The Dambulla Cave Temple, officially called Jumbukola Vihara, is the largest and best-preserved temple cave complex in Sri Lanka. It is one of the eight UNESCO attractions that Sri Lanka has to offer. To be honest, before we went to the Dambulla caves, we weren’t that excited. If you’ve traveled for months through Asia like us and you’ve seen many temples, it feels like ‘just another pretty sacred place’. But, the Dambulla Cave Temple is something different. The details and artwork here are super impressive, and the paintings on the walls and ceiling are so detailed and beautiful! Absolutely worth a visit if you are in Sigiriya or Dambulla.
Best Sigiriya tours
If you’re planning to explore the best of what Sigiriya and surroundings have to offer, then these are the best guided tours. All of these tours include air conditioned transport with hotel pick up and drop off, certified guides and sometimes also lunch and the entrance fees. You can reserve now and pay later, with cancellation up to 24 hours in advance to receive a full refund.
- Sigiriya rock, golden temple, wildlife safari in Minneriya day tour. Explore the best of what Sigiriya has to offer during this day tour. Visit the Sigiriya Rock, Dambulla Golden Temple and spot wildlife and elephants at Minneriya National Park.
- Dambulla Caves and Kaudulla National Park Safari from Negombo. Visit the Golden Temple and Cave Temple in Dambulla on this private day tour. Then then explore the wonders of Kaudulla National Park on your jeep safari to see vast numbers of elephants and wildlife.
- Dambulla Cave Temple and Village All-Inclusive Tour. Explore the Dambulla Cave Temple and experience traditional Sri Lankan village life. You will also enjoy a traditional cooking demonstration in a rural village house, before sitting down for an authentic Sri Lankan lunch.
- Sigiriya Rock Fortress Guided Walking Tour. Discover the Sigirya rock fortress on a 2-3-hour walking trip which will provide an insight into the art, tradition, and history of Sri Lanka.
- Minneriya National Park Safari from Sigiriya. Spot wild animals like elephants, crocodiles, and monkeys in Minneriya NP while driving around in a 4WD jeep with guide.
How to get to Dambulla Cave Temple
The Dambulla Cave Temple site is located just a little bit outside of the city of Dambulla. If you stay in Sigiriya you can get a Tuk Tuk to bring you there. We rented a scooter for 2000 rupee so we had the freedom the drive around in Sigiriya and Dambulla.
The entrance fee for the Dambulla Cave Temple is 1500 rupee per person. Be aware that the ticket office is at the bottom of the hill. So, if you get to the top and you don’t have a ticket you need to come right back down.
The opening times are from 7AM – 7PM.
What to expect at Dambulla Cave Temple
Sitting on top of a 160 meter high rock, the Dambulla Cave Temple consists of 5 caves with Buddha statues, each with a different interior and statues. Beautiful wall and ceiling paintings make these caves very unique. This is some of Sri Lanka’s most important and evocative religious art. At the bottom of the Dambulla Cave Temple is The Golden Temple which is a huge Buddha and also has a museum which you can check out.
It is assumed these caves were homes to pre-historic locals dating back around 3000 years, because there were human skeletons discovered in the local area. The caves were restored and re-painted as they’re part of the Kingdom of Kandy since the 18th century.
The view from the top of the rock is beautiful. Facing West, you can watch a beautiful sunset here. It’s actually the best place to watch the sunset in Dambulla! It takes 364 steps and around 15-20 minutes depending on your pace. It is advisable to go in the morning or afternoon considering the heat during midday. Before you enter the caves, you have to take off your shoes and cover your knees and shoulders. You can rent a sarong at the entrance, but better is to be prepared before your visit.
Overall this is something you can’t miss when you’re in the Sigiriya or Dambulla area. It’s a perfect morning or afternoon activity and even if you’ve already seen loads of temples or caves like us, this is a very unique one! And when you’re interested in history and art this is a definitely a must do. Take the time to really absorb the wall and ceiling paintings, and if you like photography you can make some really nice long exposure shots here!
More Sri Lanka travel guides
I hope you enjoyed this complete guide about Dambulla Cave Sri Lanka.
For more Sri Lanka inspiration, head over to these blog posts: