Dambulla Cave Temple

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Label : Must Visit

Tags : Temple

Timings : 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM

The cave temples are open till 7:00 PM, but most of the time, tickets get sold out till 5:00 PM. Hence it is advisable to get there either early in the morning or by late afternoon. Remember to get your tickets at the counter at the bottom of the hill. Or else you will have to climb down to get them.

Time Required : 2-3 hours

Entry Fee : LKR 1500

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Dambulla Royal Cave Temple , Sigiriya Overview

The Dambulla Cave Temple, also called the Golden Temple of Dambulla, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is the best-preserved and most extensive cave temple complex in the country, comprising five main caves, each possessing numerous statues of Lord Buddha and some figures of kings and statues of Lord Vishnu.

The Dambulla temples can be reached only on foot by climbing the Dambulla Rock. The climb offers a panoramic view of the flatlands below, and even if it may get tough for some, the temples and the viewpoints are worth the effort. The Dambulla Rock also offers a brilliant view of the Sigiriya Rock Fortress. The five rock caves of Dambulla have different names, and each of them holds a significance of its own, embodied in the paintings and sculptures inside the cave. Each of the caves was built at different periods of Sri Lanka's history and will give one an insight into the evolving culture, and that is what makes it the most beautiful heritage site to visit. The Dambulla Cave Temple is a part of the 'Cultural Triangle' in Sri Lanka comprising the town of Sigiriya, Dambulla, and the city of Kandy. 

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Architecture of Dambulla Cave Temple

The Dambulla temples lie under a vast overhanging rock, about 150 metres in height, under which there are five main caves, each of different sizes, and each holding a significance. The interiors are painted depicting images with religious significance, mainly focusing on The Buddha and Buddhist scriptures. The rock has a drip line carved on to it to prevent the interiors from getting wet during rains. These caves were built by King Valagamba, by adding walled partitions under the overhang. Out of the five caves, the first one is called 'Devarajalena Vihara' - Lord of the Gods temple. It is known for the Sleeping Buddha Statue that is 45 feet in length. The second cave is called 'Maharajalena Vihara' - Temple of the Great Kings. As the name suggests, this cave is dedicated to the kings Valagamba, and Nissankamalla. The third cave is called 'Maha Alut Viharya' - The Great New Temple'. It was constructed later with many more Buddha statues. The fourth and fifth cave also have some beautiful statues of Buddha.

History of Dambulla Cave Temple

This series of caves were constructed by King Valagamba when he came back to power after he was dethroned. It was built as a gesture to honour his hiding place since he used to visit and hide in these caves often after he lost power. After him, King Nissankamalla was responsible for the restoration of these caves and temples. He believed that many Buddhist monks dwelled in the caves, and restored the temples in their honour. Now, the statues of these two kings can be found in these caves. Many archaeologists have found numerous human bones and skeletons, as evidence that prehistoric humans frequented the caves.

Tips While Visiting Dambulla Cave Temple

Some things to keep in mind while visiting this temple are:

Since this is a temple, you should prefer wearing clothes that cover your shoulders and knees, as a gesture of respect towards the culture.

You will be required to remove your shoes at the entrance. But the stone pathway can get hot and may hurt your feet, so remember to bring a pair of socks to protect your feet from the hot and sharp stones.

It is essential to stay hydrated throughout the visit. So don't forget to bring water with you.

Take care of your belongings - there are monkeys around who may try to steal your bags and food.

How To Reach Dambulla Cave Temple

You can reach the Dambulla caves by taking a local bus from Sigiriya. You need to get to the main road to find a bus, or another option is to opt for a taxi. 

If you need to get to Dambulla from Kandy, you can catch a bus from the central bus stand at Kandy.

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