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Updated by Joanna James on Mar 16, 2024
Headline for How to explore Dambulla Cave Temple – voyage to a picturesque pilgrimage site
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Joanna James Joanna James
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How to explore Dambulla Cave Temple – voyage to a picturesque pilgrimage site

Positioned within Sri Lanka’s famed Cultural Triangle and perceived as both a religious monument and heritage site, the Dambulla Cave Temple is a ‘must do’ whenever you decide to head to Sri Lanka on holiday. Easily paired with trips to the Lion Rock of Sigiriya and Minneriya National Park, the shrine is a testament to a nation’s rich legacy.

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Value of visiting Dambulla Cave Temple

In the aftermath of extensive excavations that were carried out, archaeologists revealed that the site on which the shrine stands contained as many as 80 caves, with each appearing in complete contrast to the next. Of the caves discovered, a total of 5 have found fame in the hearts of not merely historians but keen leisure travellers and pilgrims. Thus, no sooner one venture in, one will be greeted by scenes comprising a stunning array of murals and statues that showcase the teachings and values of Buddhism. Amongst the paintings worth mentioning are those of Lord Buddha and a host of other deities such as Vishnu and Ganesh. Therefore, in terms of advice, it would serve one’s interests to invest as much time as possible inspecting every element that is housed within these caves.

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When is it best to go?

Know that the Dambulla Cave Temple opens its doors to members of the general public on a daily basis, commencing at 7 am and ending at 7 pm. Further, an entrance fee of LKR 1,500 will be charged for every visitor. With regards to the most favourable time to visit the shrine, one can opt for either the morning or late afternoon. In the case of the former, understand that a majority of the Temple’s visitors are received no sooner dawn breaks. This is attributed to the fact that one will have ample space in which to roam freely within the caves and take pleasure in the sights and sounds associated with the attraction with a reduced risk of having to move through throngs of like-minded tourists. The perks of choosing the latter centre around the thrill of being able to enjoy the glorious sunset at one’s own pace and snap up a few pictures of the spectacle before you. Although, on the occasion of the monthly Poya Day holiday, patrons will be left in complete awe of the locals and their families who arrive at the shrine to pay homage that would in turn, appear as a sea of sparkling white flowing through the Dambulla Cave Temple.

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Tips to have in mind

Reading up on the attraction will be a good habit as will talking to those who have made the journey before you. The more information you have to rely on, the better your experience will be. Against such a backdrop, never forget to carry rations in the likes of drinking water and snacks to last the trip. However, be sure to keep your eyes open for the monkeys who inhabit the immediate environs of the Temple as they are known to become aggressive when they witness visitors moving about with food and drinks. On a more important note, a conservative attitude is followed before setting foot on sacred grounds such as the Dambulla Cave Temple and as a result, you will be required to wear decent clothing that covers your shoulders and extends towards your knees. Though shorts will not be allowed, you can purchase a wrap-around or sarong to cover your legs up until the point at which your journey ends. Also, remember to pace yourself as the climb up to the hill will see you covering as many as 300 steps that will take the average vacationer around 10 minutes to complete. Navigating the path ahead too quickly may see you reaching the summit battling a state of exhaustion which is a practice one can ill-afford given the spectacular scenes that await you. It is undeniable that calling by the attraction is one of the better things to do near Sigiriya. Thus, when making plans, be sure to allocate time towards finding decent accommodation such as Ayurvie Sigiriya which is nestled a short distance away.