Nalanda Gedige: Sri Lanka’s best preserved ancient stone temple Text and pix by M.A.R.Manukulasooriya – Hiriyala group corr.

Nalanda Gedige: Sri Lanka’s best preserved ancient stone temple Text and pix by M.A.R.Manukulasooriya – Hiriyala group corr.

The stone door frame
Source : sundayobserver

The Nalanda Gedige is an ancient complete stone temple at Wagapanaha in the Matale district. Visitors can travel to the site along the Matale – Dambulla road and turn left at the 49th Milepost and travel about two kilometres. The distance from Matale to Nalanda is about 22 kilometres.

The site has become popular among archaeologists, historians and the public because of the strange stone building called “Gedige”.

This is one of the special archaeological monuments in Sri Lanka. The original site of the temple is considered the geographical centre (central point) of Sri Lanka. According to Prof. G.L.Premathilaka of the Peradeniya University, these structures had been constructed between the 8th and 10th century A.D. According to him, there are similarities between the Nalanda Gedige and Saptharatha Hindu Kovil in India.

Some of the design elements found here are distinctly Hindu such as the Mandapam or hall of waiting. Yet there are no signs of Hindu Gods. “Gedige” is a word derived from Pali which roughly means “a brick house” which is used to shelter images.

The architectural uniqueness of the Nalanda Gedige is intriguing. It has a charm of its own that should be witnessed by anyone who has a curiosity for mystery and history.

The Nalanda Gedige was hidden in the forest for centuries until it was uncovered by British Archaeologist H.C.P.Bell in 1893.

Due to the inundation of the Bowatenna reservoir under the accelerated Mahaweli development Scheme in the 1970s, Nalanda Gedige was removed and reconstructed with the distance of nearly 100 metres.

The task of removing and reconstructing was undertaken by Prof. G. L. Premathilleke, Dean of the Archaeological Studies of the Peradeniya University.

A Dagaba is about six metres away from the main monument. It has been built under the Kotawehera Dagaba tradition.

A Bodhiya surrounded by a brick wall is about 16 metres away from the Dagaba. There is a door-frame made of stone at the entrance to the site.

Although not included in the tourist circuits, it is worth taking a diversion on your way to Dambulla from Kandy to visit the little known shrine. The promenade that leads you to the shrine is shrouded with foliage and trees. The temple site is nestled in a secluded arboreal village surrounded by a reservoir. The stone pillars on either side of the path will lead you to the sight of a massive “Vimana” – a vault with intricate stone carvings.

A worker of the site said that only a very few local and foreign tourists visit this historical site because the publicity given to the site is not sufficient. This is a historical site in Sri Lanka where no entrance fee is charged.

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