Welcome to Dambulla Cave Temple
Dambulla cave temple ( Dambulla Len Viharaya, Rangiri Dambulla Cave Temple) also known as the Golden Temple of Dambulla (Rangiri Dambulla Viharaya, Rangiri Dambulu Viharaya, Golden Rock Dambulla Temple) is one of the UNESCO World Heritage Site situates in the Dambulla, Matale District, Sri Lanka. It locates 148 km East of Colombo, 72 km North of Kandy, and 43 km North of Matale. If you plan to visit Sri Lanka, do not forget to visit the Dambulla Rajamaha Viharaya. It is a very unique and spectacular site.
We can identify that Dambulla is the largest and best-preserved cave temple complex in Sri Lanka. You can see five caves under a vast overhanging rock, carved with a drip line. According to the evidence, King Walagamba has built and enlarged the Dambulla temple. Also, he cut the drip-ledge (katarama) along the rock to protect the caves from rainwater.
There are more than 80 caves have documented in the surrounding area. More attractions spread over five caves with statues and paintings related to Gautama Buddha and his life. There are 153 Buddha statues, statues of Sri Lankan kings, and statues of gods and goddesses. The latter include Vishnu and the Ganesha.
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Dambulla Cave Temple and the Golden Temple
Dambulla Cave Temple and the Golden Temple are one temple complex. The Golden Temple locates at the bottom of the big rock. The Golden Temple is with the Golden Buddha on the roof of the Buddhist Museum. The Golden Temple is a beautiful and must-visit place at Dambulla temple.
Dambulla Cave Temple History
The history of the Dambulla cave temple dates back to the first century BCE. King Walagamba had hidden in the jungle and different caves to protect the Indian invaders. Among those places, the Dambulla cave is one of the places, monks lived and meditated. King Walagamba decided to transform these caves into a temple. It is now famously known as the Dambulla Cave Temple.
From time to time, most of the kings in Sri Lanka renovated this temple. As a result, the Dambulla cave temple became home to the World’s most acclaimed Cave complex of magnificent Buddha Images and Rock Paintings of vivid colors. The images and paintings have been constructed from the Anuradhapura era and continued up to the Kandyan era.
Directions to Golden Rock Dambulla Temple
Dambulla temple locates in the center of the Cultural Triangle of Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, and Kandy. You can reach the Dambulla cave temple by coming from Kandy along A9 road. The temple situates close to the main road. It is around 68 km from Kandy and the entrance to the Rock Temple by the main road. It is 2 km from Dambulla town.
Dambulla Cave Temple Map
The long staircase leads you to the cave temple. The caves are on the top. It will take around 15 minutes to climb. Do not forget to take your time during your hiking. There are viewpoints with picturesque surrounding areas includes the rock fortress Sigiriya. Also, make sure to bring enough water before your tour.
Dambulla Cave Temple Paintings and Five Caves
Cave No. 1 (Deva Raja Viharaya)
You will meet Deva Raja viharaya (Temple of the King of Gods) at the entrance of the Dambulla cave temple. The Bo tree is in front of the Devaraja Viharaya. Also, before entering the first cave, you will find a blue chapel dedicated to Kataragama on the right side.
There is a 45 feet length Sleeping postured Buddha statue that shows the Parinirvana status of the Lord Buddha in the cave. You will see the Venerable Ananda’s image near the feet of the colossal Sleeping Buddha statue. Also, there are another five standing images at the southern end of the cave. At the northern corner of the cave, there is a well-preserved statue of God Vishnu (some scholars believe that this is of God of Upulvan). In addition to that, you can see some wall and ceiling paintings in this cave.
Cave No. 2 Maha Raja Viharaya
The next cave is the largest and the most attractive cave due to its large number of Buddha statues. You can enter this cave through a Lofty archway. This cave (the temple of the Great King) has built by King Walagamba.
The cave is well repaired and painted using brilliant colors. Most of the statues are of Buddha and his life stories. You can find the statues of King Walagamba and King Nissankamalla and many wooden statues of Hindu Deities in this cave. We will see a stupa at the right of the cave entrance and seated Buddha images around the stupa.
The fascinating feature of this cave is the bowl placed at the right side of the cave to collect the dripping water droplet. Since the earlier times, this water source does not get dried up.
Cave No. 3 Maha Alut Viharaya
Maha Alut Viharaya (Great New Temple) is next to Cave No.2 and the second largest cave in the Dambulla cave temple. There are fifty Buddha statues in this cave. This Cave Constructed by King Kirti Sri Rajasinha. You can see the Dragon Arch-designed doorways. The frescoes in the cave show the numerous historical events of Buddhism. Those are belonging to the Kandyan period.
Cave No. 4 Paschima Viharaya
The Paschima Viharaya or the Western Temple is the smallest cave of the Dambulla temple. There are meditating Buddha’s statue and some more Buddha’s images painted on the walls. The images are preserved and painted in brilliant colors in the Kandyan period. The Stupa is in the middle of the cave.
Cave No. 5 Devana Alut Viharaya
Devana Alut Viharaya (Second New Temple) is the newest cave in the Dambulla temple. They have used brick and plaster to create the statues of this cave. There is a large reclined Buddha image. It is about 32 feet in length.
Dambulla Cave Temple Opening Hours
Dambulla Cave Temple complex is open for visitors every day from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm. But the ticket counter closes at 5:00 pm. So, make sure you arrive in time to get your ticket. It will take around 2 hours to reach the caves. The climb is not that hard, but you will take a break or two on the way.
Best Time to visit Dambulla caves
The best time to visit the Dambulla cave temple depends on the weather. According to my experience, the best time to visit Dambulla Cave Temple is early morning. Also, it is less busy. Dambulla is one of the best spots for viewing the sunset. It will take an hour to look at five caves, so plan to be cave temple complex 1.5 hours before sunset. Also, keep in mind that the ticket counter closes at 5 pm.
Dambulla Cave Temple Entrance Fee
The entrance fee for the Dambulla Cave Temple is LKR 1,500. Prices are half for children ages between 5 and 12 years, and below that, entry is free for kids. Make sure to pay in cash.
- Kandalama Hotel or Heritance Kandalama
- Amaya Lake Dambulla
- Jetwing Lake Dambulla
- Jetwing Vil Uyana
- Watergarden Sigiriya
- Sigiriya Jungle
Places to Visit in Dambulla
- Kaluduya Pokuna ruins
- Kandalama Bunt
- Popham’s Arboretum
- Thalkote View Point
- Ibbankatuwa Lake
- Rose quartz mountain range (Namal Uyana)