Embekke Devalaya, which is located in Udu Nuwara, is a temple dedicated to the God of Katharagama. This shrine was built during the Gampola regime under the rule of Wicremabahu the 2nd. According to the historical documents and information, the temple was built by the Queen Hena Kanda Bisobandara with the help of a drummer named Rangama (Embekke Devalaya, 2010). The sanctuary is an out-standing work of art because of its eccentric woodcarvings without any usage of metal. UNESCO has recognized these intricate woodcarvings as the optimum products of wood to be found anywhere in the world.
These woodcarvings are unique and obscure which demonstrate the greatness and skillfulness of Sri Lankan architectural and engineering designs. This temple consists of three main sections. They are the sanctum or Garagaha, “the Dancing Hall or “Digge” and the Drummers’ Hall or “HevisiMandapaya”. The Drummers’ Hall is the mainly designed place among the sections (Embekke Devalaya, 2008). The specialty of this temple is that this is all made of wood, inclusive of the nails (Embekke Devalaya, 2010).
The Roof Design
The roof of the Drummers’ Hall was constructed using a unique structure where we would not see anywhere else in the world. The rafters, all angled from above towards the arriving guests, were stabilized together and retained in position by a “Madol Kurupawa”, a gigantic catch pin which is distinctive. This pin holds twenty six beams which makes it a marvelous creation in our history (Punchihewa, 2007). This roof is also completely made of timber. This shows the skills of carpentry of ancient Sri Lankan artists.
The carvings are done with unique designs The beams, rafters, doorways as well as doors also have been decorated with manifesting designs and patterns. The capital pillars were decorated with Sinhalese classical patterns of art such as hansaputtuwa or entwined swans and entwined rope designs. Moreover, the pillars were carved with elaborated designs such as mother breast feeding child, soldiers fighting on horse backs, female dancers, and wrestlers, women deriving from a vine, bird with a human body, amalgamation of elephant-bull designs and blend of elephant-lion design. The most outstanding feature of elephant-bull carving is that when one covers the bull side of the design with the palm, the actual shape of the elephant with drawn out trunk is visible. Likewise, when the figure of elephant covers from the palm, the bull figure emerges. Amid the carvings, there are 126 series of decorations, 256 designs of liyawelor border patterns, 64 lotus designs in pekada and 30 decorative patterns on timber and roof (Punchihewa, 2007). According to historical data, most of these carvings are most probably the work of the primeval artisan Devendra Mulachari (Embekke Devalaya, 2008).When I was schooling I have visited this temple. At the time, I enjoyed the carvings and the beauty of the sacred place, but when I was doing this project I was able to know the true significance of the temple. I was fascinated to know about the amazing, unique design and the technique that was used to architect the roof of the drummer hall. It is a marvelous and eye catching design to last for a long time period. This made me think that how talented and skilled ancient architects were to create such marvels. Moreover, there was no fact of forced labor, for these creations show how involved and dedicated were the worker. According to my point of view, the excellent engineering and architecture of ancient kings and people were talented enough to create Sri Lanka a powerful, strong nation in ancient world.