Dambulla Cave Temples: Everything You Need To Know

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Central Sri Lanka is home to the Dambulla Cave Temples, commonly referred to as the Golden Temple of Dambulla. Considering that the temples sit behind an overhanging rock, it is really a hidden gem.

The earliest temples in Sri Lanka are the Dambulla Cave Temples, which are the greatest set of temples and date back to the first century B.C. UNESCO has designated the Dambulla Cave Temples as a world heritage site of outstanding universal significance.

Out of the 80 known cavesin the area, only five are accessible to tourists. However, these five caves more than make up for it with an abundance of Buddha sculptures and artwork.

The majority of the temples are Buddhist, and numerous paintings and murals portray the Buddha and his life. Continue reading to learn more about the Dambulla Cave Temples, a hidden gem.

What exists in these caves?

These caves are renowned for their elaborate paintings and murals that illustrate the life and teachings of the Buddha, in addition to texts. The 23,000 square feet of these cavesare dedicated to honouring King Valagamba, King Nissankamalla, and Ananda, a devout follower of Buddha.

Only five of the 80 known cavesare accessible to tourists. Two of these five caves are extensions of existing caves and are quite recent. The three others are the largest and most impressive in the group. The temple is currently made up of these five caves that were transformed into shrine chambers. It is all the more remarkable because they were constructed in the first century BC on the foot of a 150-meter-tall cliff.

History of Dambulla Cave Temples

These caves have an interesting past and a fascinating tale to tell, having been acknowledged by UNESCO as a World Heritage site. In the third century BC, Buddhist monks first settled in these mountains. These caves were later created by these monks. On the walls and ceiling, they painted intricate designs. To keep the cavesdry, they also constructed a drip line. Even before they were taken over by King Valagamba, these caves were regarded as a significant monastery. This was where the king had first sought sanctuary. After regaining his capital, he turned these cavesinto a shrine as a thank you. Following this, the kingdom’s heirs began enhancing the caveswith additional artwork and statues. 


The central part of Sri Lanka, near Sigiriya, is home to the Dambulla Caves. It is around 72 kilometres north of Kandy and 148 km east of Colombo. The temple is located on a rock that is around 160 metres above sea level. The Dambulla rock provides access to these temples. This rock’s slope provides a nice perspective of the surrounding flatlands. From here, one can also see the Sigiriya Fort. The largest cave, dubbed the Great King Cave, is around 52 metres wide, 23 metres deep, and 7 metres high. The artworks and statues securely maintain their colour and shape because of the low light and almost no hazardous elements.


The ceiling and all of the cave’s interiors are covered in murals and paintings. They all portray the Buddha, his teachings, and his life.

One of the caveshad a huge metal bowl within that was intended to catch the rainwater that was trickling out. However, despite local droughts throughout the years, the bowl has never dried up.

What time of year is ideal to go there?

Being a tropical island, Sri Lanka experiences year-round consistency. Generally speaking, the Dambulla Cave temple site is open from 7 AM to 7 PM. In order to escape the afternoon sun, most tourists choose to visit this location in the morning. However, if you go in the afternoon, you may witness a breathtaking sunset across the plains from the mountains.

How to go to the caves

Sigiriya, Sri Lanka, is around 20 km away from the Dambulla Caves. You have two options for getting from Sigiriya to your destination. There are plenty of taxis to choose from, and they are unquestionably the best option for a smooth and comfortable trip. However, if you’d rather save money, you may travel from Sigiriya to the Dambulla bus stop. The bus stop is ten minutes away from the caves.

Dambulla Cave Temples

Entry Cost

Retailing for LKR 1500 (Sri Lankan Rupee), or around 8.5 USD for people. Children under five enter free of charge, while those between the ages of five and twelve can purchase tickets at half price.

Something to remember before you go

  • At the foot of the slope, tickets for the caves are sold. You will need to make the entire trip back down the hill to purchase them, so don’t forget to get one. Please remember this unless you’re in the mood for an intense aerobic exercise.
  • There are around three hundred steps to ascend. Thus, if you are going somewhere in the afternoon, bring a bottle of water.
  • If you are travelling in the morning, you might want to pack extra food because it can take you three to four hours to get out again.
  • Having said that, monkeys are known to hang around in the caves. Keeping your own interests in mind, avoid luring them in with food or anything like. Due to their mischievous nature, they can wind up stealing your accessories or loose clothing.
  • As previously said, the temple holds great significance within the Buddhist community. Make sure your attire is acceptable. It’s improper for you to show off your shoulders or wear shorts. If necessary, a body wrap can also be purchased at the door.

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