is best known for its wonderful cave temple complex dating back to 2nd
century BC. Preserved diligently by Sri Lanka, Dambulla caves have been
declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The cave complex is a
conglomeration of five caves holding magnificent statues and elegant
scriptures. Famous Iron Wood Forest and Rose Quartz Mountains add to the
glory of Dambulla.
Best preserved cave temple complex in Sri Lanka has highlighted Dambulla on
the world tourist map. The rock inside which the temples are carved out
towers 160m over the neighboring plains. The complex holds more than 80
documented caves. This is an impressive complex of 5 cave image houses
containing more than 150 Buddha and other idols. Elegantly painted walls and
ceilings add to impact of the place. The cave complex has the total of 153
Buddha idols, 3 statues of Sri Lankan monarchs and 4 idols of deities. The
five caves have been built at the base of a 150 m high rock. The largest
cave is 23m from its entrance to back and at the highest point it is 7m
First cave is locally called Devraja Lena or 'Cave of the Divine King'. The
cave has towering presence of 14-meter Buddha statue, hewn out of rock.
Second cave, also the largest, is called Maharaja Lena or 'Cave of the
Great Kings', for it hosts largest statues of King Vattagamani and King
Nissanka Mala. The former monarch honored the monastery in 1st century BC
while the latter gilded 50 statues in the 12th century.
Third cave is Maha Alut Vihara or 'Great New Monastery'. During the rule of
King Kirti Sri Rajasinha (1747-1782), the famous Buddhist revivalist,
acquired Kandy style ceiling and wall paintings.
Fourth and Fifth Caves
Fourth and fifth caves are not as big in size and lack in quality.
Dambulla cave complex harks back to 3rd and 2nd centuries BC. Even before
the making of the complex it was well established as one of the largest
monasteries in Sri Lanka. Credit of converting the caves into a temple in
the 1st century BC goes to King Valagambahu. Forced to flee from Capital
Anuradhapura by South indian invaders, he sought refuge. After capturing his
capital again, he built a temple in the site of his refuge as his gratitude.
The site was added to by several kings later. In the course of several
centuries, the caves became a major religious centre.
Dambulla is also known for bird watching. It hosts Iron Wood Forest and
Rose Quartz Mountain.
Forest and the Mountain
Iron Wood Forest (Namal Uyana) and Rose Quarts Mountain are other
attractions of Dambulla. Iron Wood Forest is considered the oldest garden in
Sri Lanka. King Dappula declared the site a human sanctuary in 10th century
AD. Hundreds of variety of plants were planted here. Rose Quartz mountain
range, more than 500 million years old, are geologically important. The site
has quartz deposits of white, rose and violet color.
Distance From Various Places