Kandy Temple Trail
Hill Country, Sri Lanka
Head a little more off the beaten track to explore some of Sri Lanka's more historically and architecturally interesting temples. Gadaladeniya, Embekke and Lankathilaka are set away from the main tourist trail but are still easily accessible from Kandy.
Embekke Devale dates back to the 14th Century and is dedicated to Kataragama Deviyo, the guardian deity of Sri Lanka and Buddhism, but also the Hindu god of War. The temple is most well known for its intricately carved pillars, with each featuring a different design including swans, dragons, soldiers, and even an elephant fighting a lion.
Built on a rock outcrop, Lankathilaka rises dramatically out of the jungle. The temple is reached by a flight of stairs cut into the side of a hill. In another demonstration of the fusion between Hinduism and Buddhism, a huge Buddha is seated before Hindu-influenced deities, and the exterior wall has small shrines dedicated to Kataragama, Vishnu, Vibhishana and Saman.
Gadaladeniya was built in the same year as Lankathilaka - 1344. Like Lankathilaka, Gadaladeniya has a combination of shrines devoted to both Buddhism and Hinduism.