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Dambulla Cave Temple

While Dambulla Cave Temple hints of a solitary temple within a cave, in actuality it is a series of caves mothered by a cavern that is 170 feet long.  This cavern comprises of 5 cave temples that pay homage to the Lord Buddha and other deities.

Dambulla Cave Temple also known as the Golden Rock Temple is surrounded by the plains of Kurunegala on one side and the Sigiriya Rock and the mountain of Ritigala on the other.  The first temples of this site are said to be built by King Valagamba during the 1st century BC in gratitude for finding refuge and shelter in these caves as he fled the Cholas who were invading his kingdom at the time.  This rock that stands 1’118 feet above sea level also boasts of ancient murals and sculptures.

The first temple of the five known as ‘Devaraja lena’, houses a statue of the Lord Buddha and the Hindu God Vishnu.  The second cave temple known as the ‘Maharaja lena’ (meaning the cave of the kings), comprises of a series of statues about 60 feet in height that are both religious and secular.  ‘Aluth Maha Vihara’, the third cave temple was built by one of the last kings of the Kandyan Kingdom, King Kirthi Sri Rajasinghe.  The 4th and 5th temples, the ‘Pacchima Vihara’ and ‘Devani Aluth Vihara’, follows the footsteps of the preceding temples filled with stunning murals depicting the religious and cultural history of Sri Lanka.

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Dambulla Cave Temple is a testimony of the rich and thrilling history of the island.  The artistic murals and sculptures within this natural marvel are well worth the visit!

Title image by: Yohan Perera

Type

Culture and Heritage

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