Statues in a cave temple of Dambulla

Dambulla – Sri Lanka’s Holy City With Many Temples

This post was last updated on April 9th, 2020 at 01:34 pm


The Cave Temple in Dambulla is one of the best-known highlights in Sri Lanka. Although it is somewhat commercial, it is an important holy place that should not be missed during your trip. The cave temple, incidentally, lies with Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, and Sigiriya in the cultural triangle of Sri Lanka.

 

Dambulla; a City With Beautiful Temples

Dambulla is a city with 67,000 inhabitants and is best-known for the Cave Temple that is on the World Heritage List of UNESCO. There’s not just one cave in Dambulla but several. In total, you will find more than 80 caves here, of which the Golden Temple, with its five caves, is the most important.

 

It is the best-preserved cave temple complex in Sri Lanka. The special thing about these caves is that the paintings are of Buddha as well as the Hindu gods Vishnu and Ganesh.

 

Entrance to the Golden Temple with an elephant beside it
The Golden Temple in Dambulla

 

Climb to the Temples

You can find the temples at 12 kilometers (about 7.5 miles) from Sigiriya. The special caves were built in the first century AD. It was King Valagambahu who lived in the caves of Dambulla during his 14-year exile.

 

To pass the time, he laid out the special cave temple. The temple was fortunately preserved and in 1991 it was placed on the World Heritage List of UNESCO.

 

It is quite a climb to get there. The rocks are at a height of 160 meters. This makes the view very spectacular. You have a total of five sacred rocks at a height of around 125 meters (410 feet). The first cave houses a 15 meter long Buddha.

 

The second cave is the most impressive one. Here you will find 150 life-sized statues of gods, including those of the Hindu gods such as Vishnu and Ganesha. These are placed here by various kings. All temples are decorated with important drawings of the history of the Sinhalese.

 

View of one of the big rocks near Sigiriya
View of one of the big rocks near Sigiriya, impressive!

 

TIP – Take a look at our Sri Lanka Travel Information page. Here, you will find a lot of extra information about this beautiful country.

 

Best Areas to Stay At

Most people spend the night in Dambulla. You can easily reach the rock from here with a day tour. However, you can also spend the night closer to the temples in Sigiriya Village itself. There is enough accommodation in both cities.

 

Sigiriya Village

It is best to stay in Sigiriya Village if you want to make the most of your day.

 

When you are already in Sigiriya you have all day to view the famous rock or the famous temples.

 

TIP – View all types of accommodations in Sigiriya here.

 

Dambulla

You can also choose to stay in the city of Dambulla. From here it is possible to do day tours to the various attractions in the area.

 

Dambulla is often skipped by travelers because it is not really a nice city.

 

We recommend that you continue to Sigiriya and book accommodation here.

 

TIP – View all types of accommodations in Dambulla here.

 

Best Time to Visit Dambulla

The best time to visit Dambulla is from February to September. During these months there’s the least rain in the region. However, keep in mind that it will be very hot and dry.

 

You could easily travel in Dambulla in the mid and low season. There’s a slightly higher chance of rain, but the temperature is slightly more pleasant.

 

The best time to visit Dambulla differs from other parts of Sri Lanka because the country has different rainy seasons. You can find more information about the best time to visit per region here.

 

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