Standing proudly at a high ascension in the central hills of tropical Sri Lanka, with blue skies and a blissful sun that warms you up, Dambulla is one of the most historical and architecturally advanced places in the country. Enriched with history, Dambulla is home to rich Theravada Buddhism, and therefore it’s adorned with many temples and cave aramas (stay-in temples). With breathtaking paintings that awes you for its intricate nature, vibrant colors with in-built dagobas, it’s definitely home to Sri Lankan artistry.
Dambulla has a rich history that runs back to as early as the prehistoric period. With the findings of the Ibbankatuwa Prehistoric burial site near Dambulla, analysis shows that this place had been occupied long before the arrival of Buddhism. There’s been more evidence of a stable civilization that was backed by agriculture.
It also gives evidence to being inhibited as early as the 3rd century BC. The creatively built statues and paintings that adorn the caves are said to date back to the 1st century BC. It’s also found out that some of these paintings and statues were repaired and repainted in the 11th, 12th and 18th century AD.
The history trial leads to King Walagamba who was escaping the Cholas who occupied the country after a war, had found refuge in these temples by the Buddhist monks who were meditating in these caves. After regaining the throne in Anuradhapura, he erected magnificent, iconic rock temples to offer his gratitude to the monks in Dambulla. With these incredible historical monuments standing proud, you can visit Dambulla, Sri Lanka and take an adventure back to historical times!
Weather and Distance to Dambulla
Dambulla is blessed with a warm sun that shines bright at most times. There are times for summer showers that fall, but mostly it’s very sunny! You’ll love the tropical feels!
Dambulla stands 148 kid away from the current capital, Colombo, and 72kms away from Kandy, the central province.
Sights in Dambulla
Visit the Royal Rock Temple
History running back to the times of King Walagamba, (Vattagamani Abaya) this iconic, mind blowing creation lies in a high ascension, with a panoramic view. This temple was erected by the King, and he has had the interior of the caves carved into majestic rock temples. This is home to the cave temples and is visited by tourists and locals. It’s a very spiritually cleansing place and also a very beautiful place.
Dambulla Cave Temples
The five beautiful caves (shrines) in Dambulla are adorned by statues of the Lord Buddha and various venerable personalities according to Buddhist faith. There are 150 Buddha images. These caves are intricately decorated with immaculate paintings that are of different influences and time periods. The sculptures and the architectural standpoint of these caves are incredible, and the craftsmanship is highly reflected.
Cave No.1 (Deva Raja Viharaya)
Known as the temple of the King of Gods for it’s believed that the Sakka (King among Gods) helped with the final touches for this cave, it has the image of the Parinibbana (the last moment) of the Lord Buddha. The technique that’s been used for this is elaborate and there’s extreme attention to detail that is simply is breathtaking. There are ceiling paintings that are now quite damaged due to incense but you can still see traces.
Cave No.2 (Maha Raja Viharaya)
This is the most impressive and the largest standing caves with an archway at the opening portal, with guardians of stone. This is known as the Maha Raja Viharaya because of the Vattagamani Abaya Kings influence.
The cave is vibrantly painted across 172 feet. There are 53 images of the Buddha, each slightly different from the other.
The main center of it is the standing Buddha with the abaya mudra exuding loving kindness to all.
Cave No.3 (Maha Aluth Viharaya)
The Great New Temple was erected in the temples of King Kirti Sri Rajasinga with new paintings and renovations. The cave is about 90 feet long, 81 feet wide, and is decorated with vibrant colors of frescoes of numerous Buddhist events. The tradition of art which is of the Kandyan period.
Cave No.4 (Paschima Viharaya)
The fourth temple is about 54 feet long and 26 wide with 10 statutes of the Buddha. The figure of the Buddha in the dhyana position reflects the fine preservation and brilliant skills.
The end of the great caves, this possesses beautiful paintings and statues that adorn the place as well. The influence is derived from the Kandyan period is artistically displayed.
Visit the Dambulla Museum
With paintings and preserved artifacts that you’d be amazed to see, you can visit the museum to see witness the past. With findings about the prehistoric times as well as the latter part of the Kingdoms of Sri Lanka, Dambulla museum is a very interesting place to visit! You’ll learn so much and it’ll be a new enriching experience!
Visit the Rose Quartz Mountain Range!
Looking for an adventurous hike?! Well, you can visit South Asia’s largest Rose Quartz mountain range. Renowned as a world heritage site, it has 7 beautiful mountains of rose hold. The beauty of these Quartz Mountains is accentuated with misty films that surround them in a pink glow. It’s also said that Emperor Shah Jahan imported these rose quartz for the incredible monument, Taj Mahal.
The Golden Temple
Yes, this is a temple of gold. With statutes of gold, this place is a must-see! It has a Buddhist statue in the dhammachakra mudra and the architectural designs and paintings are of modern design. You can compare and contrast the different if you make your trip here!
Where to stay in Dambulla
Dambulla offers a number of accommodation options to suit you! With great hotels and resorts in the area, you can choose whatever you like. From as low 10$ to 5 star hotels ready to accommodate you, it’s your choice to suit your budget!
Dambulla offers authentic Sri Lankan food enriched with spices and incredible flavor you’ll fall in love with! You’ll definitely want to take the recipe home!
Dambulla is a place you must visit to see the grandeur of Sri Lankan culture and heritage. Do visit this place and gain experience like no other! Visit Sri Lanka today!
Want a more tropical adventure? Try Nilaveli, Sri Lanka!