Sri Lanka is home to many impressive cave temples. However, the most astounding of all is the Raja Maha Vihara cave temple in Dambulla. Filled with amazing facts, art and architecture, the cave temples holds secret and heritage that can be matched by none. This amazing world heritage site positioned in the central part of Sri Lanka is nearly 148 kilometres east of the country’s commercial capital, Colombo.
The Cave Temple in Dambulla is the largest in the country. Five major caves form this great temple which houses statues and paintings of Buddha , whereby the largest cave boasts of 48 statues. There are nearly 80 caves found in the surrounding area that were said to have been used by Buddhist Monks.
This impressive cave temple dates back to the 1st century BC and is regarded as one of the finest in Asia. It is believed that King Valagambahu developed these enormous caves in to a temple. After escaping from Anuradhapura from the South Indians, the King is said to have taken refuge for a period of 15 years at these caves. It was during this period that the king converted the caves in to a remarkable temple.
Many kings who followed expanded the temple adding art and colour, and by the latter part of the 11th century, the Cave Temple in Dambulla had transformed itself to a unique and important place of worship.
The first cave known as the Cave of the Divine King is home to the 14-meter statue of Buddha made out of rock can be found. The second cave, which is, also the largest cave found in the temple, is known as the Maharaja Lena. This cave houses 40 seated and 16 standing statues of the Buddha as well as statues of the Gods Saman and Vishnu.
The Great New Monastery, which is the third cave, holds paintings that resemble a form of Kandyan art technique. There are 50 Buddha statues in this cave and a statue of King Kirthi Sri Rajasinha who took major efforts to preserve the Cave Temple in Dambulla while he was ruling in the Kingdom of Kandy. The remaining caves which are smaller in size dates to a later period. The temple is in use even today and that is the reason why it is known as one of the best-preserved ancient temples of Sri Lanka. This exceptional cave temple has become a significant historical site mainly because it boasts a combination of material and art from many diverse eras.
World Heritage Sites in Sri Lanka