Dambulla – The City of the Caves

Dambulla is a large city, situated at the central province in Sri Lanka, at the junction of highways A6 and A9, 150km away from Colombo. The city is known mostly due to the impressive and imposing complex of Cave Temples, which is also referred to as Royal Rock Temple. The complex is a major tourist destination, as many people visit the area and stay at one of the hotels in the city, or choose to come for a day trip from other nearby cities, such as Kandy.

Dambulla was inhabited at the 4th or 5th century BC approximately, and some of the statues and paintings found in the complex date back to the 1st century BC. The caves of the city are known as the refuge of the king Valagamba, when he was exiled by from the Kingdom. The caves were inhabited by monks who offered the refuge to the King protecting him from his numerous enemies. Later, when the king returned to the throne, he showed his gratitude building a rock temple in the area.

Today, the cave complex in Dambulla is one of the best preserved cave temples in the world and part of the UNESCO World heritage sites. There are approximately 80 caves in the area, although five of them are the most important ones, containing the artifacts, paintings and statues dedicated to Buddha. The numbers are impressive, as there are more than 150 statues of Buddha, a few statues of the Kings and the Gods, while the murals cover a total area of 2,100 square meters. One of the most known paintings in the area is the temptation of Buddha, by the demon Mara.

The caves in Dambulla were restored by UNESCO in the previous century, and all tourists who travel to the region today are able to admire the impressive complex in its full glory.

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