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Dambulla Golden Temple

Dambulla Golden Temple Sri Lanka

  • This temple also called as the Dambulla’s Golden Temple is positioned in the middle part of Sri Lanka, 148 kilometres east of Colombo and 72 kilometres north of Kandy at an elevation of 1118 feet from the sea level. It’s the finest preserved and biggest Sri Lankan cave temple. There are over eighty known caves in the nearby area. Main places of attraction are spread over five caves that house paintings and statues. These statues and paintings are linked to Lord Buddha and his life. In total there are four statues of gods and goddesses, three statues of kings of Sri Lanka and one hundred fifty three Buddha statues. Statues of gods and goddesses include 2 sculptures of Hindu gods, the god Ganesha and the god Vishnu. The murals are spread over an area of 2,100 square metres. Depictions on the caves’ walls contain Buddha's 1st address and the temptation by the demon Mara.
  • In this area, burial places with human skeletons roughly 2700 years old near the Dambulla cave compounds suggest that before the arrival of Buddhism in Sri Lanka, prehistoric people of Sri Lanka would have resided in these cave compounds.


  • This temple compound dates back to the 1st century BC. It houses 5 caves below a huge overhanging rock, engraved with a drip line to retain the interiors dry. The building was decorated with gabled entrances and arched colonnades. Within the caves, the ceilings are decorated with sophisticated prototypes of religious pictures going along with the curves of the rock. There are images of bodhisattvas and the Lord Buddha as well as many goddesses and gods.
  • It is believed that King Valagambahu had transformed the caves into a place of worship in the 1st century BC. He exiled from Anuradhapura. He hunted for refuge here from South Indian usurpers for fifteen years. The King constructed a place of worship after regaining his capital to show his gratefulness for his safe place. Later a number of other kings added to it and by the eleventh century, the caves had turned into a main religious centre and still are. In 1190, king Nissanka Malla gold-plated the caves and added roughly seventy Buddha sculptures. The Kandyan Kings restored and painted the caves during the eighteenth century.

The five caves

  • The temple consists of 5 caves that have been transformed into shrine rooms. The caves, built during the Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa times are the most impressive temples in Sri Lanka. A panoramic scene of the nearby flat lands is offered by the gentle inclination of the Dambulla Rock which is on way to the caves. Due to dusk hundreds of swooping swallows flock to the entrance of cave. The biggest cave is 23 metres from the entrance to the back and is roughly 52 metres from east to west. At its highest point, this huge cave is 7 metres tall.

Cave of the Divine King

  • The 1st cave is called Cave of the Divine King. An explanation of the establishment of the monastery is documented in a first century Brahmi engraving over the entry to the 1st cave. During the course of its history, it has been repainted numerous times. The 14-meter sculpture of the Buddha, carved out of the rock dominates this cave. Buddha's pupil, Ananda is at his feet and Vishnu is at his head.

Cave of the Great Kings

  • There are 40 seated and 16 standing sculptures of Buddha, sculptures of gods Vishnu and Saman, sculptures of King Vattagamani Abhaya and King Nissanka Malla in the second largest cave which is called Cave of the Great Kings. Wooden figures of the Avalokiteshvaraor Natha and Bodhisattvas Maitreya accompany the Buddha sculpture carved out of the rock on the left side of the room. Also there is also a dagoba as well as a spring which drops its water, believed to have therapeutic powers, out of a fissure in the ceiling. Valuable pictures on the cave ceiling dating from the 18th century show happenings in Buddha's life. Additional pictures narrate important happenings from the history of the country.

Great New Monastery

  • The third cave, Great New Monastery got wall paintings and ceiling during the rule of King Kirti Sri Rajasinha. There is a sculpture of the king and fifty Buddha sculptures.


  • There are many Buddha sculptures of different sizes and heights in these shrine rooms. The biggest Buddha sculpture is 15 meters long.

Dambulla Golden Temple Sri Lanka