Off the beaten track in Sri Lanka – the undiscovered temple in the rocks

The city of Kandy in Sri Lanka is synonymous with the temple that houses the Buddha’s tooth relic but one can go off the beaten track to discover another, hidden away in a cave: quieter, calmer, but rich in history and aesthetic.

Beginnings

Degaldaruwa Raja Maha Viharaya began construction in 1771 under the guidance of the king Kirti Sri Rajasinha but work was completed by his brother Rajadhi Rajasinha. The entrance and main shrine room is carved and sandwiched between two solid rocks with a rock mass of over 40 feet.  Admire the reclining Budha and walk up the small hill to see the sacred Bo Tree and the gleaming white Stupa.

Setting

There are hardly any tourists or none at all and the chief monk on most days is happy to explain the history and details of the place. You can find Buddhists in white chanting gatha, offering flowers and lighting oil lamps with incense. There is no entrance fee but most local pilgrims put a few Rupees into the donation box which goes towards to upkeep of the meticulous temple.

Paintings

The rock paintings depict four Jatak stories:  Budha’s rebirths and of customs and manners of the people of that time. All figures, humans or otherwise are of a uniform size and features the frontal or side view but never the back. Red and Green are the main colours used and were made from the bark of trees found in the surrounding village. Under the chief painter, the famous Devendra Mulachari  a group of artists  are credited for these intricate and detailed paintings which are known to be one of the best in the Kandyan era.

How to get there

Base yourself at the iconic The Kandy House – a luxurious boutique hotel over 100 years old with a royal story of its own. Take guided walk which takes through the village, paddy fields, and smiling faces to the local Degaldoruwa Temple and make a Thambili pit stop on the way. Most are awed by the temple and surroundings which personify the simplicity of rural Sri Lankan life centred on a place of worship.

Harshi Hewage is the Marketing Manager at Manor House Concepts.

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Comments (6)

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  1. Raj Rathore says:

    Hi.. thanks for sharing with us about Srilankan Temple in caves .. In india Ajanta and allora also have same caves . it is near from Mumbai

  2. Emily says:

    Hidden treasures like this really capture my interest and spirit of adventure. I’d love to grab a tour guide and go deep into the hidden areas that so few people have seen before. These are amazing pictures and this is a side of Sri Lanka I hadn’t thought to explore. Having a boutique hotel nearby is extremely handy!

  3. Toni says:

    Finding places like this that are not on the typical tourist spots are amazing. Thanks for the great photographs. I didn’t know that there was a boutique hotel in this area so that is good to know if we decide to visit that part of Sri Lanka.

  4. Sue says:

    The city of Kandy – what a cute name! I’m all for finding hidden away gems, although I am quite prone to getting lost an so I’d probably need a guide with me. I think Sri Lanka is such a wonderful and historic place, so interesting. It may seem bad to say but it’s lovely visiting a place that has more locals than tourists, it makes it so much easier to feel a connection to the area. All these photographs are really great.

  5. Gemma S says:

    Wow this place looks incredible, I love finding places which aren’t the typical tourist areas. Such a hidden treasure and the boutique hotels close by help. I’d love to stay a the Kandy House, looks very peaceful and secluded. Looks like a very interesting area to explore and the photographs look very pretty.

  6. Kelly Leanne Jones says:

    Oh wow I missed this when I was in sri lanka we went to lots of temples and beaches but this one looks so beautiful I must go next time! I love that it is such a hidden gem. Seeing your pictures makes me miss sri lanka’s greenery and hospitality

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