So, you’ve been mulling the idea of heading for a holiday to Sri Lanka? Guess what? Half the world seems to be thinking the same thing right now so get here pronto and see why everyone’s raving about why Sri Lanka should be on everyone’s bucket list and savour the magic.
If you love going off the beaten path with attractions, we’ve got the perfect gem for you to explore: the Dambulla Caves – a real treat for you to fall in love with!
What exactly are the Dambulla Caves?
One of the eight UNESCO attractions this stunning island offers, the Dambulla Caves, sitting atop a 160-meter high rock, has been a Buddhist pilgrim’s destination for centuries. The cave complex consists of five different caves cut into the rock, each with different interiors and a wealth of murals and statues – though many people with a quick glance would assume they are similar. Each of the five caves varies in interest and purpose and each one has an interesting piece of history threaded along.
Theses caves were converted into temples and they date back to the first century BC. It has been added to over the course of years and the caves of today were restored as they stand now by the Kandyan Kingdom in the 18th century. These stunning caves are covered with exquisite 2,000 year-old murals depicting the life of Lord Buddha. The caves also house 153 Buddha statues, statues of Sri Lankan kings as well as different gods and goddesses together an incredible 15 metre long reclining Buddha statue. Brilliantly coloured frescoes grace the walls and ceilings, making the caves one of the largest antique painted surfaces in the world.
The largest and the most stunning of these caves is the Temple of the Great King. The entire surface of the cave is swathed in a vibrant mosaic of frescoes, the details of which are so perfect and faultless. Beyond the never-ending repetitions of seated Buddha statues and geometric motifs, there are band of graceful tendrils and flowers that tell the life and times of Lord Buddha. There are also murals of fierce battles and some others even showcasing important events in the illustrious history of Sri Lanka.
It’s said that pre-historic Sri Lankans would have lived in these caves before the advent of Buddhism in the island, given the discovery of burial sites and human skeletons in the area dating back to around 3000 years.
Have we got you intrigued enough? Let’s get down to some tips for visiting the Dambulla Cave:
- The climb to the caves could be tough if you’re not an overly active person, particularly in the midday heat of the dry cultural triangle zone.
- The ticket office is at the bottom of the hill, so make sure you get ticket to avoid going up and then coming all the way down for a ticket.
- Keep an eye out for the chattering monkeys around the cave complex. The poor creatures have been toyed with by us humans and now have learnt that stealing usually gets them food, so keep an eye on your stuff as well.
Good to know
Officially, the opening times of the Dambulla Caves are from 7am – 7pm, but you better get used to Sri Lankan timing as the ticket office might sometimes take a ‘break’ for lunch!
Where to stay
Dambulla is an often dismissed location in the cultural triangle in favour of the more famous Sigiriya. There are plenty of accommodation options around the cave complex but you could also try some excellent accommodation in Sigiriya and then combine the two activities for the best of both worlds. Have a look here to see the top activities you can do in Dambulla and Sigiriya.