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.