The 5 most popular things to do in Dambulla with kids
Dambulla is a historic town situated in the Central Province and in the heart of the Cultural Triangle. Travelling with kids requires copious amounts of research on interesting places to visit, as keeping the little ones entertained is crucial.
The Cultural Triangle refers to the area where most of Sri Lanka’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites are located, and where great kingdoms once ruled. When travelling to Dambulla with your family, here are 5 places and things you can do that everyone can enjoy.
Dambulla Cave Temple
The Rangiri Dambulla Cave Temple complex is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The temple has a long history dating back to the 1st century BC when the reigning monarch, King Walagamba, drove out the Dravidian invaders of India. The temple complex consists of five caves which hold numerous statues and cave paintings of the Buddha. It was also a place to showcase the kings’ contributions to the temple, evident with a few shrines dedicated to certain kings. The temple sits atop a large stone rock which seemingly blends into each other and makes for quite a picture! This is a family-friendly activity that is suitable for children of all ages as young kids will especially like the walk up to the temple!
Sigiriya is without a doubt the most iconic ancient structure in Sri Lanka. Built in the 5th century by King Kashyapa, one of Sri Lanka’s most infamous kings, Kashyapa had a rather violent rise to power, where he committed patricide and usurped his half brother who was the rightful heir in order to gain control of the throne.
Kashyapa built one of the most beautiful palaces in the world, now known as the Sigiriya Rock Fortress. The architectural advancements of his palace and kingdom were known to be far ahead of its time. The surroundings comprise of three different planned water gardens, terrace gardens, palatial pools, fountains and frescoes. Kids will enjoy climbing up this ancient fortress as the views from the summit will surely leave them stunned!
Minneriya National Park
This is Sri Lanka’s premier sight to see elephants. Any sort of encounter with an elephant would be exciting but watching elephants in Minneriya is a different experience altogether. It is within this park that the largest gathering of Asian elephants takes place and it is truly a sight to behold. This gathering takes place during the dry season from June/July and lasts till early September. Due to the lack of rain during these months, elephants in herds of 200-500 gather in open plains in search of water, making it the world’s largest gathering of wild elephants in one area. It is an indescribable feeling to only be a few feet away from these magnificent creatures and is guaranteed to please even the crankiest child!
Not far from Sigiriya, you will find the town of Habarana which is best known for its lake. The lake is surrounded by lush greenery all around its banks, and the water is covered by different green reeds and lotuses. You can either go on a leisurely walk around the lake or embark on a boat ride instead. The boat ride is highly recommended; Habarana Lake is a wonderful place to spot various wildlife but it is a bird watcher’s paradise, so you and your family will be able to enjoy everything the lake has to offer while gently cruising along its waters.
Pidurangala is Sigiriya’s neighbour! Before Kashyapa made Sigiriya his palace, the rock and its surrounding jungles were inhabited by local monks. Once he came into power, he moved them to the neighboring Pidurangala and built them a temple there as an offering. Although this may not be the best activity for very young children as the trail goes through somewhat of a jungle, it is a far more exciting hike than Sigiriya- especially if your kids are older than 13 years. On your hike you will pass large rock boulders and remnants of the original temple till you finally reach the top. The view from Pidurangala is spectacular; the hill towers above the vibrant green jungles and from here you get a view of Sigiriya looming over its surroundings making it even better!
Need more ideas of what you should do with your kids in Sri Lanka – read our bucket list!