Any traveler who is planning a trip to Dambulla is doing so for one reason: the sumptuous array of cave temples that pepper an otherwise unglamorous town. Cave temples are famous as the most atmospheric Buddhist sanctuaries all across Sri Lanka. And, the ones in Dambulla are particularly attractive with their perfectly preserved interior. More than 80 caves are in the region, with over 150 Buddha images in the 5 densest caves best known to the world. Dating back to the 1st century BC, they represent the time-capsuled values of the country—and it is only the beginning. Near Dambulla, a prehistoric burial site testifies to a human presence as old as 2700 years.
Dambulla Cave Temple is the undisputed star of the town’s collection. Along with heart-stopping statues of the Buddha, the temples also shelter statues of holy figures, including Vishnu and Ganesh. The most dazzling and largest among the five temples is the Temple of the Great King. Inside, you will feel like you walked into a solemn spiritual meeting among 16 standing and 40 seated Buddha images and two statues of the kings. It is perhaps the most dramatic scene in all of Sri Lanka. And, the cavernous ambiance makes its entrancing charm all the more appealing.
The Buddha images in the caves were created 2000 years ago, having been repainted countless times by kings and rulers. The site has been a place of worship ever since. And today, the Dambulla cave monastery hosts hundreds of worshippers each year.
Tours visiting Dambulla
Splendours of Ceylon