Nalanda Gedige between Matale and Dambulla is Sri Lanka‘s only complete stone temple from the Anuradhapura period. The temple built in the 8th or 9th century is situated in the geographical center of the island, presumably on a much earlier place of worship. The temple that can be seen today is not at the original site any more, since it has been shifted to a new location due to the consruction of a reservoir in the 1980s. That’s why Nalanda Gedige is called „Sri Lanka’s small Abu Simbel“. The building is influenced by the classical Southindian style of temple architecture which had been developed in the 7th century by the Pallavas near Chennai. The temple consists of a temple tower called Sikhara sheltering the sanctum and a ceremonial hall in front of it called Mandapa on a shared platform, which is the typical arrangement of all Indian temples. Nalanda Gedige seem s to have been dedicated to a Tantric version of Buddhism. Nalanda Gedige is the only temple in Sri Lanka decorated with erotic depiction. Though this kind of sexually explicit carvings is typical of North Indian temples, it’s quite rare in Southern India and Sri Lanka and seems to indicate foreign influence.
Nuwan Chinthaka Gajanayaka