Dambulla Cave Temple

Attractions, Religious buildings and sites Dambulla

Climb up to this cave sanctuary to see magnificent views and intricate murals.

This UNESCO heritage monastery is the country’s largest cave temple complex, dating from 1st Century BC. It takes a good while to reach the site, which is built into a cave towering 150m over the countryside, but it’s worth the walk. 
It is believed the temples’ main structure was built on the behest of King Valagambahu. The king had taken sanctuary in the natural overhang of the caves when South Indian usurpers came to Sri Lanka. After the invaders left he paid dedication to the caves through the construction of walled temples. 
Intricate and vibrant murals have been painted and repainted over successive generations, and highlighting the forms of 157 statues of sleeping Buddhas and ancient kings. The view from the caves is magnificent, punctuated by the sight of monkeys taking advantage of the abundance of fruit left in devotion.  Look to the ceilings of the middle caves to see striking paintings depicting the Buddha’s life, with demons, damsels and even some archaic weaponry. 


Venue name: Dambulla Cave Temple
Address: Dambulla Rajamaha Viharaya
Kandy-Jaffna Hwy
Opening hours: Daily 7.15am-4.15pm
Price: Locals free; non Sri Lankans Rs1100.
Static map showing venue location