A guide to visiting Dambulla Cave Temple

A guide to visiting Dambulla Cave Temple

If you are looking for a unique and memorable experience in Sri Lanka, you should not miss visiting Dambulla Cave Temple, the most impressive cave temple in Asia. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is also known as the Golden Temple of Dambulla, because of its golden roof that shines in the sun.

Dambulla Cave Temple is located in the central province of Sri Lanka, about 160 km from Colombo. It is situated on a rocky hill, overlooking the plains and the Sigiriya rock fortress. The temple complex consists of five caves, each with its own history and significance.


The Dambulla Cave Temple was first built in the 1st century BC and has been expanded and renovated over the centuries. The temple is believed to have been a refuge for Buddhist monks during times of persecution. In the 16th century, the temple was renovated by King Wimaladharmasuriya I, who added a number of new statues and murals.

The caves date back to the 1st century BC when King Valagamba took refuge here after being driven out of his kingdom by invaders. He later returned to power and built the first cave temple as a gratitude to the monks who sheltered him. Since then, the caves have been expanded and decorated by various kings and rulers over the centuries.


The Dambulla Cave Temple is carved into a large rock face that rises up to 160 feet (50 meters) above the ground. The five caves are arranged in a series of ascending levels and are connected by a series of staircases. The caves are decorated with statues, murals, and other artwork.


The Dambulla Cave Temple is home to over 1,500 statues of Buddha, as well as murals depicting scenes from the Buddha’s life. The statues are made of a variety of materials, including stone, wood, and metal. The murals are painted on the walls of the caves and depict scenes from the Buddha’s life, as well as stories from Hindu mythology.

The caves contain over 150 Buddha statues, some of them over 14 meters long. They also feature paintings and frescoes that depict the life of Buddha and his previous incarnations. The caves are considered to be among the finest examples of ancient Buddhist art in the world.

Once you reach the caves, you can explore them at your own pace. Each cave has a different name and theme, such as the Cave of the Divine King, the Cave of the Great Kings, the Great New Monastery, the Western Temple, and the Second New Temple. You will be amazed by the variety and beauty of the statues and paintings in each cave.

You can also visit the Golden Temple Museum at the base of the hill, which displays artifacts and information about the history and culture of Dambulla Cave Temple. You can also see a large golden Buddha statue and a stupa outside the museum.

Dambulla Cave Temple is open daily from 7 am to 7 pm. The best time to visit is in the morning or evening when it is cooler and less crowded. You can spend about two hours exploring the caves and enjoying the scenery.

Dambulla Cave Temple is a must-see attraction for anyone who loves history, culture, and art. It is a place where you can witness the rich heritage and spirituality of Sri Lanka. It is also a place where you can marvel at the craftsmanship and creativity of ancient artists. It is a place that will leave you speechless and inspired.

Things to do at Dambulla Cave Temple

There are a number of things to do at Dambulla Cave Temple, including:

  • Visit the caves: The main attraction of Dambulla Cave Temple is the five caves, which are home to over 1,500 statues of Buddha, as well as murals depicting scenes from the Buddha’s life.
  • Take a guided tour: There are a number of guided tours available at the Temple, which can help you learn more about the history and significance of the temple.
  • Offer alms to the monks: It is customary to offer alms to the monks at the Temple. You can do this by purchasing food from a local vendor and then offering it to the monks who are gathered in the temple courtyard.
  • Meditate: The Temple is a peaceful place to meditate. You can find a quiet spot in the temple grounds and sit or lie down to meditate.
  • Take in the views: From the top of the Dambulla Cave Temple, you can enjoy stunning views of the surrounding countryside.

Where to stay near Dambulla Cave Temple

There are a number of hotels and guesthouses located near Temple. These hotels offer a variety of accommodation options, including budget-friendly options and luxury hotels.

Tips for visiting Dambulla Cave Temple

Here are a few tips for visiting Dambulla Cave Temple:

  • Dress modestly: When visiting Temple, it is important to dress modestly. This means covering your shoulders and knees.
  • Remove your shoes: When entering the caves, you will be required to remove your shoes.
  • Be respectful: Temple is a sacred place, so it is important to be respectful of the monks and other visitors.
  • Take your time: There is a lot to see at Temple, so take your time and enjoy your visit.