Perfect fusion of Buddhist and Hindu Architecture
Nalanda Gedige is one of the most fascinating and mysterious archeological masterpieces of ancient Sri Lanka, which is located in Nalanda, close to Matale and Dambulla. It is considered to be the centre of Sri Lanka and its structure resembles a South Indian Temple as well as Buddhist temple. This strange mix of Hindu and Buddhist architecture has always left a question in the mind of its viewers.
According to historians the Nalanda Gedige is believed to be built between the 8th and 10th century. This era is considered as a turbulent period in Sri Lankan history where the power of the Sri Lankan kings declined when the South Indian kings established themselves. This is one of the reasons behind the strange mix of two contrasting architectural styles in this small stone temple. Other historical records states that The Nalanda Gedige was a bold attempt in combining Tamil and Sinhalese cultures together. At some point in time, Nalanda Gedige and its unsolved secrets were abandoned and forgotten until it was rediscovered by H.C.P. Bell in 1893.
Nalanda Gedige has architectural characteristics of the Panawa dynasty in the ancient city of Mahabalipuram in southern India which includes a mandapa, an entrance hall, a short passage, and an ambulatory around the holy center. Few original Hindu deity statuettes exist within the temple. On the south side of the tympanum over the sanctuary is a statue of the God Kubera seated on a lotus plinth.
At present there is no sign of Hindu Gods and it is believed to have been used by Buddhists as a temple. Also some historians describe this building as a dravidian architecture dedicated to a Mahayanaa cult and there are also eroded Tantric Buddhist carvings.
During the 1980s the Nalanda Gedige was dismantled brick by brick, stone by stone, and reconstructed high above the waters of the Nalanda tank due to the hydro power project which threatened to flood the shrine. This archeological mystery is a must place to visit. Just as two architectural styles have perfectly blended together in creating this unique masterpiece, the scenic surrounding and peaceful atmosphere makes it a perfect place for relaxation.