The Degaldoruwa Temple, rebuilt and embellished in the late 18th century by Kandy’s most famous king, Kirti Sri Rajasinha, and his brother and successor, Rajadi Rajasinha, is considered to be one of the best examples of a cave temple with so-called Kandy-Paintings. Dambulla is much more famous and has more and larger caves and many more statues. But the Jataka paintings, narratives of previous lives of the being that became Buddha Shakyamuni in his last life, are even larger and more sophisticated than those of Dambulla. The Kandyan style paintings of Degaldoruwa are the work of four different painters. Four Jataaka Stories are drawn at this cave temple, the famous Vessantara Jathaka story being the most important one. It is a story exemplifying utmost self-sacrifice. The others are Sattubhatta Jataka, Mahasilava Jataka and Sutasoma Jataka, the latter is about a king who became a forest reclusive but followed by all his subjects, the paintings illustrate some cruel episodes from this Jataka, too. On the rock surface of the main shrine’s ceiling is also the well-known and often depicted scene of the Lord Buddha tested by Mara and his evil forces just before the moment enlightment. Another ceiling painting shows the Earth Goddess called Mahi Kantawa. A Bo-tree and a dagoba can be found on the a terrace on the summit of the Degaldoruwa rock temple.
The Degaldoruwa cave temple is located at the village of Amunugama, only 4 km east of Kandy’s Tooth Relic Temple. The painted caves of Degaldoruwa can easily be reached from Kandy via the Lewella Bridge or by proceeding along Kundasale road and then turning left at Nattarampota.
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