Dambulla Rock Temple
Once a Sacred Refuge, Now a World Heritage Site
Nestled upon a rocky summit 160 metres above the central city of Dambulla, this UNESCO World Heritage Site features sanctified caves with centuries of tales that have shaped the five immaculate Buddhist shrine rooms open for visitors today.
A 14-metre rock state of the Lord Buddha sits in the Devaraja Lena, otherwise known as The Cave of the Divine King. The adjacent Maha Raja Vihare, also known as the Cave of Great Kings, perpetuates the Buddhist veneration with 56 statues of the Lord Buddha and other deities. The same cave houses a large statue of the ancient King Valagamba, who took refuge in these very caves for fourteen years due to a South Indian invasion, but upon regaining power of his kingdom, converted them to the sacred site we know them as today.
The Maha Aluth Vihare, or Great New Monastery features paintings and states from the more recent Kandyan period, while the Paccima Vihare and Devana Aluth Vihare offer further devotion into the Buddhist lineage of Sri Lanka, with 153 images of the Lord Buddha and over 1,500 ceiling murals to elegantly complete the historic cave complex.