Rock cave temples of Dambulla
Just 72 km from Kandy lies the city of Dambulla. Dambulla is the centre of vegetable distribution in Sri Lanka. However for foreigners it is mostly knows as the city with the famous rock cave temples. The city houses 5 temples (in one complex) all filled with frescoes and statues of the Buddha.
Attractions in Dambulla
Dambulla offers the cave temples (5) and the golden temple. You wouldn’t need much time because the cave temples are actually next to each other. You can reach them easily from the Dambulla bus stop by tuk tuk for 200 LKR. The Golden temple is also very close. It takes a climb of 10 minutes to get to the caves. Once you are a the top you need to cover yourself (your shoulders and legs must be covered) and take your shoes off. There is a place net to the entrance of the caves where you can give your shoes for 25 LKR. The entrance fee of the rock cave temples is 1.500 LKR (9.76 USD) and the Golden temple is free of charge.
The first cave (Devaraja Viharaya)
The first cave contains a massive reclining Buddha statue of 15m long. What makes this statue amazing is, that it is made from one piece of rock. The cave contains also other smaller statues of Buddha and one of the Hindu god Vishnu.
Second cave (Maharaja Viharaya)
This is the biggest cave. It is 52m x 23m and the highest point is 7m. This cave contains statues of 2 kings and +/- 50 other statues. Also this cave has a large reclining Buddha statue. Next to the statues the temple is decorated with murals. There is a vessel which collects the dripping water from the ceiling of the temple. It is believed that this collected water is holy. It is used for sacred rituals.
Third, fourth and fifth cave
The other caves are also filled with Buddha statues. These are smaller caves. These caves are also nice to see, however they are not like the first two. The fifth one was even used as a storehouse but now also contains statues and frescos.
The Golden temple
This temple is known for the huge golden Buddha statue. This is a modern temple, as it only dates back to the year 2000. The temple is created by Japanese donations. To be honest, we don’t think there is much to it. However it is close to the rock cave temples, therefor you might as well see it.
How to get to Dambulla from Colombo?
There is no train station in Dambulla. You can only visit the city by bus. During the day there are a lot of busses which go from Colombo to Dambulla. We wanted to combine Sigiriya and Dambulla in one day and therefor chose to take the night bus from Colombo Fort to Dambulla at 1.30 am. The bus drivers really drive like crazy. They are actually racing not driving. You have to get used to it before you feel comfortable with the speed. Next to this even tough it’s a night bus, there is still very loud music playing, so getting some sleep might be hard. However the good side of traveling at night is that there is no traffic. The bus took 3,5 hours (during the day probably round 4/5 hours.
How much money will you spend in Dambulla?
Costs you probably will make during your trip to Dambulla:
Rock cave temples: 1500 LKR (9.76 USD)
Water (1lt.): Around 60 LKR
Tuk tuk from Dambulla bus stop to the rock cave temples: around 200 LKR
Bus: Colombo to Dambulla 290 LKR one way normal bus without A/C
(with A/C bus 390 LKR one way)
Food: The food is cheaper compared with other cities. On average round 100 LKR per person