Dambulla Cave Temple
The Dambulla Cave Temple, also known as the Golden Temple, is a World Heritage Site located in the town Dambulla in the Matale district. About 17km away from Sigiriya, the Dambulla Cave Temple holds much cultural and historical significance to Sri Lankans.
The temple is one of the best-preserved cave temples of many in Sri Lanka, and so, is certainly the place to go for a clear glimpse at Sri Lanka’s ancient Buddhist history. The temple is located about 160m off the ground, and its walls cover an astonishing 23,000 sq.ft of area.
To date, nearly 80 caves have been discovered in and around its boundaries, but five in particular are quite significant. These five caves are rather large and serve as the temple’s main pathways, all depicting the temple’s most major attraction: the retelling of the story of Gautama Buddha’s life in various forms, including intricate paintings on the cave walls and the ceilings. The temple contains 153 Buddha statues, as well as three statues of Sri Lankan kings, and four of various deities.
Though there is some debate regardings this, it’s widely believed that the person responsible for the construction of this elaborate cave temple is King Valagamba, sometime around 1st century BC, meaning the temple had been utilised as a monastery since before the Christian era!
For the history buffs and culture enthusiasts, the Dambulla Cave Temple is a must-visit site, and is open all week from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.