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The well-preserved enormous cave temple complex in Sri Lanka, the Golden Temple of Dambulla is a majestic tourist attraction that dates back to the 1st century BCE. Also known as the Dambulla Cave Temple, it is in central Sri Lanka. The entire complex consists of more than 80 caves that have been discovered. The majority of the tourist attractions are covered in 5 caves. Along with a few statues of Srilankan Kings, Hindu Gods and Goddesses, the Golden Temple of Dambulla has over 150 Buddha statues. Many stunning murals are painted on the walls of the caves as well. The splendour and beauty of this place make it the perfect place for you to visit on your trip to Sri Lanka.

A Glimpse Into Dambulla Cave Temple History

Image Credit: Jolle~commonswiki for Wikimedia Commons

A sacred pilgrimage site for 2 millennia, the Golden Temple of Dambulla was inhabited by monks from the 1st century BCE. The temple has scriptures written on it in Brahmi Script, one of the inscriptions dating the period to Gamani Abhaya’s reign. It was interpreted that Gamani Abhaya referred to Vattagamani Abhaya. Vattagamani Abhaya’s story is deeply intertwined with the cave temples, and it is immensely fascinating. Tradition goes that on his home being invaded by South Indians, Vattagamani Abhaya fled from his kingdom, Anuradhapura, and sought sanctuary. The monks residing in caves like the Dambulla Cave Temple gave him refuge.

The Golden Temple of Dambulla is famous for its enormous mural paintings. Like the paintings in Ajanta, in India, these murals accommodate the texture and the natural incline of the cave walls to produce a 3-dimensional as well- and 2-dimensional effect. Painted in brilliant, bright colours, the cave temple has withstood the test of time. These paintings and sculptures also provide great sources for anthropologists, historians, and art history researchers. The paintings are done in the Kandyan style and depict scenes from both the life of Buddha and his past lives.

Must Read: Things To Do In Dambulla

Timings And Location

Reclining Buddha statue at the Dambulla Cave Temple

Image Credit: Cherubino for Wikimedia Commons

The Dambulla Cave Temple is located about 160 metres above the Dambulla town. Apart from the town itself, the temple is reachable From Sigiriya and Habarana. From Sigiriya, you can take a bus and get down at the bus stop by the Conservation and Research Centre and Painting Museum, where you can walk. The bus journey is about 25 minutes. From Habarana, you can take a direct bus to Dambulla. The bus journey is about 40 minutes. The final destination (bus stop) will be marked as Colombo Fort, and you have to get down here.

The Dambulla Cave Temple Timings are from 7 am to 7 pm daily. The ticket counters, however, close at 5 pm, so make sure you reach by at the latest 4:30 to avoid losing out. The entire visit takes around 1 and 1/2 to 2 hours including the travel to climb up the hill, which is 364 steps. If you want to study the caves, your visit can extend up to a full-day excursion.

Entrance Fee And Rules

Picturesque View from Dambulla Golden Temple, Sri Lanka

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The Dambulla Cave Temple has a few rules about dress code. You are requested to follow a modest dress code and make sure that your shoulders and knees are covered. This is aimed at everyone; you are expected to carry a spare shawl. In some cases, a sarong wrap or a shawl is made available at the entrance at a cost, though you can rent them for the duration of the visit at a cheaper rate. You should wear comfortable shoes to walk in for a long time.

Entry for the locals is free at the Golden Temple of Dambulla. The tourists have to pay a nominal fee of 2,000 LKR. It is recommended that you also take a guided tour of the place. The entry tickets can be purchased only by cash, not by other means. The ticket and the receipt are necessary to enter the place, so make sure you don’t lose track of either of them after payment. Prices for children are reduced, and children below the age of five can travel for free.

The Golden Temple of Dambulla allows visitors to click photographs; however, flash photography and flashlights are forbidden, as they harm the original paintings and artwork.

Suggested Read: Most Beautiful Places In Sri Lanka

Caves At The Golden Temple of Dambulla

Picturesque View of coves at Golden Temple, Sri Lanka

Image Credit: Cherubino for Wikimedia Commons

There are a total of 5 caves at the Golden Temple of Dambulla. These are the names that they are formally addressed by the following names, whose literal meanings are listed in the brackets beside their name:

Dambulla Cave No.1 – Devaraja Viharaya (the cave of the King of Gods)
Dambulla Cave No.2 – Maharaja Viharaya (the Great King Temple)
Dambulla Cave No.3 – Maha Alut Viharaya (the Great New Temple)
Dambulla Cave No.4 – Pacchima Viharaya (the Western Temple)
Dambulla Cave No.5 – Devana Alut Viharaya (the Second New Temple)

The size of the caves increases from Cave 5 to Cave 2 in reverse chronological order. The cave numbers, however, are ordered per their chronology. These caves display worship of multiple gods and goddesses, including Buddhist Hindu and local Srilankan deities. For example, the Dambulla Cave No.2 has statues of Natha, a Sri Lankan god; Vishnu and Saman, Hindu gods; and Buddha, a confluence of 3 religions in a single cave. Full of rich history, these breathtaking caves are a must-see on your journey to the Pearl of the Indian Ocean.

Further Read: Esala Perahera

Now that you have a list of things to keep in mind for your next vacation to Sri Lanka, make sure you plan your trip to Sri Lanka to these fabulous spots for the experience of a lifetime. Don’t miss out on these opportunities and book your tickets now!

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Frequently Asked Questions About Golden Temple Of Dambulla

How much time will be required to cover the Golden Temple Of Dambulla?

You can cover the temple in about 2-3 hours.

What to wear in Sri Lanka?

It’s recommended to wear light, airy cotton clothes that will protect you from the Sun.

What are some tourist attractions in Sri Lanka?

The Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, Little Adam's Peak View Point, and Pidurangala Rock are some of the great places to visit around the islands.

What is the Climate in Sri Lanka like?

Sri Lanka has a very hot climate throughout the year, with heavy rains. The best time to visit is in winter.

How many days are sufficient to cover Dambulla?

2 to 3 days are sufficient to cover the town.However, you can choose to explore the region as per your interests.



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