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Dambulla Cave Temple in Sri Lanka

Prehistoric cave, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, reflects the centuries of human culture

Dambulla Cave Temple
Dambulla Cave Temple

The rock of Dambulla contains a Buddhist cave temple founded in the 1st century BC and still functioning today. It's part of the World Heritage list of UNESCO. The site features evidence of human art dating back to the prehistoric era. The temple has five caves and 153 Buddha statues, and about 1500 ancient paintings of Buddha cover ceilings and walls.

Caves were used as homes by prehistoric Sri Lankans. They also served as burial sites. After the arrival of Buddhism, many caves were turned into temples. Dambulla is one of the most impressive examples of this trend. The statues and art found there are well-persevered and can tell a lot about ancient people.

You will pass the ticket office at the bottom of the hill, so do buy the ticket right there in order to avoid going back when they check it at the top. Visitors have to take a short climb up the stairs for about 30 minutes to get to the temple with an impressive golden interior. The cave temple is open year round, and the best time to head there is early morning before it gets too hot and crowded.

Practical info

What transportation options are available to visitors who wish to visit Dambulla Cave Temple?

Visitors who wish to go to the Dambulla Cave Temple have a few options for transportation. They can take a bus from Colombo, rent a car, or fly to the nearby city of Sigiriya and take a taxi. The temple is located on a hilltop, providing spectacular views of the surrounding area. It is a popular destination for tourists and is easily accessible from many parts of Sri Lanka. Show more

What makes the five caves in the temple unique, and what is their significance?

The five caves in the Dambulla Cave Temple are known for their historical significance, beautiful artwork, and stunning statues. Each cave has its own layout and contains various Buddha statues and paintings. The temple houses over 150 statues, including four statues of kings and a depiction of the god Vishnu. The intricately painted walls and ceilings of the caves present many depictions of Buddha and ancient life in Sri Lanka, making them unmatched examples of the ancient Sri Lankan art form. Show more

What is the count and significance of the ancient Buddha paintings in the temple?

The Dambulla Cave Temple has over 1,500 paintings of Buddha, covering walls and ceilings. These paintings mainly depict Buddha's teachings and life, as well as significant events in Sri Lankan Buddhism history. Multiple painting styles - from simple lines and shapes to towering murals - exist in the temple. The paintings in the temple are some of the best examples of old Sri Lankan art, and they are preserved impeccably well, which is a tremendous source of interest and admiration for art lovers and tourists alike. Show more

What is the best time to visit Dambulla Cave temple, and what is the average time it takes to explore it?

The best time to visit the Dambulla Cave Temple is early in the morning, before it gets too crowded and warm. The temple is open year-round and gets very crowded during peak hours. Visitors usually spend two hours exploring the temple and the surrounding area, depending on their level of interest in the temple's history and artwork. However, the length of the stay may vary. Regardless, the temple is a historic and cultural symbol of Sri Lanka and an essential part of any trip to the country. Show more

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Last updated: by Eleonora Provozin