Nalanda Gedige

Nalanda, located just one kilometer east of the A9 route and 20 kilometers north of Aluvihare near Kandy, stands as a remarkable archaeological site in Sri Lanka. At its heart lies Nalanda Gedige, an ancient stone structure near Matale, which has sparked scholarly intrigue due to its eclectic architectural influences and historical significance.

Originally constructed as a Hindu temple in the 8th to 10th centuries, Nalanda Gedige exhibits distinct Dravidian architecture, reminiscent of the Pallava style. Over time, it transitioned into a Buddhist site, possibly associated with Mahayana and Vajrayana (Tantric) traditions, reflecting the cultural and religious amalgamation prevalent in ancient Sri Lanka.

Despite its Hindu temple-like design, Nalanda Gedige lacks overt depictions of Hindu deities, suggesting its adoption by Buddhists at some point in its history. The meticulously adorned facade, showcasing South Indian architectural elements, hints at its origin in the eighth to 11th centuries, although precise dating remains elusive.

The construction of Nalanda Gedige coincided with a period of upheaval in Sri Lanka, marked by the ascendance of South Indian rulers following the decline of the Sinhalese monarchy. This context suggests that Nalanda Gedige may have served as a symbolic fusion of Tamil and Sinhalese cultural influences.

The historical exploration of Nalanda Gedige commenced in 1893 when the site caught the attention of archaeologists, led by H. C. P. Bell. Situated amidst picturesque paddy fields, surrounded by gentle hills and wooded hamlets, Nalanda Gedige continues to captivate scholars and visitors alike with its enigmatic past and architectural splendor.