Dambulla - The Rock Temple
The Rock Remple at Dambulla was built in the 1st century BC by King Valagambahu. He spent 14 years of exile and the caves at Dambula were his refuge. When he returned to the throne he began the transformation of the caves into the beautiful rock temple that can still be seen today
The Temple consists of 5 caves containing wonderful statues, paintings and frescos. These depict Buddha and scenes from the life of Buddha, various Kings, including Valagamba and King Nissanka Malla (who also added improvments to the temple) and other historical figures as well as Vishnu and other Hindu dieties. Apparantly some of the King's wives were originally from India and the Hindu statues were placed in the caves thus allowing the wives to worship.
Highlights include the large reclining Buddha carved out of solid rock in Cave 1 and the variety of statues (about 150), frescoes and paintings in Cave 2. This cave contains many pictures illustrating scenes for the Buddha's life. The colours and the detail of both the statues and paintings are astounding, as they are in all the caves. In the corner of Cave 2 is the Holy Pot which is never empty. Drips of water are collected in the pot and used in holy rituals.
The climp up to the temple is pretty tiring. There are steps but these can be quite steep. Take plenty of water.
The views from the terrace over the surrounding countryside and towards Sigirya are fantastic. Please note, photography is not allowed inside the caves but is allowed on the exterior of the temple. You will be required to take off your shoes and hat before entering the temple and make sure you are wearing a long skirt or trousers so that your legs are covered.