As it is the best preserved cave temple complex in Sri Lanka, it is referred to as the Dambulla Cave Temple. Apart from the glistening interiors, it is one of the most clean places you will ever visit as a tourist. In 1991, it was declared as a World Heritage site. The complex is made of 80 known caves out of which 5 caves are the major attractions. The caves are decorated with statues and paintings of Buddha and his life.
There are 157 statues of Buddha and 2100 sqm area is covered with murals. The cave of the Divine King called the Devaraja Lena, has an impressive 14 meter high statue of Buddha. It is said to be a monastery in the 1st century BC. The cave of the Great Kings or Maharaja Lena has 2 statues of Kings, 2 of the Hindu Deities along with 40 seating and 16 standing Buddha statues. This cave was said to be the largest of all the five. It also houses a Dagoba and spring which has healing powers. Maha Alut Vihara, the Great New Monastery has a statue of a King along with 50 Buddha statues.
The walls and ceilings are decorated with Kandy style paintings. The last two caves are simpler with not much high quality work and they belong to later periods.
1) The site where this temple is situated has shown the signs of megalithic cemetery around 3 century BC.
2) Water drips during rains from a point of ceiling. A rock cistern is hanged there so that the water does not drip on the floor. People there claim that the cistern never overflows and is never emptied of the water collected.
When to go
The weather remains almost same throughout the year. But if you do not want to be the part of rains, avoid the months of October-January. April, being the hottest month might be little uncomfortable too.
Best period is from February-March and September.
How to reach
The temple is around 147 kms East of colombo and Around 75 kms North to Kandy. It lies across the A9 Kandy-Jaffna Highway. Coming from Kandy, turn left before the Dambulla bus stand. Immediately after the turn, you will find a white temple on your on your left hand side. Around 100 meters away, you will come across the statue of lord Buddha on your right hand. Further 150 meters down the road, take right. A couple of hundred meters more and there you see the Royal Rock Temple. The Golden temple Of Dambulla is located East to the Royal Rock Temple.