Dambulla Cave Temple

It is certainly most well-known that the way towards the cave temple is a steep climb however visitors are rewarded with breath taking scenery of green plains, between hills and the lavishly decorated temple. The oldest artwork here dates back to the pre-Christian era and the newest from the 20th century.

 

Overview of Dambulla

Province: Central

Altitue: approximately 575ft above sea level

 

This is a small town on the road between Matale and Anuradhapura and is best known for the five caves with numerous Buddha statues and some incredibly unique wall and ceiling produced by the Sinhalese artists. The town does not boast anything to visit however the the large daily market on the Matale road is worth a visit.

 

History

Probabaly one or two of the caves of Dambulla were already holy places in prehistoric times. In the 1st century BC they were taken ober by Buddhist momks. In 102 BC King Vatta Gamani Abhaya also known as Valagam Bahu hid here when he was driven out of NAuradhapuraby the tamils, not until BC85 did he succeed  in regaining his kingdom. Out of gratitude to the monks who had offered him shelter he transformed the caves inot magnificent temples making them destination for pilgrims.

 

The Temple museum

Visiting Hours Daily from 7.30am to 4.30pm, Admission charge

You can visit the museum at the car park by the caves of Dambulla that exhibits replicas of some of the artworks from the caves. The explanations are in English, allowing visitors to gain a good overview of the magnificent centuries long period of artistic creation.

 

Ascent to the Temple

The Black granite cliff, Dambulla gala is climbed via its east side. The ascent leads first along a simple track and then up about 250 steps cut into the rock. From top platform  there is a fine view of the jungle landscape with its many resevoiurs, while on clear sunny day the imposing cliffs if Sigiriya are visible  in the distance, In the temple forecourt an inscription in memory of King Nissanka Malla can ve seen diretly to the right. The entrances to the cabves are located beneath the projecting cliff wall and are marked by open structures built on the cliff: the gable above the main entrance is shaped like a dagoba. The first 3 caves are the oldest,  and in part date back to the 1st century BC the other 2 caves are no older than the 18th century.

About the Caves

Visiting Hours Daily 8am to 5pm

Cave 1: Devaraje Lena

The first cave contains a 46ft statue of a recumbent Buddah wh is just about to cross into Nirvana was cut straignt from the rock. His favourite pupil Ananda is sitting in front of him. The wall and ceiling frescoes partially restored date back to the 1st century BC.

 

Cave2: Maharaja Lena

The second rosck Temple is 197ft long and 98ft wide abd up to 49ft high making it not just the largest but also the most beautiful rock temple and also the one with the most precious treasures.

 

Cave 3: Maha Alut Viharaya

The Buddah statues in the third cave largely date from the 18th century. They include the main cult icon whichdepicts Buddah under the Makara arch, as well as the last Kandy King Sri Keerti Raja Sinha. Here too the walls are lavishly covered with bright frescoes, they depict Buddhas and bodhisattvas in various sizes and poses as well as with different skin colours. They are made out of marble sandalwood and ebonyto achieve that effect.

 

Cave 4: Pacchima Viharaya

The small fourth cave contains five statues in folksy Kandy style. The small dagoba allegedly once contained the crown jewels of the wife of the King Valagamba.

 

Cave 5: Davana Aluth Viharaya

The most recent of the five caves has a recumbent Buddah as well as several characters of the Hindu pantheon datingfrom more reent times.  The frescoes date from the late Kandy period.

 

Getting here

No matter what time you land in the Colombo International Airport a confirmed pick is the most comforting solution to have peace of mind.

Hope in to the car and you’ll be chauffeured to the best resting place nearby located 2 km from the airport. So that takes your hassle of travelling along way post an exhausting flight travel.

The following morning after a delicious breakfast you can now begin the journey to Dambulla from Negombo. By car the journey is a 115km long through beautiful picturesque landscape along the A9 road.

 

Where to stay

There is pretty much plenty of options to choose from when deciding where to relax after a long day.

Here are some recommended hotels close by to wind down a pleasant evening

 

Amaya Lake ($$$-$$$$) is located 10km from Dambulla in the middle of a large park. The 95 rooms are decorated with Sri Lankan handicrafts. 3 restaurants serve local and international cuisine, there is a bar in the evening and the spa has 14 treatment rooms.

 

Heritance Kandalama ($$$-$$$$) was designed by the famous Geoffrey Bawa. The property has 152 rooms with a lavish and pleasing interior. The views from some of the rooms of the Laka Kandalama can be very impressively beautiful. Apart of the obligatory trip to the Dambulla cave temple the hotel offers other exciting programmes that include riding elephants, trekking and mountain biking. The hotel boasts two restaurants.

 

Culture Club ($$-$$$) is located in a lovely park not far from the famous rock temple. It has 92 very comfortable rooms and 2 restaurants.

 

Gimanhala Hotel ($$) is a small hotel with 17 rooms (air conditioned) a restaurant, a bar located at the northern end of Dambulla. Feel free to use their pool.

 

Dambulla Guest House ($) since its renevoation has become a small, cosy hotel. The service is attentive while the restaurant serves tasty local and international food. You can also meet fellow travellers at the bar that faces the street.

 

Plenty of tourists visit Dambulla year round. If you wish to visit the Dambulla and would like to arrange you the hassle free, excellent tour email me at allanrobinson7@gmail.com

Experience it differently like no other has!

 

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