Dambulla is a large town, situated in the Matale District, Central Province of Sri Lanka. The town is situated 148 km north-east of Colombo and 72 km north of Kandy. Due to its location at a major junction, it is the center of vegetable distribution in the country. It is also given the title of a World Heritage Site.
It is home to the Worlds most acclaimed Cave complex of magnificent Buddha Images and Rock Paintings which has increased the tourist attractions of Dambulla. Other major attractions of the area include the Rangiri Dambulla International Stadium, famous for being built in just 167 days, the largest rose quartz mountain range in South Asia, and the Ironwood forest, or Na Uyana Aranya. Ibbankatuwa prehistoric burial site near Dambulla rock cave temple complex is the latest archaeological site of significant historical importance found in Dambulla, which is located within 3 km of the cave temples providing evidence of the presence of indigenous civilizations long before the arrival of Indian influence on the Island nation.
Dambulla Cave Temple
Sri Lanka is rich and overflowing with its colorful history, many came and went, and the essence of the dominance still lingers about in the cities and buildings. The beauty of Dambulla cave temple combines with an iconic Sri Lankan image where you can be familiar with its spectacular Buddha, filled interior long before you arrive in town. Dambulla Cave Temple’s glory is recognized and that is why it holds the title of a world heritage site. People from faraway places come to see the cultural beauty with their own eyes. There are five cave temples in this complex, situated in the huge rock of Dambulla. Its perpendicular height above the plain is about six hundred feet. Very few parts of it are covered with wood, and in general, its surface is bare and black.
Value of Dambulla cave temple also identified as the Golden Temple of Dambulla is a World Heritage Site in Sri Lanka. Dambulla is the largest and best- preserved cave temple complex in Sri Lanka. The rock towers 160 m over the surrounding plains. There are more than 80 documented caves in the surrounding area. People attractions of Dambulla cave temple are spread over five caves, which contain statues and paintings. These paintings and statues are related to Gautama Buddha and his life. There are a total of 153 Buddha statues, three statues of Sri Lankan kings and four statues of gods and goddesses. The latter include Vishnu and the Ganesha. The murals cover an area of 2,100 square meters. Depictions on the walls of the caves include the temptation by the demon Mara, and Buddha’s first sermon.
This historic temple dates way back to first century BCE. The structure of this temple can be explained as an overhanging rock looming over five enormous caves. When it was made, it was considered as one of the largest and most essential monasteries. The hands of many Kings and rulers have interfered with the temple, but it still stands and screams the history embedded deep inside every crack of its walls. Inside the caves, the ceilings are painted with intricate patterns of religious images following the contours of the rock. There are images of the Lord Buddha and bodhisattvas, as well as various gods and goddesses.
History of Dambulla cave temple
The Dambulla Rock Temple had first been constructed during the reign of King Vattagamini Valagamba. During a South Indian invasion, the king had to abandon his Anuradhapura Kingdom. For 12 years, King Valagamba was in hiding and had frequented these caves for his safety. After regaining the kingdom of Anuradhapura and becoming the King, to show his gratefulness for his safe place, he converted those caves into Buddhist Temples by constructing walled partitions under the rock overhang which spans the entire area as a single large cave. The three cave temples named as Devarajalena, Maharajalena, and the Paccimalena were constructed by him.
After King Valagamba, many Kings gave patronage to made renovations to the Cave temples and uplifting of a number of Buddha statues were done. It is said that the King Vijayabahu I and King Keerthi Sri Nissankamalla and after them following many kings, were all involved in those renovations in these cave temples. King Keerthi Sri Nissankamalla was much involved in uplifting the place with many additional Buddha images being constructed and gold plating some seventy-three Buddha images in the cave temple. Another interesting fact is that the Archeologists state that this cave and other numerous caves around the main rock had been in use for dwelling in prehistoric times too from the evidence found so far.
Paintings of Dambulla
There are five caves (shrine rooms) in Dambulla temple. All of these caves are full of statues of Buddha and various personages of the Buddhist Order or History. There are 150 Buddha images in these caves. Cave No. 5 has no historical value as it was done in the second decade of this century. All of the other caves contain statues and paintings representing various epochs of Sinhalese sculpture and painting. The early paintings of Dambulla are
believed by some to belong to the 8th century A. C. But this cannot be proved at all because of overpainting. Nevertheless, this place is a mine of decorative designs, the patterns of which resemble those of Sigiriya. To a student of the history of Buddhism, a careful study of the paintings of Dambulla provides a good deal of source material.
Dambulla is a scent of unique interest. Its rock temples are the most extensive in the Island, and one of the most ancient, and in the highest state of preservation and order. Dambulu – gala (the rock of Dambulla), in which these temples are situated, is almost insulated and of a vast size. Despite its historical importance of these cave complex, this place remains as an important slightly commercial air, this remains as an important archeological site and a place filled with decorative paintings and statues where you should not be missed.