Dambulla Cave Temple Tour
Granted World Heritage status in 1991, taking a Dambulla cave temple tour is a highlight of any Sri Lanka trip with it being the largest and best conserved cave temple in Sri Lanka and renowned worldwide.
Soaring over 500 feet above the neighbouring lands, the main complex is comprised of five separate caves containing magnificent and vividly coloured statues and paintings of Buddha and past kings.
Dambulla: A tour of Sri Lankan history
During your Dambulla tour you will learn that the cave complex itself is created by a large overhanding rock that spans the entire ledge, and it is this rock that helped shelter and hide King Valagamba for twelve years during the invasion of South Indians. The king reined during the first century BC but had to abandon his Kingdom during the invasion, seeking safety in what is now the Dambulla cave temple.
King Valagamba regained his Kingdom and as a mark of gratitude had the cave converted into Buddhist temples by constructing partitioning walls to create a number of separate templates under the overhanging rock. To protect the cave complex from heavy rain the king had a drip line carved into the rock to prevent water entering the temples.
For centuries after the cave temples were mainly inhabited by Buddhist monks and it wasn’t until the turn of the first millennia that King Vijayabahu decided to renovate the temples. Over the following centuries subsequent kings continued to preserve and further renovate the cave complex with additional statues, images and paintings added with gold plating decoration.
To take a tour of the Dambulla Cave Temple is to take a step back into Sri Lankan history.
Getting to the Dambulla cave temple
The Dambulla cave temple is located 92 miles east of Colombo, the commercial capital of the country, and is 45 miles north of Kandy. About 1 mile from Dambulla town, you can reach the cave complex via the A9 road which runs north/south.
We include a visit to the Dambulla Cave Temple in most of our Sri Lankan tours.