Dambulla is a town built around a large granite outcrop, home to numerous caves used as sanctuaries or monasteries. The town has become renowned for the majestic site of the Golden Temple and its famous reclining Buddha; it is now a famous pilgrimage site.
This is one of the best-preserved sites in Sri Lanka. Its beauty and history have made it a UNESCO World Heritage Site . Dambulla numbers 80 caves, 5 sanctuaries and 4 monasteries. It also has no less than 157 statues, and countless images of Buddha featuring in breathtaking paintings.
HISTORY OF THE DAMBULLA CAVE TEMPLE IN SRI LANKA
This temple plays an important part in the country’s history because it was chosen as a refuge. Indeed, this is where King Valagamba took shelter after being driven out of his capital Anuradhapura. Between the 12th and the 18thcentury these caves were embellished and decorated, becoming true silver and gold sanctuaries.
Dambulla was also a very strategic place. It’s considered to be the geographical centre of the island and it stands in the heart of the Cultural Triangle. Moreover it was an important transit point between the dry eastern region and the west, and between the dry areas and the mountainous centre.
DAMBULLA AS A PILGRIMAGE SITE
Dambulla and its various temples are one of the highlights of any trip to Sri Lanka. Here you are right at the heart of Buddhist culture. The raised temples can be reached through a staircase nearly 180 metres high. Once at the top you reach a big square that leads to the entrance of the cave sanctuaries.
Several temples can be visited. We remind you that you need to take your shoes off as a sign of respect. Two sanctuaries are particularly important. Devaraja Vihara, the first one, is the “Temple of the Divine King”. It is renowned for displaying magnificent paintings with vibrant reds and golds, relating the childhood of Siddhartha, who became Buddha. The second one is Maharaja Vihara, “the Temple of the Great Kings”. This is the largest cave, where visitors can admire around 53 statues of Buddha covered in gold. The visit takes place in dimmed lighting conditions.
After discovering the various temples you can enjoy the magnificent views from the square: at the top of the hill you have superb vistas over the lakes and forests towards Matale. You will also have the opportunity to see monkeys at close range. In fact, monkeys are the sacred guardians of the Golden Temple. They are harmless and will hang around the temples’ entrance and exit to beg a few peanuts from you.
Dambulla is an important cultural site in Sri Lanka, and the island as a whole boasts a rich cultural heritage . Touring the country will give you the opportunity to learn more about Sri Lankan culture, and take you to the most famous and majestic sites. You can also discover its stunning natural heritage.
Whether travelling as a family or on your honeymoon, Sri Lanka is a vibrant destination that will stay with you forever.