By far, of all the cave temples that are found in Sri Lanka, the most impressive is the Dambulla Cave Temple. Situated in the town of Dambulla, 150km east of Colombo and located in the arid Northern Plains, these caves form the best preserved and biggest cave temple complex in Asia.
Locally, it is also renowned as the Golden Temple of Dambulla, with rock structures towering up to a height of 150 metres, overlooking the surrounding plains. It was dedicated as a World Heritage Site in 1991, by UNESCO.
Dambulla Cave Temple History
Although the surrounding areas have been documented to possess more than 80 different caves, basically five distinct caves constitute the Dambulla Cave Temple whose history dates back to the 1st century BC.
Out of these five, the most important includes the Cave of the Great Kings, the Cave of the Divine King and the Great New Monastery. All of these functioned as shrines, housing various statues and sculptures belonging to the Sinhala period.
In all, there are 153 statues, the most eminent being those of Buddha, which vary greatly in altitude and size, with the largest one being about 15 metres in length. One of the caves boasts more than 1,500 Buddha paintings and frescos, covering the entire ceiling and walls, reciting the story of Buddha’s life. Some statues are found to depict the Hindu Gods Ganesha and Vishnu as well. The total area covered by these caves is 2,000sqm.
Throughout the ages, the temple cave has undergone various modern constructions and maintenance undertakings, so that tourists do not miss out on exploring every nook and cranny of this mesmerizing and captivating attraction. Visitors should not miss the chance of exploring history like never before by visiting the Dambulla Cave Temple.
Location: 150km east of Colombo, 72km north of Kandy