Dambulla is an ancient historical site set on a large granite outcrop. The caves at Dambulla are famous for their temples and have been repainted several times in the 11th, 12th and 18th centuries with secular and Buddhist scenes.
The golden temple of Dambulla is a World Heritage Site in Sri Lanka with more than 80 documented caves in the surrounding area. Major attractions are spread over 5 caves, which contain statues and paintings relating to the Lord Buddha and his life. There are a total of 153 Buddha statues, 3 statues of Sri Lankan kings and 4 statues of gods and goddesses. The latter include two statues of Hindu gods, the god Vishnu and the god Ganesh. The murals on the walls of the caves cover an area of 2,100 square metres and include depictions of the temptation by the demon Mara, and Buddha's first sermon.
People would have lived in these cave complexes before the arrival of Buddhism in Sri Lanka. This is supported by the findings of 2,700 year old burial sites in the area containing human skeletons!
Please note that the granite outcrop that houses the temples is over 150 metres above the surrounding countryside. This does mean there are amazing views, however there are a lot of steps and so we do recommend comfortable clothing and shoes for the climb. It is also a religious site and so visitors will need to remove their shoes before entering the temple area, and shoulders and knees should be covered. There are also lots of monkeys and so do take care of your belongings!
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