Home to one of the best-preserved cave temple complexes in Sri Lanka, Dambulla is a small town in Sri Lanka’s Central Province. It’s on the doorstep of the Sigiriya “sky palace” and the Rangiri Dambulla International Stadium, a 16,800-seat cricket complex overlooking the waters of Ibbankatuwa Wewa.
Things to do in Dambulla
See more than 150 Buddha statues that cluster in the UNESCO-listed Golden Temple of Dambulla, which has a history that dates back to the 1st century BC. Comprising more than 80 caves, the majority of the temple’s attractions are contained within just five and include frescoes in the Kandyan painting style that depict Gautama Buddha and his life.
A short drive north-east of Dambulla lies Sigiriya, an ancient rock fortress that is perched atop a 180-metre-high granite peak. It was established by King Kashyapa in the 5th century BC as his new capital and served as a Buddhist monastery well into the 14th century. Admire the mysterious frescoes that adorn the rock faces and the ancient verses scribbled on the Mirror Wall before exploring one of the oldest landscaped gardens in the world.
Want to mingle with the locals? Coincide your visit with a cricket game at Rangiri Dambulla International Stadium, which is the first and only cricket ground in Sri Lanka’s dry zone to host international matches. Names such as Mahela Jayawardene, Shikhar Dhawan and John Hastings have played on its bowler-friendly pitch during One-Day and Test Internationals.
Getting around Dambulla
Dambulla is just under four hours’ drive from Colombo and the Bandaranaike International Airport, the main gateway to Sri Lanka. Buses from Colombo, Kandy and Sigiriya all stop at the Dambulla bus station, which is a kilometre outside of town. Rickshaws are available for exploring Dambulla or it can be navigated on foot.