What is attractive about the cave complex?
Dambulla cave temple is famous for its architecture, that it has been built inside and around a series of caves. There is a large rock roofing the 5 cave temples that tourists get to visit. The rock has been carved for centuries to make room for these beautiful caves. It is said that the oldest cave dates back to the first century BC.
It is one of the ancient and religiously significant cave temples in Sri Lanka that has been well preserved and maintained for hundreds of years. There are numerous Buddha statues in different poses carved out of stones, sculptures of gods and wall paintings. All caves are dimly lit during the day naturally.
Cave 01 – Devaraja Lena
Inside there is a forty-seven feet long statue of Buddha Parinirvana, which is the elegant sleeping posture of Lord Buddha which signifies the moment Lord Buddha passed away. Then there is the statue of Venerable Ananda thero, the close disciple of Lord Buddha worshiping.
The wall paintings are fading because in recent years it has not been repainted and the incense lighting devotees used to d inside, however most of it is being carefully preserved.
Cave 02 – Maharaja Lena
It is also known as the cave of Great kings. Maharaja lena is the largest of all the caves. It includes statues of King Valagamba and King Nissankamalla at the entrance of the cave. The stupa inside is surrounded by eleven seated buddha statues. We see statues of all 3 posture of Lord Buddha; seated, standing and sleeping postures. One of the highlights in Maharaja lena is the life size Buddha standing statue made of granite. It is one of the gilded statues done in king Nissankamalla’s period. Walls are painted with significant events from Buddhist history and then the roof has murals and different designs covering its rough surface. All in all the massive cave is an eye catching sight. It is full of color and retains a lot of its original state.
Cave 03 – Maha Aluth Viharaya
It was built by King Keerti Sri Rajasinghe during the Kandyan Kingdom. There are two entrances to the cave with Makara thorana decorating them. You will notice one seated buddha statue in the center being surrounded by a long line of standing buddha statues on either side. The highlighted statue in the middle has an arched dragon thorana design above. Near one of the cave entrances you can find the statue of King Keerti Sri Rajasinghe and behind it, on the wall is a mural of four of the king’s attendees. This mural in this cave shows characteristics of Kandyan kingdom’s architecture. The rock ceiling is covered with paintings and overall inside is full of colors.
Cave 04 – Paccima Viharaya
Similar to other caves, in this cave there is one highlighted seated buddha statue with a makara thorana design around, then there several other buddha statues surrounding it on both sides. There is also a small dageba(chethiya) inside which is believed to contain the jewelry given by Somawathi, the queen of King Valagamba. Additionally there are murals painted on the walls of the cave from Buddhist historical events. The ceiling again is decorated with various colorful patterns.
Cave 05 – Devana Aluth Viharaya
On the passageway to cave 05 you can observe the wooden framework is finely attached to the rock. There are beautiful designs carved onto the pillars although it is decaying a bit.
Devana Aluth Viharaya has eleven buddha statues and sculptures. It includes the statues of all three posture of Lord Buddha; standing, seated and sleeping. There are also a few murals painted on the wall and beautiful ancient designs painted on the rock ceiling. Compared to the other 4 caves the statues you find in here are made of brick and plaster.
How to get to Dambulla Cave temple?
The temple complex is built within the Cultural Triangle(Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa and Kandy).
From Kandy, use the A9 main road. It will be a bit more than 2 hours on the road.
From Sigiriya it will take about 30 minutes to reach the Cave complex.
From the car park there will be a gavel path for small distance and then begins the steps. These steps are carved out of the natural rock and on the way you can enjoy some view of the surrounding area as you reach the top of the rock.
Tips for the Visitors
Wear something long, below your knees and better to wear something that has long sleeves.
Have a guide to tour you around to get the best out of the place.
Try to begin your journey for the day from here, because climbing steps in the afternoon sun will be tiring.
Don’t feed the monkeys that come near you.