its location.
Among the green rice paddies in the interior of Pilimatalawa, a small town on the Colombo – Kandy road, is Gadaldeniya Temple built by King Buwanekabahu IV in the mid 14th century according to an inscription on the temple premises. The inscription also identifies Ganesvarachari, who was of South Indian origin, as the architect. This makes it a ‘gedige’, a temple with a rectangular plan built in stone and decorated with carvings according to the South Indian style. Although dated to the 14th century the interior murals and statues are said to date from the later Kandyan Period.
The most arresting feature here is the main stupa, a bubble shaped structure on a flat rock underneath a canopy held up by four stocky pillars with 4 smaller stupas round it in a cruciform shape. Each stupa has its own small shrine room underneath the domes with statues of the seated Buddha. These shrine rooms also feature fading murals and low relief sculptures of deities on ‘makara thoranas’ or decorative archways round the Buddha statues.
Among the other surviving artifacts are the temple’s outstanding stone carvings that have influenced the country’s sculptors to this day. Rectangular stone pillars with lotus flowers and mythical beasts and smaller decorative hexagonal pillars hold up a stone slab at the entrance. Shallow stone steps with carvings in between, a low balustrade along the steps with stone carvings of a beast known as ‘gajasimha’ that is half man half elephant and crouching lion carvings atop pillars enliven the entranceway. The statue of the seated Buddha in the main shrine room is also of stone but plastered over and gilded. There are statues of the standing Buddha also in the main shrine room. Other interesting features include a low relief wall carving of Shiva Nataraja with hair flying in the motion of the dance, a shrine dedicated to Vishnu, a six hundred year old jak wood door at the entrance to the main shrine room with vestiges of ancient lacquer still clinging on to it and a painted wooden chest containing paintings and sculptures and brass rice pots in which offerings have been placed for centuries. The mix of Buddhist and Hindu images in the temple indicate a belief system that persists up to now. The temple was originally named for its founding monk but over time took on the name of the village nearby.
Thanuja Silva is a travel writer who writes under the pen name Auburn Silver. She has a passion for fashion and a deep interest in admiring new and exotic attractions around the world. Google+