Sri Lanka is famous throughout the world for its centuries old Buddhist cave temples. There is large number of cave temples built by ancient kings. Out of all of them, over 21 century old Dambulla cave temple is the largest, most visited and the well preserved cave temple in Sri Lanka.
Dumbulla cave temple complex consists of many caves. Out of those, five of them are most prominent. Those five continues caves have many Buddha statues and cave walls and ceiling are decorated with paintings. Those provides ideal opportunity to witness the ancient artistic styles and talents of early day Sri Lankan artists. According to records, those murals covers the area of 2100 square meter of area and totally 157 statues. Those paintings are belonging to Anuradhapura kingdom (2nd century) to Kandian kingdom (18th century)
Recent excavations revealed that even these caves were used as human inhabitance during pre-historic times, long before the modern civilization era.
Another interesting thing in the main cave is, the incessant drip of water from the spring. This drop of water flow from ceiling continuously even in dry season and are collected to a large bowl placed beneath. Some believe that it has some healing power.
According to the some folk stories, name Dambulla derived from combination of two wards, Damba and Ulla. Damba means steep rock mountain and Ulla means fountain or flaw of water.
The internationality admired Dambulla Rangiri cave temple was named as a world heritage site in year 1991.
The initial construction of Dambulla Golden rock temple was done during the king Walagamba's time. The most number of Sri Lankan cave temples were created during his ruling time. King Wagamba abandoned his throne and left Anuradapura due to south Indian invasion. He got refuge in caves throughout the country including this Dambulla.
In 12 years time, he was able to organized and trained his army and regain the control of Anuradhapura kingdom and chase away the invaders. So during his second term, he converted all most all the rock caves, where he took refuge to Buddhist cave temples.