Dambulla is also part of the Cultural Triangle and houses the Great Dambulla Cave Temple declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Located 78 kms north of Kandy, the Dambulla caves date back to the 1st century BCE. Originally it was the refuge of King Valagambahu, and the caves were later converted into a rock temple. It houses beautiful frescoes and an imposing 15 metre-long reclining Buddha. Hindu deities are also represented in these caves. The caves are considered to be the finest storehouse of Sinhala art and sculpture.

Dating back to the 1st Century BCE; is the most impressive cave temple in Sri Lanka. It has five caves under a vast overhanging rock, carved with a drip ledge to keep the interiors dry. In 1938 the architecture was inflated with arched walkways. 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. The temple is composed of five caves converted to shrine rooms. The caves, built at the base of a 150 metre high rock during the Anuradhapura (1st Century BCE to 993 AD) and Polonnaruwa times (1073 to 1250), are the most impressive of the many cave temples in Sri Lanka.

Access is along the gentle slope of the Dambulla Rock, offering a panoramic view of the surrounding flat lands, which includes the rock fortress Sigiriya, 19 kilometres away. Families of friendly monkeys make the climb even more interesting. Dusk brings hundreds of swooping swallows to the cave entrance. The largest cave measures about 52 metres from east to west, and 23 metres from the entrance to the back, this spectacular cave is 7 metres tall at its highest point. Hindu deities are also represented here, and the kings Valagamba, Nissankamalla, and Arhant Ananda - the Buddha's most devoted disciple.

Within these shrine rooms is housed a collection of one hundred and fifty statues of the Buddhist Order and the country's history. These statues and paintings represent of many eras of Sinhala art and sculpture. The Buddha statues are in varying sizes and attitudes - the largest is 15 metres long. One cave has over 1,500 paintings of Buddha covering the ceiling.

The Dambulla cave monastery is still functional and remains the best-preserved ancient structure in Sri Lanka. This complex dates from the 3rd and 2nd Centuries BCE; it was established as one of the largest and most important monasteries. King Valagambahu converted the caves into a temple in the 1st century BCE. Exiled from Anuradhapura, he sought refuge here from South Indian usurpers for 15 years. After reclaiming his capital, the King built a temple in thankful worship. Many other kings added to it later and by the 11th century, the caves had become a major religious centre. King Nissankamalla gilded the caves and added about 70 Buddha statues in 1190 AD. During the 18th century, the caves were restored and painted by the Kandyan Kings.

A hike to the highest Rose Quartz Mountain Range in South Asia offers the pleasure of a striking view of the neighbouring area for miles around. With a history spanning over 1,000 years, the Jathika Namal Uyana, also known as the Ironwood Forest, offers a fascinating trek through a deep jungle comprising of the Sri Lankan national tree, the Ñá Tree. The forest is of important ecological enormity and is the focus of studies by ecologists and students of nature.

The Dambulla Rock offers a scenic view of the surrounding area, including the rock fortress of Sigiriya which is 19 kilometres away. Visiting Dambulla can be combined with Sigiriya as the two sites lie in close proximity to each other and tourists can avail of some world-class hotels well located near these sites.

(information gather from Srilankaheritages.com)