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Dambulla Cave Temple

Spectacular Buddha statues and colorful murals beautify this ancient complex of rock-cut temples set high above the plains of Dambulla.

Visit the Dambulla Cave Temple for a glimpse into Sinhalese Buddhist art and the opulent lifestyles of Sri Lankan kings. Established by King Valagambahu I in the 1st century B.C., Dambulla Cave Temple was used by royalty until the 18th century. This revered pilgrimage site sits on a hilltop with five cavernous temples decorated with portrayals of the life of Gautama Buddha. See over 150 statues and an impressive 23,000 square feet (2,100 square meters) of paintings.

Reach the temples via a hillside path, which offers sweeping views of the surrounding countryside and Sigiriya rock fortress. Dominating the first cave, the Temple of the Lord of the Gods, is a 46-foot (14-meter) long sleeping Buddha. Spot an image of the Hindu god Vishnu and Ananda, one of Buddha’s disciples. In this cave is a Brahmin inscription that honors the foundation of the temple.

The second cave, the Temple of the Great Kings, is the largest and most impressive. Note the statues of Valagambahu and Nissankamalla, who were two of the most celebrated Sinhalese kings. To the rear of the cave are 20 Buddha statues. Murals that portray scenes from Buddha’s life decorate the walls. Go to the third cave, the Great New Temple, to admire a collection of 50 Buddha images carved from solid rock.

While smaller in stature, the other two caves also house interesting artworks. Admire the many identical seated Buddhas in the Western Temple. The Second New Temple, which is actually the most westerly, features statues made from brick rather than rock.

Also within the complex is the Golden Temple, a garish building topped by a huge golden Buddha. Next to it is the Dambulla Museum. Step inside to see exhibits of cave paintings, cave artifacts and murals from the 1700s.

The complex is located less than 1.2 miles (2 kilometers) from Dambulla’s main bus terminal. Walk to most of the town’s hotels in a short time.

Dambulla Cave Temple is open daily and has an admission fee. Purchase tickets at the Gold Temple. Consider visiting the caves in reverse order to appreciate the increasing level of grandeur.


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Best Lodging Options Near Dambulla Cave Temple

See all 257 Properties near Dambulla Cave Temple
S A Village
S A Village

S A Village

S A Village Tourist Guest House, Vihara Junction, Dambulla, Central
     
    0.0 out of 5.0 Stars

    Situated in Dambulla, this guesthouse is 1.9 mi (3.1 km) from Popham's Arboretum and 2 mi (3.2 km) from Dambulla Cave Temple. Rangiri Dambulla International Stadium is 2.6 mi (4.1 km) away.

    New Green Hut Inn & Restaurant
    New Green Hut Inn & Restaurant

    New Green Hut Inn & Restaurant

    New Padeniya Rd, Dambulla, CP
       
      2.5 out of 5.0 Stars

      Situated in Dambulla, this guesthouse is within 3 mi (5 km) of Dambulla Cave Temple, Popham's Arboretum, and Rangiri Dambulla International Stadium. Ancient City of Sigiriya and Sigiriya Museum are also within 12 mi (20 km).

      Heritage Dambulla
      Heritage Dambulla

      Heritage Dambulla

      HERITAGE DAMBULLA, Dambulla, Central Province
         
        3.5 out of 5.0 Stars

        Located in the heart of Dambulla, this hotel is within 3 mi (5 km) of Dambulla Cave Temple, Popham's Arboretum, and Rangiri Dambulla International Stadium. Ancient City of Sigiriya and Sigiriya Museum are also within 12 mi (20 km).

        Lak view family resort $30
        Lak view family resort

        Lak view family resort

        Kandy - Jaffana Highway Road, Vihara Handiya, Dambulla
           
          3.5 out of 5.0 Stars

          Situated in Dambulla, this guesthouse is 0.4 mi (0.7 km) from Dambulla Cave Temple and 2.7 mi (4.4 km) from Rangiri Dambulla International Stadium. Ancient City of Sigiriya is 12.2 mi (19.6 km) away.

          Heritage Dambulla Resort $71
          Heritage Dambulla Resort

          Heritage Dambulla Resort

          Kandy Road, Dambulla, Central Province
             
            3.5 out of 5.0 Stars

            Situated near the boardwalk, this hotel is within 3 mi (5 km) of Dambulla Cave Temple, Rangiri Dambulla International Stadium, and Popham's Arboretum. Ancient City of Sigiriya and Sigiriya Museum are also within 12 mi (20 km).

            Tiny Holiday Resort $8
            Tiny Holiday Resort

            Tiny Holiday Resort

            Rathmalagahaela road, Vihara junction, Dambulla, Central
               
              3.0 out of 5.0 Stars

              Situated in Dambulla, this hotel is within 3 mi (5 km) of Dambulla Cave Temple, Popham's Arboretum, and Rangiri Dambulla International Stadium. Ancient City of Sigiriya and Sigiriya Museum are also within 12 mi (20 km).

              Sanda Sisila Villa $58
              Sanda Sisila Villa

              Sanda Sisila Villa

              Dambulla, Central Province
                 
                0.0 out of 5.0 Stars

                Situated in Dambulla, this villa is 1.4 mi (2.2 km) from Popham's Arboretum and 2.3 mi (3.7 km) from Dambulla Cave Temple. Rangiri Dambulla International Stadium is 2.6 mi (4.2 km) away.

                Sigiriya Kingdom Gate Hotel $29
                Sigiriya Kingdom Gate Hotel

                Sigiriya Kingdom Gate Hotel

                Rathmalgahaela Road, Vihara Junction, Dambulla, Central Province
                   
                  3.5 out of 5.0 Stars

                  Situated in Dambulla, this resort is 1.9 mi (3.1 km) from Dambulla Cave Temple and 2.9 mi (4.6 km) from Rangiri Dambulla International Stadium. Ancient City of Sigiriya and Pidurangala Rock are also within 16 mi (25 km).