Dambulla Golden Cave Temple

Dambulla cave temple, also known as the Golden Temple of Dambulla, is a World Heriatge Site by UNESCO. This site is situated 148 km east of Colombo and 72 km north of Kandy.

It is the largest and best-preserved cave temple complex in Sri Lanka. The rock towers 160m over the surrounding plains. There are more than 80 documented caves. Major attractions are inside five caves which contain statues and paintings.

These paintings and statues are related to Buddhas life as mentiond in Buddhist literature. There are 153 Buddha statues, three statues of Sri Lankan kings and four statues of gods and goddesses found here. From the time of Hindu cultural infuence to Sri Lanka aded two statues of Hindu gods, Vishnu and Ganesh.

The murals cover an area of 2,100 square metres which depict on the walls of the caves. Among them which include the temptation by Mara and Buddha's first sermon the most actracted painting.

The temple is composed of five caves which have been converted into shrine rooms. The caves built at the base of a 150m high rock during the Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa eras are by far the most impressive of the many cave temples found in Sri Lanka.

Access is along the gentle slope of the Dambulla Rock offering a panoramic view of the surrounding flat lands which include the rock fortress Sigiriya which is 19 km away. The cave temple has five caves under a vast overhanging rock, carved with a drip line to keep the interiors dry.In 1938 the architecture was embellished with arched colonnades and gabled entrances.The largest cave which 7 M tall measures about 52m from east to west and 23m from the entrance to the back.

Inside the caves, the ceilings are painted with intricate patterns of religious images following the contours of the rock. There are images of the Buddha and Bodhisattvas as well as various gods and goddesses.

The first cave is called Devaraja lena or "Cave of the Divine King."n the second and largest cave in addition to 16 standing and 40 seated statues of the Buddha are the gods Saman and Vishnu which pilgrims often decorate with garlands and finally statues of King Vattagamani Abhaya who honoured the monastery in the 1st century BC and King Nissanka Malla 12th century for the gilding of 50 statues as indicated by a stone inscription near the monastery entrance.

The cave is accordingly called Maharaja lena, "Cave of the Great Kings." The Buddha statue which is out of the rock on the left side of the room is escorted by wooden figures of the Bodhisattvas Maitreya and Avalokiteshvara or Natha.

There is also a dagoba and a spring which drips its water said to have healing powers out of a crack in the ceiling.Valuable tempera paintings on the cave ceiling dating from the18th century depict scenes from the Buddha's life from the dream of Mahamaya to temptation by Mara. Further pictures relate important events from the country's history.

The third cave, the Maha Alut Vihara, the "Great New Monastery" acquired a ceiling and wall paintings in the typical Kandy style during the reign of King Kirthi Sri Rajasinha (1747-1782), the famous Buddhist revivalist. In addition to the 50 Buddha statues, there is also a statue of the king.

Within the shrine rooms is representative of many epochs of Sinhala sculpture and Sinhala art.The Buddha statues are in varying sizes and mudras. The largest is15 metres long. One cave has over 1,500 paintings of the Buddha covering the ceiling.

 
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