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This exceptionally designed Buddhist shrine is believed to be built more than 1000 years ago during the 8th and the 10th centuries. The style of the building is influenced by South Indian Dravidian architecture, which makes one think that it could be an attempt by the South Indian Invader kings to build fusion with native Sinhalese. It's also one of the oldest stone structures in Sri Lanka.
Nalanda Gedige demonstrates a mix of Buddhist and Hindu architecture. The main hall, and the God Kuvera (God of wealth) statue on the south side of the tympanum are examples of Hindu influence. However the history of the shrine is not known for certain for today.
The archeological explorations on the site commenced in 1893 under the then archaeological commissioner H.C.P Bell. He had plans to dismantle the shrine and restore elsewhere. However it didn't happen until 1980. When the shrine was threatened with inundation by the waters of Bowatenna Tank, it was decided to dismantle the ruins and rebuild the shrine on the retaining wall (bund) of the tank, above the waters.
The shrine is open for visitors from 7:00 AM to 5:00 PM, and you might be requested to wear the Vatican dress code to enter.