Dambulla Cave Temple
Also known as the Golden Temple of Dambulla, this cave temple is built within five caves under a vast overhanging rock. There are over 80 documented caves in the surrounding area and there is evidence to suggest that prehistoric Sri Lankans may have lived in these caves over 2,700 years ago before Buddhism was established in Sri Lanka. The rock plateau stands about 160 meters above its surrounding landscape offering spectacular views from the temple complex.
It is believed that King Valagamba of Anuradhapura took refuge in the Dambulla caves when South Indian invaders took over the Capital city. After 15 years in exile, King Valangamba reclaimed his throne and built a temple complex in Dambulla to pay homage to this site. It is believed the temple complex was further developed by successive rulers.
The ceilings of the fives caves are painted with intricate patterns of religious images which follow the contours of the rock. There are images of the Lord Buddha and bodhisattvas, as well other gods and goddesses. There are also a total of 153 Buddha statues of varying sizes, statues of Sri Lankan kings and statues of gods and goddesses within the caves.
The temple complex is a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1991.