Friday, November 30, 2018

Embekke Devalaya

Embekke Devalaya, Kandy
Embekke Devalaya is a historic shrine in the village of Embekka in Kandy District, Sri Lanka. The site is located on the Embekka - Pilimatalawa road, about 7 km from Pilimatalawa road. Embekka Devalaya is considered as the place which has the greatest collection of wood carvings found in Sri Lanka (Rajapakse et al., 2010).

According to the traditional asserts, Embekke was the audience hall of the Gampola Kings which have been later converted and dedicated to the Sinhalese war-god Kartikeya, popularly known as Kataragama Deviyo. A local deity called Devata Bandara is also worshiped here (Godakumbura, 2011). It is believed that this Devalaya was established by King Vikramabahu III [(1357-1374 A.D.) Godakumbura, 2011; Rajapakse et al., 2010]. Kirala Sandeshaya, a poetry written during the Kandyan period, mentions this shrine as Mahasen Devalaya (Rajapakse, 2016).  

The temple complex
Totally eight buildings can be seen in the site. Vahalkada (the entrance), Maha Devalaya (the main shrine), Palle Devalaya, Muruthengeya (the kitchen), Vee Atuwa (rice container) and the Buddha shrine are located in the temple premises while Rittageya (Embekke Ambalama)  and Sinhasana Geya (the throne house) are found outside of the temple. 

The porch at the entrance to the enclosure of the temple is called as Vahalkada and said to be the oldest construction found in the site (Godakumbura, 2011). It has been built on a quadrangle base of about 2.5 feet height and the roof is supported by 10 wooden pillars fixed to it. The pillars also contain fine wood carvings similar to the carvings those found on the pillars in the Hewisi Mandapaya. The structure is 22 feet 11 inches in length and 18 feet 8 inches in width.
Maha Devalaya consists of five parts; the Garbha, Pirith Kiyana Ge, Antharalaya or Meda Digge, Sandun Kudama and Digge or Hewisi Mandapaya, Embekke, Kandy The soldier, Embekke, Kandy
The main shrine (Maha Devalaya) consists of five parts; the Garbha (the sanctom), Pirith Kiyana Ge (Dhamma enchanting house), Antharalaya or Meda Digge, Sandun Kudama and Digge (dancing hall) or Hewisi Mandapaya (drummers' hall). The temple has earned a great attention of visitors because of the splendid low relief wood carvings found on the pillars and the high-pitched roof of the Hewisi Mandapaya (Godakumbura, 2011). It has been built on a quadrangle stone base of 34 inches high and contains 32 wooden pillars bearing the roof. In the medial panels of the wooden pillars contain the finest Sinhalese wood carvings including the swan figures, double headed eagle, the women growing out of the vine, bacchanalian figures, a wrestling pair, dancers, soldiers etc. (Godakumbura, 2011). The upper part of the pillars are decorated with dropping lotuses. The Madol Kurupawa (or Keni Madala), a giant catch pin (wood) which holds 26 rafters at the northern part of the roof contain no single metal pin used and is considered as a special piece of work. Totally, 514 wood carvings (including 128 medial panel carvings, 256 Liyapath Wardana carvings, 64 Pekada Nelum carvings, 30 Balka and 36 Thalada carvings) are found in the Hewisi Mandapaya. 
The soldier on horseback, Embekke, Kandy Pekada carvings, Embekke, Kandy
Madol Kurupawa (Keni Madala), Embekke, Kandy The lion, Embekke, Kandy
The small hall which is entered through the Hewisi Mandapaya is called Sandun Kudama. The entrance door is decorated with a small Makara Thorana (the dragon arch) accompanied with two lion figures. The hall is opened to three directions. The left door directs the visitors to the Palle Devalaya, the right to the Buddha shrine and the straight door to the Antharalaya, Pirith Kiyana Ge and Gharbha chambers.

A seated Buddha image decorated with a Makara Thorana, standing Buddha figures and wall paintings are found in the Buddha shrine. The temple can be entered through three door ways, of them the middle door frame has been highly decorated with nice carvings. To the left side of the Maha Devalaya is the Palle Devalaya. Devatha Bandara who is considered as the Adhikaram of Kataragama Deviyo is worshiped here.

Vee Atuwa (the rice container) and the Muruthengeya (the kitchen) can be seen at left of the entrance. The kitchen consists of a small hall and two rooms. Near to the Vee atuwa is a decorated stone door frame which is said to be placed here by Kiribath Kumbure Basnayaka Rala in 1878 (Rajapakse, 2016).

A protected site
The Embekke Dewale together with the building complex of the same era Gale Ambalama situated in the Grama Niladhari Division of Embekke in the Divisional Secretary’s Division of Udunuwara are archaeological protected monuments, declared by a government gazette notification published on 23 January 2009.
The dancing girl, Embekke, Kandy The Makara Thorana, Embekke, Kandy
1) Embekka Devalaya 25 by Cherubino is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0
2) Embekka Devalaya 24 by Cherubino is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0
3) Embekka Devalaya 17 by Cherubino is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0
4) Embekka Devalaya 19 by Cherubino is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0
5) Embekka Devalaya Pillar Tops by Dhammika98 is licensed under CC BY 3.0
6) Madol Kurupawa by Dhammika98 is licensed under CC BY 3.0

1) Godakumbura, C. E., 2011. Embekke (Chapter seven). International Scientific Committee: Wood. ICOMOS International Committee on Wood. pp. 52-53.
2) Rajapakse, R., Tokuyama, Y., Marasinghe, A., Miyata, K. and Somadeva, R., 2010. Visualization and haptic rendering of ancient wood carvings in Sri Lanka. Proceedings of the 14th International Conference on Geometry and Graphics (ICGG’10).
3) Rajapakse, S., 2016. Pauranika Sthana Ha Smaraka: Mahanuwara Distrikkaya (In Sinhala). Archaeological Department of Sri Lanka. ISBN:955-9159-34-8. pp. 55-56.
4) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. No: 1586. 23 January 2009. p. 109.

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