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Updated by Joanna James on Jun 23, 2019
Headline for Interesting Facts about the world heritage city of Dambulla – The city of Archeological Marvels
Joanna James Joanna James
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Interesting Facts about the world heritage city of Dambulla – The city of Archeological Marvels

Sri Lanka is an Island nation with a history of over 2500 years and Dambulla is one of its central historical sites. It is situated in the district of Matale; just 72 km north of the world heritage city of Kandy, Dambulla is a major tourist attraction, enticing many visitors with its archaeological and religious sites!


A pilgrimage for Buddhists for nearly 22 centuries.

Dambulla is characterized by the historical significance it holds for Sri Lankans and Buddhists alike. Home to the world heritage sites of the Cave Temples, the Golden Temple and the Sigiriya fortress, thousands of pilgrims flock to Dambulla every year, all year round1


The well-preserved Cave Temples

The most important pilgrimage site in Dambulla is its Cave Temples. Believed to be constructed by King Valagamba after his reclamation of the throne, the Cave Temples are made up of five temples; the Maharaja Viharaya, the Pachima Viharaya, the Maha Aluth Viharaya, the Devaraja Viharaya, and the Devana Alut Viharaya. Cut out into a huge granite mountain, a good 160 m above the road in the southern part of Dambulla, the first of the murals painted on the walls of the caves date back 2000 years.
Consisting of 153 Buddha statues and 3 Lankan monarchs along with 4 other deities, the murals on the walls of these temples are a sight to behold!


Sigiriya Fortress

Declared the 8th wonder of the world, and one of Sri Lanka's primary tourist attractions, the Sigiriya Fortress is an engineering marvel that baffles people to this day. Built by King Kasyapa sometime between 477-495 CE, the remains of what was undoubtedly a magnificent palace have been discovered on top of the rock. Adorned by frescoes and murals, it can only be reached by the steps that have been cut through and into the rock, a feat that was achieved by the artisans of Kasyapa. The tale of history that surrounds King Kasyapa, his father King Datusena and his brother Prince Mugalan enriches the architectural marvel that has stood the test of time.


The Ibbankatuwa Megalithic Burial site

Believed to belong to the megalithic prehistoric period of Sri Lanka, the Ibbankatuwa archaeological site, first identified in 1970, has burial sites dating back to a time between 700-400 BC. An area of about 1 square kilometre, 42 clusters of tombs of about 10 tombs each have been discovered. Located just 5km from the Dambulla town, this too is an archaeologically protected site.


A Sri Lanka's largest Vegetable and Fruit distribution centre

Given Dambulla's location on the island, the city also houses the country's largest wholesale produce distribution centre. If you are looking to buy fresh produce by the truckload, the Dambulla produce market is the place for you.


The Largest Rose Quartz Mountain range in South Asia

The Jathika Namal Uyana and the largest Rose quartz mountain range in South Asia is shared by the cities of Kurunegala and Dambulla. The endemic Ironwood Tree has been replanted and preserved in this national reserve of about 260 acres. The Rose Quartz Mountain, with a history of about 550 million years, is an unforgettable sight, especially as sunlight hits the rock, illuminating the whole mountain range.


The History of Dambulla's Kings

The Dambulla Cave Temples is supposedly where King Vattagamini Abhaya or King Valagamba famously hid in exile for 14 years from the throne of the Anuradhapura Kingdom which had been captured by invading Cholas from South India. Dambulla is also the famous historic site where he raised his army to reclaim the throne. It is said that he constructed the Cave Temples for the monks who hid him from the invaders after he reclaimed the throne.


The Tourist attraction!

All of this makes Dambulla one of Sri Lanka's premier tourist attractions. It is also, therefore, home to five-star hotels like the Heritance Kandalama. If you are ever looking for places to stay in Dambulla, like a hotel in Sigiriya, then fear not!

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