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Dambulla’s famed Royal Rock Temple is an iconic Sri Lankan image – you’ll be familiar with its spectacular Buddha-filled interior long before you arrive in town. Despite its slightly commercial air this remains an important holy place and should not be missed.

Dambulla is situated just 12 miles before Sigiriya and consists of a vast, isolated rock mass, 500 feet high and a mile round the base. This famous first century B.C. Rock Temple is built on it. The caves of Dambulla sheltered the King of Sri Lanka during his exile from Anuradhapura. On his regaining the throne, he built these most magnificent rock-temple. He turned a series of five caves into shrines. The first cave has images of deities associated with Buddhism. The frescoes on the ceiling and walls are said to date back to the 15th and 16th centuries. The Recument Buddha in this cave is 47 feet long and cut out of the rock. The second cave is the finest and largest. There are numerous images of the Buddha and the frescoes depict great events in the life of the Buddha and landmarks in the history of the Sinhala people. After you’re seen all the caves remember to take a view from the top of the rock. It’s truly breath-taking.

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