Attraction

Dambulla Rock Temple

In a country famous for its shrines, the UNESCO site of Dambulla is something truly exceptional. The original cave dates back to prehistoric times, before it was converted in the first century BC to a holy site, and today is acclaimed as Sri Lanka’s largest and best preserved cave complex.

An awe-inspiring temple 

Perched atop a 160-metre tall rock, the Dambulla Cave Temple is composed of over 80 caves. Although visitors are welcome to explore the entire complex, there are five principle caverns that were converted into temples of worship hundreds of years ago and still provide the main sanctuaries today. It’s within these dimly lit and serene spaces that you’ll discover lavishly painted and ornate statues, 153 of them depicting Buddha, alongside statues of gods and goddesses including Ganesha and Vishnu. Lining the walls are magnificent murals, each depicting stories from the Buddhist faith. Look up and you’ll notice that even the ceilings are intricately decorated with patterns and religious images embellishing the natural contours of the rock.

Each of the five caves has its own history and religious purpose – for a rounded explanation of each, we highly recommend taking one of the many guided tours. However, simply by wandering through the five main caves, with their vivid colours and lovingly carved statues, you’ll get a sense of the awe and wonder felt by worshippers.

A UNESCO World Heritage site, and undoubtedly one of Sri Lanka’s most unique, opulent and best preserved religious sites, Dambulla Cave Temple is one of our highlights.

Top Tips from our Experts

Sheryl

Destination Manager

"A guide will provide you with unprecedented information during a visit here – it really did fascinate me – their knowledge is outstanding".

Clive

Content Editor

“As with all temples in Sri Lanka, bare legs and shoulders are seen as disrespectful so be sure to cover up before entering.”

Nick

Senior Destination Manager

“It’s a steep uphill climb to the entrance of the complex, so make sure you purchase your tickets at the counter at the base of the hill before embarking upwards.”