Situated about 72km north of Kandy, Dambulla is right smack in the middle of Sri Lanka. It is most famous for the Dambulla Cave temple complex, which have also gained the status of a UNESCO World Heritage site.
It can be done as a day trip from Kandy for visitors who just want to hit the famous caves. However more visitors are choosing to stay for longer to see the many other interesting sights in the vicinity.
Here’s a taste of what is on offer in Dambulla:
1. Dambulla Cave Temples
As mentioned previously, these cave temples are the attraction that have catapulted Dambulla onto the world tourist map. They are the largest and most well preserved temple complexes in Sri Lanka. Perched high up on a hilltop, the Dambulla Cave Temples sit 160m above ground, and have more than 80 documented caves within its rocks.
Human skeletons dating up to 2700 years old can be found in the cave, leading to speculations that prehistoric human beings used to live and wander along the meandering corridors of these very caves. The cave temples also document ancient Sri Lankan art and display remarkably refined craftsmanship. The paintings and statues found here are some of the finest of their type in all the world. Although there are more than 80 caves, tourist attention is usually confined to 5 of the main caves.
2. Dambulla Produce Market
The area around Dambulla produces most of the vegetables in Sri Lanka, and the Dambulla Produce Market is where they get unloaded, traded and loaded up to be transported around Sri Lanka. The perfect place to hunt down ‘authentic Sri Lanka’, the chaos and bustle of the Dambulla Produce market showcases the amazing variety of what is grown locally in the country, as well as lets visitors observe how the locals here go about their lives.
3. Rangiri Dambulla International Stadium
Famous for being built in a mere 167 days, this huge cricket stadium seats 30,000 spectators, and is an important venue for international cricket matches. The site overlooks lovely scenery of the Dambulla Rock. Catch a match if you can, cricket is one of the most important sports in the country!
4. Ironwood Forest
Also known as Jathika Namal Uyana, the Ironwood Forest was declared a sanctuary in the 10th century A.D by King Dapulla, and is now still a very important ecological site. It offers visitors the chance to trek through deep jungle to observe the rich flora and fauna of Sri Lanka. The Sri Lankan national tree, the Naa, can also be found here. More than 102 species of tropical plants are found here, as well as a rich diversity of birds and mammals.
5. Rose Quartz Mountain
The Rose Quartz Mountain range is reputedly more than 500 millions old, and is Asia’s largest rose quartz mountain. The mountains are between 180-300m above the sea level, and hold within their stores treasures of white, rose and violet quartz. It also makes for a lovely trek, and trekkers will be rewarded with a stunning view of the surrounding countryside.