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The Sacred Caves of Dambulla

semi-overcast 30 °C

We've been climbing again. This time to visit five natural caves that have been a place of worship for more than two thousand years. According to our knowledgeable guide, the entrance to the Royal Rock caves in Dambulla has been jealously guarded by two competing monks for many years...
This monstrous, garishly gilded image of Buddha sits atop one of the monk's temples on one side of the mountain – the side where the main car park is situated. The competing temple, on the other side of the mountain, is far less ostentatious. However, it is the monk of this other temple who currently owns the right to charge admission to the caves. Therefore, having been dropped at the car park on one side of the mountain, someone had to climb up and over the top to reach the ticket office on the other side! (Anyone correctly guessing who was sent on this arduous journey will receive two free tickets to visit the caves – airfare not included).
The climb to the Royal Rock temples of Dambulla is far less strenuous than Sigiriya, and there are no scary stairs, so we arrived with breath to spare.
Despite guidebook warnings about the crush of tourists, we seemed to be alone as we entered the first of the five caves...
In total the caves are home to more than 150 statues of Buddha and while you may think that once you have seen one Buddha you have seen them all – think again. While many of the figures are just 10 or 12 feet tall others are so big they have to lay down...
Some of the statues were here before the birth of Christ, (though we have no idea which ones)...
Every inch of the walls and ceilings of the five caves is embellished with ancient murals which, we are assured, are painted entirely with natural pigments from the trees and plants in the surrounding jungle...
King Valagamba started this place in the 1st century BC and subsequent kings each added to the collection of religious statuary...
And the last king of Sri Lanka – King Kirti Sri Rajasinghe – managed to get himself in the line-up of Buddhas with this statue...
King Kirti was deposed at the end of the 18th Century when Ceylon became a British colony.

Now, in case you are wondering how we managed to get these photos without hordes of tourists blocking our view - we used our people free camera. Here is a true picture of the crowds we encountered at the caves...
And this little chap with a bad hair cut was chuckling to himself as he sat in the shade and watched all of us humans struggling up a mountain in the heat just to look at a bunch of old statues...
Who says monkeys are dumb animals?

Posted by Hawkson 17:42 Archived in Sri Lanka

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These temples and Buddha's are exquisite. Here's hoping they last another 2,000 years.

by Janet

Amazing Sri Lanka Buddhist temple. Actually Dambulla is very interesting place to visit.I am going very often to visit.

by Danushka Fernando

That's quite some entrance--bulgy eyes, teeth, and tongue hanging out. If some of that yellow is real gold, there's a fortune in the gilding.

by R and B

That laughing little guy at the end is the model for Trump's haircut. Too bad the jokes on us.

by Tom Whalley

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