When visiting Sri Lanka, it’s difficult not to be impressed by Dambulla Cave Temple or the Golden Temple of Dambulla. Over the centuries, the caves of Dambulla have been a sanctuary for monks and a refuge for royalty.
Dambulla Caves is one of the most incredible places to visit in Sri Lanka and it’s worth spending a few hours exploring.
If you’re planning a longer trip, take a look at this 10 day Sri Lanka itinerary to help with your planning.
Why should I visit Dambulla Cave Temple?
The cave monastery is a well-preserved cave-temple complex of five caves, each with beautiful and extensive Buddhist mural paintings on the walls and ceilings.
Dambulla’s caves are historic and truly impressive. Besides the ancient cave paintings, there are 157 statues.
The five caves house a treasure trove of religious art. It’s mind-boggling to think that the first of these statues and drawings were created over 2000 years ago.
According to the history books, the ruler of Anuradhapura took refuge in these caves during a war. After regaining his throne, the king decided to pay homage to his place of refuge and turned them into rock temples.
It is evident from the different artistic styles that subsequent rulers continued to maintain these caves. They are from different periods.
Where is Dambula Cave Temple?
Dambulla Cave Temple is in southern Dambulla in Sri Lanka, about 20km from Sigiriya (which is another famous landmark).
Don’t miss Cave I (Devaraja Viharaya), also known as the Temple of the King of the Gods and its impressive giant reclining Buddha.
Cave II (Maharaja Viharaya) or the Temple of the Great King is big and spectacular. There are two statues of kings, Hindu deities and a Buddha statue under an archway decorated with dragons.
Cave III (Maha Alut Viharaya) is called the New Great Temple and was converted from a storeroom in the 18th century by the King of Kandy.
Discover Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka is a magnet for travellers who love history and nature.
The Dambulla Cave Temple is a popular stop on most Sri Lanka itineraries.
Find out more about travelling around Sri Lanka by road and don’t miss these amazing places to visit in Anuradhapura.
Other stops for your Sri Lanka tour include Polonnaruwa, Galle and Sirigaya.