Sri Lanka’s Largest Rock Cave Temple built on a 600 feet high Rock. Located at an elevation of 1118 feet from the sea level rises a massive rock from the surrounding plains of Dambulla of 600 feet high and over 2000 feet in length.
Cave temples are interesting places and hold within them tales and occurrences from bygone eras. Coming towards the Southern part of the town of Dambulla and visitors can lay eyes on the Golden Rock Temple of Dambulla or the Dambulu Gala as it is known amongst the locals. Travellers and enthusiasts will find this location built atop a 600 foot high rock. Bearing itself as a home for a collection of some 160 statues and painted depictions of Lord Buddha, the cave art found here is no doubt a feast for the eyes. Comprised of five separate caves, they are the Devaraja Lena Viharaya, Maharaja Viharaya, Maha Aluth Viharaya, Pachima Viharaya and the Devana Aluth Viharaya.
Devaraja Lena Viharaya – A colossal 45 foot statue of Lord Buddha in a sleeping posture can be seen here. This statue depicts the passing away of the Lord or the Parinirvana. The title of this cave could have been derived due to the presence of an image of God Vishnu which was believed to have been setup during the reign of King Vatta Gamini.
Maharaja Viharaya – As the title goes, this cave accommodates the statues of Maha Rajas or Great Kings, King Valagamba and King Nissankamalla. This cave especially has been epitomized for its serene outlook. Thousands of murals can be located on the cave walls and is the largest and most attractive cave due to the large number of statues of Lord Buddha, found in different postures throughout.
Maha Aluth Viharaya – Translated into the ‘Great New Temple’, this cave temple showcases two doorways with arches designed to resemble that of Dragons. Comprised of fascinating murals and a number of statues as well, many of the artistic depictions found here signify a Kandyan form of art. One other amazing feature from this cave is the painting on the rock ceiling which shows an image of a thousand seated Buddha.
Pacchima Viharaya – The Pacchima or the Western Temple as it also known is denoted for its awe-inspiring seated image of the Lord Buddha in a ‘dhyana mudhra’ posture. A small stupa-like enclosure or dageba has been known to hold jewellery belonging to King Valagamba’s wife, Somawathi.
Devana Aluth Viharaya – The Devana Aluth or Second New Temple is the recent most temple that was constructed out of all the others in the vicinity. Sadly, history has not made record of when exactly this temple was erected. Here, eleven statues of Lord Buddha in various positions can be found. While most images within the other caves have been carved or built using granite, this cave has statues made out of brick and plaster.
Tips when visiting – The entire trip might take some 2 hours to complete and though the climb might seem arduous, it is entirely worth it once you reach the top. The surrounding views are breathtaking. The climb can start from one direction, starting from where the ticket counter is and descend from the opposite direction. It s advisable to be aware of monkeys who roam about in search of food.
Exquisitely carved stone structures, serene statues of Lord Buddha, dazzlingly decorated temples built in to rocky overhangs and feats of irrigation that amaze the world even today are just some of the treasures left by a proud civilization stretching back more than two thousand years.
Naturally attractive, rich in culture and steeped in mysticism, Sri Lanka makes for a wonderful introduction to both travel and the Indian subcontinent. This trip is everything you could want in a family getaway.
Leave moderation at home and indulge on this gourmet adventure in Sri Lanka. Lie back on the coast, cool down in the highlands and weave through the streets of the buzzing capital.