Dambulla Travel Guide

  • Painted Feet on Reclinging Buddha
    Painted Feet on Reclinging Buddha
    by DSwede
  • Cave Temple's Wall
    Cave Temple's Wall
    by DSwede
  • From The Side
    From The Side
    by anilpradhanshillong

Dambulla Highlights

  • Pro
    jennifermueller profile photo

    jennifermueller says…

     One of the largest, oldest cave temples in Sri Lanka. 

  • Con
    jennifermueller profile photo

    jennifermueller says…

     Not a lot else in town, images are typical of cave buddha images throught Sri Lanka. 

  • In a nutshell
    trisanna profile photo

    trisanna says…

     interesting and historic place with goats, who walk on the trail 

Dambulla Things to Do

  • At The Top

    These cave temples are the best preserved and biggest in Sri Lanka. The rock rises to a height of 160 m (520 ft.) from the surrounding plains and houses more than 80 documented caves along its 2000 feet length. However, the most important are 5 caves, which contain priceless statues and paintings relating to the life and times of Buddha. I counted...

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  • Cave 4

    Cave 4 houses 10 images of the Buddha and two dagobas. There is also a huge bo-tree outside the vihara.

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  • Cave 2 & 3

    Cave 2 is a larger one and joined with Cave 3, which contains over 55 statues of the Buddha, an image of the future Buddha (Maitreya Buddha) and a dagoba in the middle of the shrine.

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  • Cave - 1

    Cave 1 contains a huge statue of the Buddha in a recumbent posture on a pillow with the right hand.

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  • Golden Temple

    The Golden Temple is the monastery for the cave dwelling monks and is situated east of the rock temple. Above the temple is a 100 feet high Golden Buddha Statue, this was unveiled in 2001.

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  • Dambulla cave

    The Raja Maha Vihara at the village of Dambulla is the most impressive. It consists of a series of five caverns. The temple is on the summit of a huge slope rock face that rises more than 350 feet above the village. The most interesting is the largest cave, as ceiling of this cavern is fully illustrated with paintings. Among the cave’s numerous...

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  • MONKEY WATCHING

    Just outside the entrance to Dambulla Caves is a large pond and a few buildings. The monkeys are everywhere and are very used to tourists. It is best to not get to close, but they are happy to pose for photos!

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  • The cave temples

    The cave temples open daily from 07:30-19:00 (admnission fee) are located 2 kms south of Dambulla town centre. Thre is steep 10 minutes climb up from the street level to the caves.These are man-made granite outcrops which rise 160m above ground offering splendid views across the surrounding countryside.It is believed that these caves were inhabited...

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  • Enjoy the scenery

    Don't keep yourself occupied only with the caves' interior. Sit down a while before departure and enjoy the majestic landscape of the plains extending as far as Sigiriya. I was lucky enough to witness a gigantic lizard slopping down from the rocks!!

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  • Golden Temple

    Before climbing up the stairs to the caves, stands the undoubtly kitsch Golden Temple. This new building is topped by a huge (around 30meters high) seated golden Buddha. Though it claims it is the largest Buddha statue in the world, this is not true. The buidling houses the Golden Temple Buddhist museum in a building below, entered through the...

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  • Cave IV (Pachima Viharaya)

    Along with Buddha images, in the center of the room there is a dagoba (Buddhist shrine that looks like small stupa). When the dagoba was contructed one of Sri Lanka's kings supposedly placed jewels deep inside the structure.

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  • Cave II ( Maharaja Viharaya)

    This is one of the nicest temple caves. This is the Temple of the Great King-since there are two statues of past kings. In the middle of the cave, there is a locked area that contains an urn that collects water that drips down from the top of the cave. The water is used during droughts and sacred rituals.

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  • Cave I (Devaraja Viharaya)

    This is the smallest of the five caves. This cave is the Temple of the King of the Gods. It contains a large reclinning Buddha. There are other Buddhas and Ananda(Buddha's loyal disciple) inside the cave. This is the darkest cave, so it may be difficult to take good photographs. Flash is not allowed.

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  • The Buddhist Museum

    There is a Buddhist museum, but very little is written in English. There is a Buddhist bookshop. Also, an internet cafe. It's open from 7.30- 11.30 pm. Cost is around 500 rps. (includes entry to temple caves). Nearby there is a golden chedi.

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  • the fifth cave

    The fifth cave is the Devana Alut Viharaya: it's the newst of the five and the least impressive. It's very tiny and it once used to house some wharehouses. Both the large reclining buddha and the other statues are not very impressive. The frescoes are pretty but not very colourful nor spectacular. Maybe one should visit this cave first and then...

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  • the fourth cave

    The fouth cave is one of the newest caves. It's called Pachima Viharaya and it's not regarded as anything spectacular but.... it turned out to be my favourite of all five caves. Together with the usual arrays of smaller and larger buddhas and hindu statues, there is a large recling buddha which is absolutely charming: look at its face - it's an...

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  • the third cave

    The third cave, Maha Alut Vihara, is called the "Great New Monastery". The painting and frescos are very well preserved, especially because they are of more recent origin: they were painted during the reign of King Kirti Sri Rajasinha (1747-1782). There's also, besides the usual large Buddha and smaller Buddhas and Visnus, the statue of the king....

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  • the second cave

    The second cave is Maharajalena, the "Cave of the Great Kings." it's th largest of the five caves and it contains 56 statues of buddha, as well as other statues of the gods Saman and Visnu. Other statues are those of King Vattagamani, who visited the monastery in the first century B.C., and King Nissanka Malla who, in the 12th century, commissioned...

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Dambulla Hotels

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Dambulla Restaurants

  • a spicy buffet mel

    It's a nice hotel and restaurant set in a park, not far from the rock temples. I think it's mainly geared for tour buses, only we did not see any when we were there. The usual buffet food - quite uninspiring, with no particular qualities or demerits. particularly good was some grilled tank fish - and really horrible the buffalo curd

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  • Stop for Short Eats

    We picked up some very nice wade and roti at a shop in town to eat on the road. The shop keeper seems suprised that we wanted short eats rather than packaged cookies and biscuts. I don't know if that's what the tourists usually want in local stores since that's what you can get at home but I don't think you've been to Sri Lanka if you haven't had...

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  • Dambulla Hotels

    3 Hotels in Dambulla

    1251 Reviews and Opinions

Dambulla Transportation

  • freya_heaven's Profile Photo
    Our Driver, Dambulla

    by freya_heaven Updated Apr 5, 2004

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    We hired a car & driver for a few days, who sorted out all our accommodation & entrances. We gave a list of the places we wanted to visit. He wittled that list down to a realistic size & off we went.

    I would definately recommend doing this rather than hiring a car. the driving is crazy here.

    The main Columbo to Galle road was built to be a normal 2 way road. It is not unusual to see at least 4 lanes of traffic on it!.

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Dambulla Local Customs

  • Photographing the caves and others...

    Making photos inside the caves is now possible. But remember you're not allowed to take photos of you sitting next to a Buddha statue, or having your back to him. This is the reason photography was banned for some time as a female tourist had herself photographed on the lap of a Buddha statue (this is scandalous for Buddhists)Remember shoes have to...

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  • prices

    In Dambulla there are officially three things to see: the Golden Temple, the Buddhist museum and the Rock Temples. All three erquire separate tickets, but only one is really worth your time and money: the rock temples. The price is 500 rupess (source: november 2004) and the tickets are to be bought opposite thhe museum, as there is no opportunity...

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Dambulla Warnings and Dangers

  • the rock temples: not exactly by the...

    The rock temples are not exactly located by the parking lot: you'll still have to walk uphill 20/30 minutes - over a path or some stairs. it's neither long nor difficult but... you'll be sweating a lot. So be warned: wear appropriate shoes and bring plenty of water or you'll visit will turn into a miserable time.

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  • Enjoy the monkeys but be alert.

    There are a lot of monkeys near the Dambulla Cave Temples. Be cautious. Wild animals are always unpredicable no matter how friendly, cute or "just like people" they might seem. We didn't actually see anyone feeding these monkeys but it probably happens because one monkey thought my husband's bag belonged to him and tried to take it.No matter how...

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  • Bring socks to protect your feet from...

    By afternoon, the stone in front of the Dambulla Cave Temples is very hot. As at most Sri Lanka cultural and religious sites, shoes, hats and uncovered legs or shoulders are inappropiate and not allowed.It is possible to walk along the sheltered path right next to the cave entrance but if you want to wander out onto the "plaza" to see the view, you...

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Dambulla Tourist Traps

  • jennifermueller's Profile Photo
    Statue at Dambulla Cave Temple, Sri Lanka

    by jennifermueller Updated Feb 1, 2004

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    There are many vendors on the climb up to the cave temples. A simple, "no thank you" will suffice unless you've shown interest in what they are selling and then they are pretty persistent.

    Sometimes vendors at tourists sites are selling handicrafts at ridiculous prices but sometimes not. Some prices at sites were right in line with what the stores in towns charged for similar items. Other times, there was a serious markup - cultural triangle fund publications, for example. Even after bargaining, you may pay a bit for the convenience of buying off the side of the mountain.

    Once you've looked at something, it may take lots of "no, really, I'm not interested"s to shake them. Keep in mind that they are trying to make a living. There are no vendors inside the temples.

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Dambulla Favorites

  • INSIDE THE CAVES

    The Golden Temple of Dambulla is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. When you visit you will find out that it is a mind-blowing experience. As you walk up the mountain past the wild monkeys, you start to feel like you are on sacred ground. Just outside the caves are ‘modern’ (built in 1938) white buildings and a large green coloured pond just outside....

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  • the rock temples

    Officially Dambulla is a part of the Cultural Triangle declared by UNESCO - but personally Dambulla is a unique place - possibly the highlight of my trip. I found unexpected charm, there: 5 wonderful temples carved into rock and painted with ancient frescos and filled with buddha and hindu statues.They were founded in the 1 century BC by King...

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  • Buddha

    In this cave temple are hundreds of Buddha statues and his paintings on the wall. They are amazingly well preserved. Vivid colors and gentle smiles of Buddha. He is everywhere you look...

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Explore Deeper into Dambulla
the first cave
Things to Do
Cave Temple
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Golden Temple
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Las Vegas Dambulla!
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Dambulla Views
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Rock Temple
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Dambulla Locals
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Dambulla Steps
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Passageways
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Reclining Buddha
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Monkeys
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Prayer Bell
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Maha-Raja_Viharaya or the Temple of the great King
Things to Do
Golden Cave Temple
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Map of Dambulla

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