Dambulla

 

Dating from the 1st century B.C. this World Heritage Site has been a pilgrim’s site for almost 22 centuries. The cave monastery, with its five sanctuaries, is the largest and best preserved cave-temple complex in Sri Lanka. Of particular importance are the Buddhist mural paintings covering an area of 2,100m2 and 157 statues not seen anywhere else in the Island.

 

The first cave is filled with the 47-foot-long recumbent image of the meditating Buddha. In the second cave, there are 150 beautifully carved and preserved gilded statues of gods and Buddhas. The rock ceilings are painted in brilliantly preserved and intricately detailed patterns and images of the holy figures. Statues of the Hindu gods Vishnu and Saman are also present, reflecting the arrival of Hinduism in Sri Lanka during the 12th century.

 

The climb to the Dambulla rock is easy and apart from the rock caves, one can enjoy the beautiful scenery of the beginnings of the island’s mountainous region and vast stretches of green paddy fields.

 

Dambulla is a good starting point for excursions to Sigiriya, Polonnaruwa, Matale and Kandy.