Nalanda Gedige is a unique ancient structure located in Sri Lanka, combining both Hindu and Buddhist architectural elements. Believed to have been built between the 8th and 10th centuries, this mysterious edifice stands as a testament to the cultural diversity of the region. Its remote location in Matale, surrounded by lush greenery, adds to the mystique of Nalanda Gedige, making it a fascinating archaeological site for those interested in exploring the historical tapestry of Sri Lanka.

Hindu and Buddhist influences in Nalanda Gedige

The fusion of Hindu and Buddhist influences in Nalanda Gedige is evident in its design, featuring a mandapa, or pillared hall, typically associated with Hindu temples, alongside a stupa, a key element in Buddhist architecture. The central shrine, dedicated to a deity thought to be Lord Vishnu, highlights the syncretism of religious beliefs during the period when Nalanda Gedige was constructed. The temple’s intricate carvings and ornate details showcase the skilled craftsmanship of the ancient builders.

One of the most intriguing aspects of Nalanda Gedige is its location, situated on an artificial platform in the center of a water tank. The purpose of this unique placement remains a subject of debate among historians and archaeologists. Some suggest that the site may have served as a place of worship, while others propose that it played a role in ancient irrigation systems. The enigmatic nature of Nalanda Gedige adds an air of mystery, inviting visitors to ponder its original function and significance.

Conservation of Nalanda Gedige

Despite its historical importance, Nalanda Gedige has faced challenges such as natural decay and vandalism over the centuries. Conservation efforts have been initiated to preserve this cultural gem, allowing present and future generations to appreciate the rich heritage it represents. As visitors explore the site, they are transported back in time, unraveling the layers of history embedded in the stones of Nalanda Gedige.

Reaching Nalanda Gedige and Nearby Accormadations

  • Private Vehicle: The most convenient way is to hire a private vehicle or use a taxi service. The journey takes approximately 3 to 4 hours, depending on traffic conditions and the route taken.
  • Self-Drive: If you prefer driving, you can rent a car. Make sure to have a valid local international driving license (if you are a foreign traveler) and be aware of the local traffic rules.

By your own vehicle or renting a car

There are two main routes to reach Nalanda Gedige.

1. Best Route: Via Kandy

Colombo > Ambepussa > Kegalle > Kandy > Matale > Nalanda Gedige

The most common route is to head Kandy from Colombo on the A1 highway, passing through Ambepussa, Kegalle, Kadugannawa and Peradeniya. This route has more attractive locations to visit during your travel time. From Kandy, proceed north towards Dambulla, where Nalanda Gedige is located.

2. Alternative Routes: Via Kurunegala

Colombo > Ambepussa > Kurunegala > Ibbagamuwa > Madawala Ulpotha > Nalanda Gedige

Public Transportation

There are several ways to reach Nalanda Gedige using public transport options.

From Colombo

First, you need to go to Matale or Kandy.

  • Train: Although there isn’t a direct train to Matale from Colombo, you can take a train from Colombo to Kandy and then proceed to Matale by bus or taxi or train.
  • Bus: Public buses operate between Colombo and Matale. Once in Matale, you may need to take a local bus or taxi to reach Nalanda Gedige

From Kandy

You can pick one of the following bus to reach Nalanda gedige. It will take around 2 hours to get off the bus at Nalanda Junction. Once you get off at Nalanda Junction, you can walk or pick a tuk-tuk to reach the destination which is just 1.4 km away.

  • Kandy – Anuradhapura
  • Kandy – Jaffna
  • Kandy – Vavuniya
  • Kandy – Trincomalee
  • Kandy – Kaduruwela
  • Kandy – Dambulla

Tour Packages

Consider joining a guided tour package that includes transportation to Nalanda Gedige. This can simplify the logistics and provide you with additional insights during your visit.


If you plan an extended visit, you can find accommodation options in Matale or nearby areas. This allows you to explore the region at a more leisurely pace.

Before embarking on your journey, it’s advisable to check for any travel advisories, road conditions, and confirm the opening hours of Nalanda Gedige. Additionally, consider the weather and plan accordingly for a comfortable and enjoyable visit.

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