Dambulla Cave Temple – Sri Lanka, otherwise known as the Golden Temple of Dambulla, is the biggest complex of its kind in the country. It is also the most well-preserved.
Dambulla Cave Temple – Sri Lanka is situated in the Matale District within the Central Province of the country. It is approximately twelve kilometers off the Ancient City of Sigiriya.
There are bus services that you can take going to Matale from major parts of the Central Province. From Matale Road, the Dambulla Cave Temple – Sri Lanka is just about 1.5 kilometers away which is easily accessible on foot.
The cave complex is also a short distance from the Heritance Kandalama Hotel and if budget is not a problem, your best option is to get your accommodations in this hotel so you can easily walk up down to the complex.
What to See
The cave complex of the Dambulla Cave Temple – Sri Lanka has over eighty caves but the top tourist attractions are five of these caves whose statues as well as murals are well-preserved.
These five caves are: Cave of the Divine King, Cave of the Great Kings, Great New Monastery and the remaining two are simply called 4th and 5th Caves.
Inside the Cave of the Divine King, you can see a towering statue of the Buddha standing fourteen meters high. By the Buddha’s feet is a figure of Ananda, Buddha’s favorite student.
The Cave of the Great Kings meanwhile, is the largest cave of the five caves. Inside the cave, you can find sixteen statues of the Buddha standing and forty statues of the Buddha sitting.
There are also the statues of the Hindu gods Vishnu and Saman. This is called as the Cave of the Great Kings perhaps due to the fact that two statues of great kings also stand inside the cave: King Vattagamani Abhaya and King Nissanka Malla.
The Great New Monastery has its ceiling and walls adorned with beautiful murals. A statue of Buddhist revivalist, King Kirti Sri Rajasinha also stands inside the cave together with fifty various statues of the Buddha.
Finally, the last two caves are of smaller dimensions and what attracts the faithful is a statue of Vishnu Devale which stands between the two caves.
The Dambulla Cave Temple – Sri Lanka dates as far back as the first century. It is deemed as the most impressive cave complex in the entire Asian region.
The Great New Monastery on the other hand, is considered as the most well-preserved ancient religious structure in the country.
The monastery cave dates as far back as the Second and Third Century B.C. It is believed that the caves gave refuge to exiled king, King Valagambahu. He took to the caves for fifteen years.
When the king finally regained control of Anuradhapura, the king converted the caves into a temple.
The cost to visit the Dambulla Cave Temple – Sri Lanka is roughly around US$10 or about 1,200 Sri Lankan Rupees.
The Dambulla Cave Temple – Sri Lanka is part of Sri Lanka’s Cultural Triangle together with the ancient cities of Polonnaruwa and Sigiriya as well as the sacred cities of Anuradhapura and Kandy.