Nalanda Gedige

Nalanda Gedige

Nalanda Gedige (Tamil: நாலந்த கெடிகே Nālanda Gedige) is an ancient complete stone building near Matale, Sri Lanka. This building was an ancient Hindu Temple constructed in between 8th to 10th century with dravidian architecture ( Pallava style ) and then believe to have been used by Buddhists. Also some scholars describe this building is a dravidian architecture dedicated to a Mahayanaa cult with pronounced Trantric learning and known for an ancient monument of possible Vajrayana (Tantric) Buddhist affinities.

Nalanda Gedige is designed like a Hindu temple with a mandapa, an entrance hall (originally roofed), a short passage to a bare cello, and an ambulatory round the holy center. There is no sign of Hindu gods today, however, and the temple is said to have been used by Buddhists.
The richly decorated facade sections, laboriously reassembled in 1975, are predominantly in the South Indian style, and may have originated in the eighth to 11th centuries, but cannot be precisely dated. However, the god Kubera appears on the south side of the tympanum over the sanctuary, and this is a feature only to be found in Sri Lanka. Contents
Estimates of its date of construction vary from the 8th to 10th centuries AD. This was a period of great turmoil on the island, with South Indian kings establishing themselves in the wake of the decline of the Sinhalese monarchy. It is possible that Nalanda Gedige was a bold attempt at a fusion of Tamil and Sinhalese cultures.
History of Nalanda Gedige as an archaeological site began in 1893, when, according to then Archaeological Commissioner, H. C. P. Bell, “land was acquired round this little-known and solitary shrine of granite construction, popularly styled gedige. It is situated on raised ground in paddy fields, picturesquely surrounded by low hills and wooded hamlets. In 1911 a small gang was detached from the labor force at Sigiriya to thoroughly root out all the jungle growth upon and around the ruin besides cutting still further back the earth silt hiding the bold stylites upon which the fane stands. Very special importance attaches to this unique temple, as it is the sole example yet discovered in Ceylon of composite styles of architecture judiciously blended to form a delightfully homogeneous edifice.”
Bell had significant plans for the restoration of the Nalanda Gedige - involving its dismantlement and relocation - as is apparent from his report of 1912: “It will be necessary to gradually extend the open space to the north and east of the gedige ruin, so far as practicable, in reasonable expectation of discovering other buried members of the structure, before it is partially dismantled with a view to correct reconstruction. For this fine edifice cannot be allowed to remain in its present semi-deceptive elevation, when all stones on the ground have been recovered from the earth.”
However, nothing transpired until much later, in the 1980s, when the shrine was threatened with inundation by the waters of the newly created Bowatenne Tank. The opportunity was taken to dismantle the ruin and rebuild it on the bund(retaining wall) of the tank, high above the waters. It stands now reconstructed beside the tank, and is approached by a flower-edged causeway with a magnificent backdrop of tree-clad hills.
Nalanda Gedige is a curious hybrid of Buddhist and Hindu architecture. Some of the design elements are distinctly Hindu, such as the mandapam or hall of waiting. Yet there is no sign of Hindu gods. There are erotic but eroded Tantric Buddhist carvings, much like the famous ones at Khajuraho in India. The richly decorated façade sections are in the 7th century style which flourished at Madras, South India. However, the southern section has a semi-circular niche containing in high relief a squat figure of Kuvera, the god of wealth, seated on a lotus plinth - an image that is only found in Sri Lanka.
Roland Raven-Hart, writing in Ceylon: History in Stone (1964) describes this hybridisation: “Elsewhere there are plenty of Hindu buildings, and plenty of Buddhist ones, and some muddled mongrels; but here the styles are interwoven. The ground-plan is Buddhist, the vestibule pure Hindu and so is the little windowless shrine: the plain moonstone and crocodile balustrade and rivers of dwarfs and architrave of the doorway are Sinhalese, and jambs Tamilian; even the sculptures are fairly shared. The whole effect is charming and for me unexpectedly classical, nor did I find the exterior “over-richly decorated” as did Bell, though it is crowded with pilasters and horseshoe false windows and more jolly dwarfs. And the dome must have been a worthy climax when all its four faces were present, each with horseshoe niche and statue, instead of the one only which was found.”

Tourists attraction
Nalanda is situated one km to the east of the A9 route 20km north of Aluvihare near Kandy. It is one of the remarkable archaeological sites in Sri Lanka. It has to do with geography and ease of access, although this is not the case with Nalanda. Often, however, it is a case of the beaten tourist track prevailing over good sense.

Recommended review time for sightseeing: 1 h

Tourist reviews about Nalanda Gedige

The Middle of Sri lanka.
Pramudith... [TA], , Moratuwa, Sri Lanka

The First time I went there the place was so Beautiful and had a Peace full Environment.It was a Stone Building. The Building was an ancient Hindu Temple. Any Religious person can Visit there. You can learn about the History too. And I think you haven't seen the right Middle of Sri Lanka.

Interesting Religious Monument
peterh125 [TA], , Rugeley, United Kingdom

Located just off the main A9 Matale to Dambulla Road this is a location to spend a few quiet moments. The site is leafy and shady next to a lake

The monuments themselves have great historical significance and contain interesting stone carvings - some I was told referring to the kama sutra

worth visiting
2swisstra... [TA], , Lausanne, Switzerland

This is a beautiful ancient stone temple. This building was an ancient Hindu Temple constructed between 8th to 10th century with dravidian architecture (Pallava style). Very quiet location

Beautiful, ancient, but maybe not good for single women
Jes W [TA], ,

Very cool temple, with an unusual mix of Hindu and Buddhist iconography, but the grounds keeper thinks it's pretty funny to show off the carvings of tantric sex. I think these are unusual artifact in Sri Lanka, so I see why it's important to point out, but as two women, it made us a bit uncomfortable the way he was talking about it. He also kept invading my personal space, which may be the American in me talking, but I hadn't experienced that from anyone else in this country. It's a kilometer off the main road, very remote (and beautiful!) but I encourage women to be extra aware while visiting!

Exact center of Sri Lanka!
Lisa H [TA], , Bellevue, Washington

Though it wasn't on our itinerary, our tour guide suggested we stop at this hidden gem and we're so glad he did! He said it was the exact center of the country, and his GPS app on his iPhone proved him right. It's a stone temple built at least 1200 years ago, and was used by both Hindus and Buddhists in the past. Though it's an archaeological wonder, it seems to be off the beaten path - or it was when we visited. It was a nice change from the other, heavily-trafficked tourist destinations.

Many miss this place
Gerard A [TA], , KAndy

Nalanda Gedige is an image house done during the 7th century. Most of tourist miss this site not because they don't want to see it as many drivers skip this monument to save time to reach Kandy after a hard day from Sigiriya / Dambulla or Polonnaruwa.
One of the great places which not charge entrance fees from tourist. Also considered to be the centre of Sri Lanka.

center point of srilanka.
giusto u [TA], , Province of Florence, Italy

this is called as the 'center point ' of ancient Srilanka..nice ancient building with amazing carvings on the stone walls of the temple.sorounded by the beautiful lake.

It is a must visit when you travel around Matale
nir0sh [TA], , Colombo, Sri Lanka

Nalanda gedige is a buddhist shrine house made in Hindu architecture between 8th-10th centuries. It's initial place was at Bowathanna reservoir and it was considered as the center of Sri Lanka. Nalanda gedige is situated about 1Km from Naula town. ( Naula is in between Matale and Dambulla).
I have visited there on an evening and it was a nice place. Though it is mentioned not to take pictures there, don't worry you can get. Don't miss the the carving of man,woman and lion in sex.

Center of Srilanka - By Serndip Traveller
Serendib... [TA], , Colombo, Sri Lanka

Nalanda Gedige is one of a number of remarkable archaeological sites in Sri Lanka that receive few tourists through no limitations of their own. The reasons for this anomaly are various. Sometimes it has to do with geography and ease of access, although this is not the case with Nalanda. Often, however, it is a case of the beaten tourist track prevailing over good sense. Gedige is an image house - is strongly recommended, because it exhibits a composite style of architecture unique in Sri Lanka, and an extraordinary fusion of Hinduism and Buddhism. To cap it all, this remarkable shrine occupies an extremely picturesque - if not original - location.
Nalanda Gedige is “one of those fortunate places that have no history.” The surprising lack of knowledge regarding this shrine, and why it was located at Nalanda thwarts those who wish to delve into its past. Even estimates of its date of construction vary from the 7th to 11th centuries AD. It still retains its unique appearance of mixing features of Hindu architecture with that of Buddhist designs.

On the other hand, Nalanda Gedige features several Tantric Buddhist carvings which were damaged through time. Roland Raven-Hart wrote that the structure makes use of Buddhist ground plan with Hindu vestibules.

unique image of Two men in a sexual position with a lion.
ruwantrip [TA], , Colombo, Sri Lanka

Nalanda gedige is located 24km away from Dambulla towards to matale.It was constructed using stones in between 8th -10th Century AD as a Hindu temple.
But later period artists made more stone carved Buddha images, these days we consider this as a Buddhist image house and Hindu architecture still can be seen.
Curious stone carved image is located just outside the stone image house.
You can see two men in a sexual position with a lion.this image is unique and can't anywhere in Sri Lanka .

nihal w [TA], ,

it was really awesome great and fantastic. spent about 2 hours without being any tired. greenish atmosphere.

Visiting Nalanda Gedige
EmkaySriL... [TA], , Sri Lanka

It is well maintained and there is no littering . Obvious the Dept of archaeology has done a good job on planning conservation in this site this site. Signage could however improve for foreign tourists especially.

A hidden gem, a highlight of our trip!
Spyros P [TA], , Athens, Greece

One of the genuine "Indiana Jones" momments of our trip.
A small sign on the main Kandy-Dambulla street shows you the way to the Nalanda Gedige.
A strange, ancient temple but conserved in great shape. Inside the temple Vishnu and Ganesh statues coexist with Budha's. There's a bodhi tree and if you search the reliefs you can find some very interesting scenes, although quite worn with time...
The place is quiet, we were alone for most of the time, and quite unusual for Sri Lanka, there's no ticket to be payed!
The lake views around the temple are beautiful, and you might as well walk to the lakeshore to get some photos but beware of the serpents!

fabmunich [TA], , munich

There is something very fine and calming about this simple temple, and although you're unlikely to spend more than 20 minutes there, it may well remain in your memory as one of the better sites in Sri Lanka. The tranquil setting and the building's humble dimensions - not to mention the good state of preservation and the mind boggling lack of any entry fee (long may this last!) - combine to make this a very worthwhile stop indeed.

Little gem
stephan j [TA], , London, United Kingdom

Wonderful lonely little temple on the A9 between Dambulla and Kandy.
No entry fee - you would be mad not to stop if close by

Beautiful place
aurelie19... [TA], , Paris, France

Worth the visit. Beautiful and romantic place.
On the road to Dambulla, you can stopp here for a breath and relaxing moment.

An archaeological site on your way to Dambulla well worth a visit
Tilakfer [TA], , Colombo, Sri Lanka

The Nalanda Gedige which is only a few hundred keters from the Dambulla- kandy A( Highway is well worth a visit.
It is a site that has been re sited about 35 years ago from the original site which was a few kilometers away which area went under water with the construction of a Reservoir nearby.
There is also no entrance fee for this site,

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