Dambulla cave temple is located on a mountain about 600 meters above sea level. It’s location at a height of about 350 feet on the Dambulla rock. Some caves are man-made while others are natural caves. The temple have 6 caves but only 5 caves can be visited. Some of the natural caves were enlarged by the benevolent 1st century BC Watta Gamini.
Watta Gamini who known as King Walagamba in Anuradhapura Kingdom. But according to an inscription on the rock, the history of these caves goes back to the 3rd-5th centuries BC. An inscription states that monks lived there during the reign of King Watta Gamini and that the cave was develop by the king.
After found dambulla cave temple
The caves also patronize by King Vijayabahu and King Nissankamalla of the 11th century Polonnaruwa Kingdom. King Nissanakamalla, the king of the Mahavamsa mention in the Mahavamsa, spent 700,000 gold coins and worship at the temple, which later became known as the Swarnagiri Cave (Golden Mountain Cave).
After the end of the Polonnaruwa area, no one paid any attention to this temple. This cave later rebuilt by King Senarath of Kandy. Finally, King Sri Wickrema Rajasinghe sponsor for the development of the temple.
Names of five caves
Paintings in these caves illustrate the life story of the Buddha and the history of Sri Lanka. There are about 153 Buddha statues.
The first cave is named as Raja Viharaya. 47 The Nourishing Long Buddha Statue Represents Death (Parinibbana).
The second cave is called the Maha Raja Viharaya. Include many paintings and statues of the Buddha.
Third Cave – The Great New Temple. The whole cave with many paintings of Buddha and the history of Sri Lanka.
Fourth Cave – West Temple. 10 Buddha statues of the same size
Fifth Cave – Second New Temple. The smallest cave.
In the Pali language of the greatest chronicle of the Dambulla Mahavamsa it was known as Jambukola. But there is also a natural harbor of the same name in the north of Sri Lanka. It is the port that brings the sacred Bo-trees to Sri Lanka.
The name Jambukola is found in the Mahavamsa during the reign of King Vijayabahu I. King Nissankamalla also wrote the name “Dambulu Lena” and “Swarnagiri Cave” in an inscription in Dambulla.
Present dambulla cave temple
However, although there is no prior history of this cave in our major chronicles, there are many inscriptions about it in Dambulla. Generational history of Dambulla cave temples. So, according to this history, this cave built by King Wattagamini Abhaya in the 1st century BC. This king invade by the Indians and after a battle of 12 years he crowned king again and he turns this cave into a monastery in his honor.
It is the largest and best preserved cave temple in Sri Lanka. Likewise the rock towers are 160 meters higher than the adjacent plain. Also there are more than 80 caves around, except for these 5 caves which contain many Buddha statues and paintings on the rock. In conclusion these paintings and statues are related to Lord Buddha and his life.
There are 153 Buddha statues. Likewise, 3 statues of Sri Lankan kings and 4 statues of gods and goddesses. Gods, Vishnu and Ganesh. The mural covers an area of 2,100 m². The depiction of the cave walls includes the Buddha’s incitement to death and the Buddha’s first sermon.
The timeline of the caves
7th to 3rd century: Aborigines
1st century BC: Paintings and statues
5th century: The stupa was built
12th century: Collection of statues of Hindu deities
18th century AD: Much of what we see today
AD 19th century: Extra cave and more painting