Just around 30-minute drive from Sigiriya is another popular tourist attraction of Sri Lanka. It is also declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Dambulla Cave Temple is the largest Buddhist temple in the country under a huge rock which is well-preserved with its Buddha statues and paintings portraying Buddhist historical events. The rock cave is subdivided into five different compartments uniquely designed and created.
Dambulla Cave Temple is situated under an overhanging massive rock with a height of about 160 meters, just slightly lower than that of Sigiriya. But unlike Sigiriya, the climb was not demanding because the ascent was gradual. Within 15 minutes, we reached the temple. Visitors could also choose between stairs or a ramp in getting to the cave or a combination of both. While moving up, we stopped on some areas to capture the spectacular landscapes of the plains around the rock temple.
Reaching the entrance, it was mandatory for visitors to remove their shoes or slippers. It is not permitted to get inside the temple with our shoes on. There is a shoe keeper near the entrance gate where we left our sneakers for some small amount of fee. Also, in entering the temple, visitors must cover up their shoulders and legs to show respect for the religious site. For those who are wearing shorts and sleeveless top, sarongs could be rented there. In my case, I’m prepared with my sarong so I didn’t have to borrow one.
Upon presenting our ticket, we proceeded immediately to the caves. Certainly, the figures of Buddha sculpted out of the rock and the bright-colored paintings on the cave walls have blown me away. It was impressive! As we move from the first cave to another, my admiration intensifies for the artworks that has been created as early as the 2nd century BC.
The Cave of the Divine King
The cave is overshadowed by the enormous statue of Sleeping Buddha carved out of the rock which measures around 14 meters. At the feet of this colossal Buddha figure is his loyal disciple, Ananda. The murals on the cave walls have been repainted for several times as part of the renovations of the cave.
The Cave of the Great Kings
This cave is the largest among the five cave temples with a number of Buddha statues on different positions. The distinct characteristic of the cave is the stupa encircled by seated Buddha figures, and the life-size standing Buddha.
The Cave of the Great New Temple
The Cave of the Western Temple
The Cave of the Second New Temple
The Golden Buddha Temple
In getting down the Dambulla Cave Temple, we followed a different path which directed us towards the Golden Buddha Temple, situated just below the rock.
Tip: Wear comfortable clothes that cover the shoulders and the legs when visiting the cave temple. Bring a bottle of water, hat, towels, and an extra shirt when climbing the rock temple. Entrance fee is 1500 Sri Lankan Rupees per person. The monument is open at 7am to 7pm.