Dambulla Cave Temple

Dambulla Cave Temple: The Best Place to See in Dambulla

One of the best ancient Buddhist temple in Sri Lanka, the Dambulla Cave Temple! The hand carved caves with different Buddha statues and eye-catching paintings on the walls are something you should definitely not miss, if you are visiting Dambulla. Let’s start with the details of Dambulla Cave Temple: The Best Place to See in Dambulla!

Dambulla Cave Temple: The Best Place to See in Dambulla

Dambulla Cave Temple, also known as Rock Temple Dambulla, is one of the most ancient and well preserved temple in Sri Lanka. Can you imagine that this temple is over 2000 years old? It is also the largest cave temple in Sri Lanka. The temple is initially carved by Buddhist monks to create a monastery and occupied by Buddhist hermits. There are still Buddhists rituals organized in this temple.

Valagamba, the one of the king of Anuradhapura has lived in this monastery for 15 years as refugee in order to hide from South Indians. Once he was back to his kingdom in Anuradhapura, he showed his gratitude to the monks by enlarging the temple. Later kings also followed him and supported the temple enlargement.

Caves of the Dambulla Cave Temple

There are 5 caves and 153 Buddha statues spread between the caves.

Cave 1, called as Dev-Raja-viharaya (Temple of the King of Gods), and has a massive reclining Buddha statue. This Buddha statue has paintings under its feet, looks like henna.

Cave 2 is the largest and also the most impressive cave among them due to the wide paintings. Artists draw 53 captivating Buddha and symbol images through the length of 52,5 m. The main Buddha statue is covered with gold leafs. In this cave, there is also a bowl to collect dropping water from the stone, which is then used for the sacred rituals.

Cave 3, also called as Maha Alut Viharaya (The Great New Temple), is separated from Cave 2 by a stone wall. The surface of cave 3 has also several paintings and there are 50 Buddha statues in this cave.

Cave 4 is the Paschima Viharaya (The Western Temple) and contains 10 statues of Buddha. The Buddha statue in the middle has meditation pose.

Cave 5, Devana Alut Viharaya (The Second New Temple), does not have a historical value as it was built up in the second decade of the century.

How can you reach the Dambulla Cave Temple?

Dambulla is 25 min from Sigiriya, 2 h from Kandy and 3 h 30 min from Colombo by car. You can go to this temple by tuk-tuk or by bus.

There are 2 entrances to this temple however only one entrance sells the ticket. Therefore, you need to go to the Kandy Road entrance (not Kandy-Jaffna Road entrance). Here you can also find a free parking lot. If you are going by tuk-tuk or motorcycle, it would solve the parking problem. If you are going by bus, you would need to walk approximately 25 min from Vihara Junction to the Kandy Road entrance. The ticket control is on the top, just before entering the caves.

After reaching the Kandy Road entrance, you will climb through the stairs to the top as the temple is located in 160 m from the ground. The stairs become steep closer to the top. It takes about 20-30 min to climb through the stairs.

On the way to the temple, you can see several monkeys. So it is better to keep your food in your bag, otherwise they would be trying to steal it from you. 🙂

When is the best time to visit the temple?

You can buy the entrance tickets between 7 am to 5 pm. As there are many visitors during the day, it would be better to the visit the temple as early as possible.

What is the dress code for the temple?

As the steps are getting steeper in the last part, you might consider to wear a non-slippery shoe. Even a regular snicker would be fine. You wouldn’t need a hiking shoe.

Before entering the temple, you need to cover your shoulders and knees. A scarf might be useful in this case if you are wearing something that is not appropriate for the temple. Also we would recommend to bring sock with you as you need to take of your shoes before entering the temple. Moreover, if you are wearing a hat, you need to take it off before the entrance.

Is it allowed to take photo in the temple?

In this sacred temple, it is not permitted to take photos with people if you turn your back to the Buddha statues. However you can have a photo from your back once you are facing the Buddha statue. As this temple is a sacred place, you should not take the photo of the people, who are praying.

Golden Buddha

If you are coming to the Dambulla Cave Temple, you should also see the Golden Buddha. It is located in the Kandy-Jaffna Road entrance.

After climbing to the Dambulla Cave Temple, you can go down with the stairs in the direction of Golden Buddha. Once the stairs are over then you would see the Golden Buddha with its glory on the left hand side.

We would recommend to come here with tuk-tuk especially if you have your bags or luggages with you, like we had. So, you can leave your bags or luggages in tuk-tuk and start to climb the Dambulla Cave Temple from the Kandy Road entrance after buying the ticket. Then you can walk down to the Golden Buddha and inform your tuk-tuk driver to meet in front of the Golden Buddha entrance in the Kandy-Jaffna Road. So you would hit two birds with one stone! 🙂

Our article for Dambulla Cave Temple: The Best Place to See in Dambulla ends here. What do you think about this extraordinary temple? Would you visit it? Join us in the comments below. 🙂

Also read: The Ultimate Guide to See Sri Lanka: 3-Weeks Itinerary

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