Kandy boasts of many religious places of which the most prominent is the Dalada Maligawa [Temple of the tooth] followed by Ambekke, Lankathilaka, Gannoruwa and Gadaladeniya. Gadaladeniya Temple is one of the well-known destinations in Kandy which was established on the rock at Diggala, 15km from Kandy town. The beautiful Temple has an old monastery, which you can visit during a tour to Kandy.
The Temple at Gadaladeniya was built in 1344 by King Buwanekabahu IV, according to an inscription written inside the temple. It was designed by many architects, but one of the main architects was Ganesvarachari, who was a South Indian. As a result, the Gadaladeniya Temple has a distinct South Indian flavour to the architecture.
The chief shrine room at the Temple has a statue of the Buddha in Vajrasana [Kneeling posture] under a Makara Thorana [Dragon adornment] and four Buddha images in a standing position. On both of its faces, the Makara Thorana is adorned with images of gods like Brahma, Santhusuta, Suyama, Natha and Maithree and two followers.
The chamber which is located inside the”Sikhara” [dome] consists of a Buddha figure. But the image has been ruined by the Portuguese. Just beside the shrine room is a Devale [Hindu shrine] which is devoted to Lord Vishnu. The Mahavansa believed that the grand history of Sri Lanka includes “Upulvan Deiyo”. Therefore it is said Lord Vishnu was appointed to save Sri Lanka and Buddhism within it because the Buddha passed away at that time. As a result Sri Lankans give a special veneration to Lord Vishnu.
There is a Stupa which is constructed on a rock beside the Vishnu Devale. Sri Lankans believe that the Stupa has been built by King Parakramabahu. It has a roof which is constructed above it standing on four pillars.
On the little shrine rooms surrounding the central stupa, there are four smaller stupas. This particular formation is known as the “Vijayothpaya or Vijayantha Prasada”. It has got its name after the mythical palace of Lord Indra. Presently Gadaladeniya Temple is identified as “Gadaladeniya”. But according to an inscription this temple is known as “Dharma Kirthi Viharaya”. It is the name of the monk who founded this temple.