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Dambulla, Sri Lanka

The Golden Rock Temple

Main article: Dambulla Cave Temple

Although there are numerous cave temples in Sri Lanka, the Golden Rock Temple a few kilometers south of the market town of Dambulla, is its most famous and spectacular. The town is about 72 kilometers north of Kandy, and the temple is in a cave under a range of granite hillocks which rise 160 meters above the surrounding plains.

It is believed that when King Vattagamini was fleeing from his enemies in the 1st century BCE, he was sheltered by ascetic monks who lived in these caves. After returning to power, he came back to build a large rock temple in gratitude to the monks. The caves were further enlarged by King Nissankamalla in the 12th century, with five temples built into them. There are more than a hundred statues of the Buddha within the temples, along with a few of kings and various deities. There are also murals on the walls depicting scenes from the Buddha’s life, some painted as recently as the 18th and 19th centuries, and these cover an area of 2,100 square meters.


Island of Light by T Y Lee