The capital of the Hela Kingdom migrated from Anuradhapura to Polonnaruwa, Dambadeniya, Kurunegala, and Gampola for various reasons. With this migration, the Buddhism that spread during the Anuradhapura period also became a religion and it can be seen that it mixed with other religions, beliefs and beliefs. A living testimony to the extent that Buddhism and other religions mixed with Buddhism during the Gampola period is found in the town of Embekke Devalaya in the central Udunuwara province, Kandy. That is the Ambakka Sri Kataragama Maha Devalaya. This Devalaya was built by King Wickramabahu III during the Gampola Kingdom. Built around 1370. In the early days this was known as Mahasen Devalaya.
An interesting legend about the beginning of Ambakke Sri Kataragama Maha Devalaya is mentioned in the poem book ‘Ambakke Varnanawa’ written by Delgoda Mudiyanse. According to the report, a local drummer in the area was cured of leprosy after surrendering to Ruhunu Kataragama Maha Devalaya. He used to go to Kataragama annually to pay tribute to the drummer to prove his vote. Once, when he was old and weak, he came to Kataragama and slept on the temple grounds, regretting not being able to worship the drum god. That day, the God of Kataragama appeared before him and told him not to be sad and to show his inspiration for a tree after going to the village and paying tribute to the drum there.
The goddess Henakanda Biso Bandara was the queen of King Wickramabahu III of Gampola. She had a garden in Ambakke. One day while cleaning the garden, a seven-foot-high stream of blood was said to have come from a cut made by Kathy that had hit a mountain tree. Hearing this, the previous drummer had informed the gardener that “this was to show him his inspiration that God had informed him in Kataragama” and they had worshiped the drummer in front of the mountain tree.
King Vikramabahu III (1356-1373 AD) heard this news and built a three-story temple in the Ambakka flower garden and placed an image of the god Kataragama there. When the king returned, the dola in which he was traveling could not be carried aside, so he also offered it to the devalaya. King Wickramabahu has made 67 offerings to this Devalaya by making various offerings as elephants in paddy fields and farms. The descendants of Uyan Palla at the time were said to be called Kankani Gedara and the drummer’s descendants were called Arattana Panikki Muraya.
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There is also an interesting legend about the Goddess Henakanda Biso Bandara, who was the queen. Consequently, she was born spontaneously from a berry in a tree in a town called Mathgamuwa in Udunuwara. She died in the Pushulpitiya area in Kotmale. Her body was thrown into the Mahaweli River in a coffin and landed at Kahatapitiya, Gampola. This was reported to the King by the Unambuwa Maha Nilame from that area and the King held a procession for five days and cremated the body of the Goddess. The guardians of all the temples in the area stepped forward to get their jewelry, but due to a sudden power outage, no one was able to get it. They were then made available to the custodians of the Ambakka Devalaya. These decorations are still preserved in this temple. After the death of the Goddess Henakanda Biso Bandara, it is said that she became the Mahesi of the Goddess Kataragama and was the presiding deity of Ambakka Devalaya.
There is said to be a wooden statue of the Goddess Henakanda Biso Bandara, a peacock statue made from the mountain tree said to have spilled the bloodstream, and a statue of the Goddess Bandara who was in charge of the Devalaya.
The Esala Perahera is celebrated annually in this Devalaya. It includes five Ethul Perahera, five Kumbala Perahera, and five Randoli Perahera. These processions are different from the processions held in other local temples. Among the differences are the use of a black robe by Mr. Kapu, the jewel box, the dance and the game of the Ambakka Devalaya, and the fact that at one point during the procession, Mr. Kapu was seen running with the hands on the chest.
The final procession of water cut is a special procession for this Devalaya. The procession from the Devalaya to Botalapitiya in Gampola to cut the water commemorates the death of the Goddess Henakanda Biso Bandara. Upon returning to the Devalaya after the water cut, there are no dance groups in the procession and the scarves are covered in black cloth and the funeral procession is carried out in a processional way. The only devalaya to celebrate such a procession is the Ambakka Devalaya. From these rituals and the legends associated with them, it is clear to us that the beliefs prevailing in society at the time and in the state had attributed divine power to the state. Pattini’s faith is said to have spread in this area as well. This area is said to have been known as An Bakka as it was dedicated to the Goddess Pattini. Later the horn became relief.
More than these rituals and legends, the Ambakka Temple is famous for its valuable wood carvings. It seems that the stone architecture of Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa and other eras was given priority. But it seems that most of the important creations of Gampola and Kandy were made of wood. Among these, the most important and most important ancient wood carvings can be seen in the Ambakka Devalaya. UNESCO has declared that these carvings are the best in the world, not only in Sri Lanka but also in the world. The Ambakka temple complex consists of eight main buildings. Although Ambakka is a Buddhist shrine, unlike other Buddhist shrines, the Devalaya is not the first place of worship.