Dambulla Cave Temple
- Location: Jaffna Hwy, Habarana 50150, Sri Lanka
- Reason to visit: The temple is the largest and best-preserved cave temple complex in Sri Lanka and is one of the world's cultural heritage sites.
- Our ratings: ★★★★★
- Entrance fee: 1200Rs
- Opening hours: 08:00am-11:00am 14:00pm-19:00pm (Jan 01-Dec31, from Monday-Sunday)
- Recommended tour for you: 9 Days Amazing Sri Lanka Budget Tour
Dambulla Cave Temple, built in the first and second centuries, is located on a rocky mountain in the south of the city of Dambulla, also known as the Golden Temple of Dambulla. The temple is the largest and best-preserved cave temple complex in Sri Lanka and has a history of more than 2,000 years. It has attracted pilgrims for thousands of years with its exquisite murals and stone sculptures.
The rock where the cave is located is higher than the surrounding plain, reaching a height of 160 meters, of which more than 80 caves have been discovered and recorded. The main attractions are located in five caves with Buddha statues and paintings of the Buddha and his life. In 1991, UNESCO designated the Golden Temple of Dambulla as a World Cultural Heritage site.
Main Constructions of Dambulla Cave Temple
The Dambulla Cave Temple is composed of five caves. It is the most magnificent and solemn among the many cave temples in Sri Lanka. Its history is recorded in the entrance of the first cave in the Baltic language.
Cave of the Divine King
There is a 14-meter reclining Buddha in the first cave. Buddha's disciple, Ananda, stands at the foot of the Buddha. The Buddha has a Vishnu statue on his head. According to legend, these caves were formed by this important god in Hinduism with its mana.
Cave of the Great Kings
The second cave is the largest of the five grottoes. In addition to the sixteen standing Buddha statues and forty sitting Buddha statues, there are two Indian gods (Vishnu and Saman) and two king statues. The Hindu god appeared because Hinduism began to spread to Sri Lanka in the 12th century. The two kings are King Vattagamani who came to the pilgrimage in the first century and King Nissanka Malla who decorated the fifty statues in the cave temple with gold in the twelfth century. Therefore, the second cave is also called the "Great King Cave." There is also a stupa in the cave. What surprised the visitors was that there was a water source in the cave that flowed upwards along the top of the gap in the cave (yes, upwards), dripping water day and night. The magic is that people can't explain where the water comes from, so believers think it is magic water.
Great New Monastery
The third cave is Daxin Temple. The murals and paintings on the top of the cave are typical painting styles of Sri Lanka in the 17th century. In addition to the 50 stone statues of the Buddha, there are also statues of Kirti Sri Rajainha (1747-1782), a king of revitalizing Buddhism in the 17th century.
Fourth and Fifth Caves
The fourth cave is small in area, and there is only one sitting Buddha in the cave. The stupa in the cave was ransacked by thieves. The fifth cave used to be a storage room, and the Lord was a giant reclining Buddha surrounded by many Indian deities. The fourth and fifth caves are not as large and historic as the first three.
The murals at Dambulla Cave Temple are amazing, from the stone wall to the top of the cave are painted with lacquer, especially the geometric painting on the top of the cave, with smooth lines. The temple of Dambulla, a place of pilgrimage in Sri Lanka, has a history of 2,000 years. The grottoes contain five shrines and are the largest and best-preserved cave temple in Sri Lanka. Covering an area of 2,100 square meters, the murals and 157 statues are of great religious artistic value, and it demonstrates the charm of Buddhist art.
How to get to the Dambulla Cave Temple
♦ The Dambulla Cave Temple is on the way from Kandy to Sigiriya, and you can get there by bus at the coach station. It takes about 2 hours.
♦ From Polonnaruwa to the Dambulla Cave Temple, you could also take a bus with 2 hours driving, and then you could reach the Dambulla Cave.
♦ Dress Code: Prohibited items of clothing include shorts, mini-skirts, tight-fitting trousers, any see-through items of clothing, sleeveless tops, sandals (excluding those with heel straps), sweatshirts, sweatpants, and pajamas.
♦ Dress conservatively is all you need.
♦ Although there is no photo prohibition in the temple, it is recommended not to take pictures due to the respect for the Buddha statue.
♦ Take off shoes when entering the temple.
♦ No intimate behaviors allowed in the temple.