For holiday-makers in Kandy we recommend a classical day trip to three late medieval temples in 12 to 15 km distance from Kandy. Because of their location to the south-west of Kandy they are called “Western Temples”.
The three Western Temples are within walking-distance from one another, seven kilometres from the northernmost temple, Gadaladeniya, to the southern temple, Embekke. Lakatilaka can be seen halfway in between them. This tour is quite popular among backpackers, since villages close to Gadaladeniya and Embekke can be reached by public busses from Kandy. However, the temples are not too crowded and most visitors are Sinhalese pilgrims. A half-day trip from Kandy is good enough, if you drive all distances by car instead using public transport and hiking. The morning is slightly more recommendable for visits than the afternoon.
The three Western Temples are first temples built by kings residing in the highlands. Like Natha Devale in Kandy city they are already from the late Middle Ages, before Kandy became the capital. The three temples are from the Gampola period in the 14th century. Mahayana Buddhism and Hinduism heavily influenced the Sri Lankan Theravda tradition during this period. Each of the three Western Temples combines Buddhist and Hindu shrines within the main building, But whereas Gadaladeniya and Lankatilaka are mainly Buddhist temples with adjacent Hindu chapels, Embekke is dedicated to the Hindu deity Kataragama in the first place and has only a smaller Buddhist shrine. However, Kataragama is venerated by Sinhalese Buddhists, too.
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