Cave temples of Dambulla

Hewn into a 160m granite outcrop are the remarkable cave temples of Dambulla. Located at the center of the island, 116km from Colombo, and on the main route north to Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa, the cave temples are masterpieces of Buddhist art. Each is filled with murals depicting scenes from the Buddha’s life, and gilded statues of the Buddha in various poses.

In the 1st century BC, the caves provided refuge to a king who fled a South Indian invasion. On reclaiming his throne, the grateful king had temples constructed in the caves that had sheltered him. These were embellished by subsequent rulers, especially during the Kandyan period in the 17th and 18th centuries.

Altogether, there are five caves. Cave 2, the Maharaja Vihara is the largest and most spectacular at over 50m long, 7m high and almost 25m deep. The spiritual energy at Dambulla is palpable and the Buddhist art on display is unparalleled in Sri Lanka. An added bonus is the majestic view from the top of the rock.

Dambulla Cave Temple is perfectly located within what is known as the cultural triangle. On one side is the great city of Anuradhapura the ancient capital of Sri Lanka and the other side world famous Sigiriya and on the other side is Kandy, the capital of the Kandyan Kingdom. In 1991 the Dambulla cave Temple was named as another world heritance site in Sri Lanka. This Temple is situated in 600 feet high and the rock on which it sits spans 2000 feet in length.

In this cave there is evidence that the people have been living in this area for over three thousand years. These ancient caves have become a grand temple for the monks of Sri Lanka.