Dambulla is a fairly big city situated in the middle of the Cultural Triangle and it’s the perfect location if you are looking for a place well-connected to visit the other cities part of this Triangle. However, in my opinion, and although it may not be as convenient as Dambulla, I would stay in other city and for instance Sigiriya and only consider Dambulla as a pit stop to see the amazing Dambulla Cave Temple – and for that you just need a couple of hours. Dambulla itself isn’t charming and for me it’s just a big bus station in the form of a city. Others may have a different opinion but if you ask me it’s what I would honestly say to you.
Nevertheless, don’t be put off by the lack of charm and don’t ignore this city. Maybe there is just one reason to keep this city in the spotlight but only one reason is enough to pay Dambulla a visit and this is, as I said, the Cave Temple. It is a must-see and really and trully deserves a visit.
I arrived in Dambulla from Sigiriya by bus, which is roughly a 30 minutes ride. If you are also travelling from Sigiriya don’t get off the bus until you reach the last stop which is the actual bus station. From there you have two options: either walk (which is about 45 minutes) or get a tuk-tuk. I didn’t have much time as it was already late in the afternoon. I moved that day from Anuradhapura to Sigiriya and after leaving my stuff at the homestay I decided to spend the afternoon visiting the caves, so I took a tuk-tuk.
I read something about the ticket office, that it was not located in the main road but at the back so I mentioned to my tuk-tuk driver that I wanted to go to the caves hence I wanted him to drop me off SPECIFICALLY and EXACTLY at the ticket office. Then he said “the Golden Temple?” and I repeated SPECIFICALLY to the Cave Temple ticket office. He nodded so I thought he was going to bring me there but no. He dropped me off at the Golden Temple. I argued (nicely) with him that this was not the ticket office but he told me that I had to go inside and then I could get the tickets. “It’s ok” I thought, “how much harm can do me to go inside a get the tickets by myself?”. I started walking when another tuk-tuk driver shouted “ticket office madame? oooh far far. The other side” but because I already paid for a ride to the actual ticked office, even though I was not actually in there, I decided to walk by myself thinking again that it was not going to be a big deal.
Long story short, I spent about 45 minutes from there to get to the ticket office and finally reaching the caves. Apparently you have to go up and then go down, then when you are at the back road walk for about 5 minutes and then go back and up again, aaaaaaaarrrrgggg it was so frustrating (even more when you think that you clearly specified that you wanted to be dropped off there and you paid for it!). Also I was running out of time and rushed up to have enough time to enjoy my visit to the caves, which were meant to be amazing. And they DEFINITELY and ABSOLUTELY were, with no hesitation. All my anger disappeared as soon as I stept in the first cave. The walls, the ceilings, the floors, the statues… they all filld me with calm and peace, I entered in a hypnotic state of mind surrounded by Sri Lankan history. Suddenly the time stopped and I was there, looking at every single corner, staring at the statues as if they were alive waiting to tell a story, their story. Cheesy, I know, but it is what I sincerily felt.
The Dambulla Cave Temple is a place I wouldn’t mind to visit again, crammed with statues and glorious religious murals on walls and ceilings. If I ever go back to Sri Lanka, I’ll definitely visit the Dambulla Cave Temple again. Funny enough, it’s the place where I took more picture, couldn’t stop myself.
Dambulla Cave Temple in a nutshell
Dambulla Cave Temple was recognised by the UNESCO as a World heritage site in 1991. With over 2,000 years of history, Dambulla Cave Temple is by far the most impressive caves found in Sri Lanka.
The temple is composed by 5 caves one next to the other under a vast overhanging rock, and they are:
- Cave 1: the Devaraja Viharaya “Temple of the Lord of the Gods”
- Cave 2: the Maharaja Vihara “The Temple of the Great Kings”
- Cave 3: the Maha Alut Viharaya “Great New Temple”
- Cave 4: the Paccima Viharaya “Western Temple”
- Cave 5: the Devana Alut Viharaya “Second New Temple”
It’s best to visit the caves in reverse order starting at the end (cave 5), then you’ll see how the caves increase their splendor being cave 2 the most impressive of them.
From the top you can also enjoy the stunning views of the surrounding countryside, reaching even Sigiriya which is 20km distant.
If you would like to know more about the history of Dambula Cave Temple I’m not the best person to ask but you can have a look at the following post by Lakpura travels where they explain everything you need to know about it:
Dambulla Cave Temple: 7.30am to 7pm daily.
Ticket office: 7.30am to 12.30pm and 1pm to 6pm.
1,500 LKR (includes the entrance to the Golden Temple Buddhist Museum)
Including route to get from the bus station to the ticket office by tuk-tuk
So guys, Dambulla Cave Temple is a must-see. Don’t skip it when in Sri Lanka and pay it a visit.
Have you ever been to Sri Lanka and visit Dambulla Cave Temple? What are your thoughts?
If you haven’t, hope this post motivates you to go and don’t miss it. Pretty sure you will love it.
Are you planning a trip to Sri Lanka? If so, you may find the following posts very useful:
Have fun and see you around witties!
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