Dambulla is a small town located in the central province of Sri Lanka. The town is known for its UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Dambulla Cave Temple, which attracts thousands of tourists every year. Dambulla has a rich history and is home to some of the most beautiful landscapes and natural wonders in the country.
The history of Dambulla dates back to the 1st century BC, when King Valagamba fled from Anuradhapura to the cave complex in Dambulla to escape from his enemies. The king took refuge in the caves and later converted them into a temple. Over the centuries, the temple was expanded and renovated by various kings, including King Nissanka Malla and King Kirti Sri Rajasinha.
The Dambulla Cave Temple, also known as the Golden Temple of Dambulla, is the main attraction of the town. The temple is a complex of five caves, which house over 150 Buddha statues, paintings, and other religious artifacts. The caves are adorned with colorful frescoes and murals that depict scenes from the life of Buddha.
The largest cave is known as the Maharaja Vihara, which is 52 meters long and 23 meters wide. It is home to the largest Buddha statue in Sri Lanka, which is 14 meters long. The other four caves are named after the kings who contributed to their construction.
The temple is situated on a hill and offers stunning views of the surrounding landscape. Visitors can climb up the hill to reach the temple, and it is advisable to wear comfortable shoes as the climb can be steep.
The area also houses the largest rose quartz mountain range in South Asia, and the Iron wood forest, or Na Uyana Aranya.
The Ibbankatuwa prehistoric burial site, situated within 3 kilometers of the cave temple complexes, is a recent archaeological discovery of great historical significance. It offers evidence of the existence of indigenous civilizations that predates the arrival of Indian influence on the Island nation.
Apart from the Dambulla Cave Temple, there are several other attractions in and around the town.
Rangiri Dambulla International Stadium is famous for being built in just 167 days.
The Sigiriya Rock Fortress, located about 20 km from Dambulla, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is considered one of the most important archaeological sites in the world. The fortress was built by King Kasyapa in the 5th century AD and offers breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside.
The Minneriya National Park, located about 17 km from Dambulla, is home to a large population of elephants, as well as other wildlife such as leopards, deer, and birds. The park is famous for its annual elephant gathering, which takes place between July and September, when hundreds of elephants congregate around the Minneriya reservoir.
The Ritigala Forest Monastery, located about 40 km from Dambulla, is another important archaeological site. The monastery was built during the 1st century BC and was abandoned in the 10th century AD. The site is known for its well-preserved ruins, including a large stone platform and several other structures.
Dambulla is a beautiful town that offers a glimpse into Sri Lanka’s rich history and culture. The Dambulla Cave Temple, with its stunning frescoes and murals, is a must-visit for anyone traveling to Sri Lanka. The town’s proximity to other important attractions such as the Sigiriya Rock Fortress and the Minneriya National Park make it an ideal base for exploring the surrounding area. Overall, Dambulla is a hidden gem that is definitely worth a visit.
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