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Private Day Trip: Matale from Dambulla

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    Stop At: Nalanda Gedige, Matale 21152 Sri Lanka

    According to what historians and archaeologists have discovered about Nalanda Gedige; the structure was created between the 8th and 10th century AD. This was a turbulent period for olden day Ceylon, with South Indian kings establishing themselves in the wake of the declining Sinhalese monarchy. Some historians conjecture that Nalanda Gedige was a bold attempt at a fusion of Tamil and Sinhalese cultures; while others say the structure started out as a Hindu Temple constructed in the Pallava style, which was later used by Buddhists. Either way, at an unknown point in time, Nalanda Gedige was abandoned and forgotten; its mystery unsolved. The forest took over the region, swallowing the sanctum into its deep, dark embrace.

    Many centuries later in 1893, while the British were trying to discover the mysteries of tropical Ceylon; H. C. P. Bell, who was the Archaeological Commissioner at the time, found the edifice in a patch of deep jungle close to a village. Realising its historical importance; he then made a concentrated effort to research it, and acquired the surrounding land for that sole purpose. One of his journals stated the following:

    "land was acquired round this little-known and solitary shrine of granite construction, popularly styled gedige. It is situated on raised ground in paddy fields, picturesquely surrounded by low hills and wooded hamlets. In 1911 a small gang was detached from the labor force at Sigiriya to thoroughly root out all the jungle growth upon and around the ruin besides cutting still further back the earth silt hiding the bold stylites upon which the fane stands. Very special importance attaches to this unique temple, as it is the sole example yet discovered in Ceylon of composite styles of architecture judiciously blended to form a delightfully homogeneous edifice."

    Bell also had plans to dismantle and relocate the entire structure to a more viable location. He felt that the temple was in a precarious location; an elevated area that might become unstable at any moment, causing Nalanda Gedige irretrievable damage. However his plans did not achieve fruition until many years later, when he had long since moved on from the position of Archaeological Commissioner.

    In the 1980s, the waters of the newly created Bowatenne Tank threatened to flood the shrine. Therefore, researchers took the opportunity to dismantle the ruin and rebuild it on the retaining wall of the tank, high above the waters. It was reconstructed beside the tank, and can now be approached by a flower-edged causeway with a magnificent backdrop of tree-clad hills.

    Duration: 30 minutes

    Stop At: Aluvihara Rock Cave Temple, Matale, Aluvihara Aluvihara Junction, Matale Rd, Matale 21000 Sri Lanka

    At the entrance of the Aluviharaya cave temple in Sri Lanka is a solid Pandal with an arch constructed out of concrete it leads to a steep climb of stone steps leading to the Meda-midula — the frontage terrace. Then from there, rise stone steps making way to the drip ledge rock caves.

    The Aluviharaya cave temple in Sri Lanka has a library containing a gallery of antiques ranging from Buddhist statues made out of clay, brass, marble, while some of them have been gold plated. There are also very valuable Buddha statues gifted by Siam, Cambodia, China, Japan, and Myanmar, together with other archaeological artifacts. The first cave is about 25 feet long and 10 feet high and it was one of the venues where some of these old Thripitaka were written on Ola leaves in Pali by Buddhist monks. On its apex is written in bold Sinhala letters that the Thripitaka were written during the rule of king Walagamba.

    It’s a rock cave shelter that harbours an Image House decorated with the typical Makara Thorana. There are also seated, standing and recumbent Buddha statues of terra-cotta, while the murals are adorned with paintings of Jathaka stories. Kandyan period paintings are covering the cave ceilings. A spiral stone staircase ends on its summit where the Sacred Bo Tree stands serenely cloistering an image house in this rock cave. The third cave is met amidst a conclave of rock boulders where is sheltered another rock cave where the Thripitaka were written on Ola leaves by the ancient Buddhist monks and a commodious residence for the present day Bhikkhus arriving from all four quarters.

    Duration: 1 hour

    Stop At: Sembuwaththa Lake, Elkaduwa, Matale 21000 Sri Lanka

    You can return to Kandy at this time, or opt for a sunset visit to Sembuwatta Lake located in the Elkaduwa area. You will get there by 4:30 pm. Sembuwatta is an artificial lake made from a natural spring in the area. It’s famed for its amazing views and natural swimming pool. You will be spending a relaxing hour here, allowing you to take some spectacular photos with the setting sun.

    Duration: 1 hour

    Stop At: Regent Spice and Herbal Garden - Matale, No:06, Kirigalpoththa, Palapathwela, Matale Sri Lanka

    Europia Spice Garden
    Start your visit with a 1 to 1.5-hour tour of the spice and herbal gardens. During the tour, you will learn more about the gardens’ different spices and herbs, as well as how they are grown and harvested and watch a traditional cooking demo that puts them to good use.

    Duration: 1 hour 30 minutes
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