Dambulla - UNESCO World Heritage Site
Dambulla cave temple also known as the Golden Temple of Dambulla was declared a World Heritage Site in 1991. Situated in the central part of the country 148 km east of Colombo and 72 km north of Kandy. It is the largest and best-preserved cave temple complex in Sri Lanka. The rock towers 160 meters over the surrounding plains. There are more than 80 documented caves in the surrounding area that has provided shelter for meditating monks from 3rd century BC. Out of the 80 caves 5 caves attract most attention as they were converted in to shrines and been renovated and maintained over the years by various rulers of the time. The 5 caves are full of statues and paintings related to lord Buddha and his life. There are total of 153 Buddha statues, 3 statues of Sri Lankan kings and 4 statues of gods and goddesses found in the complex. They latter include two statues of Hindu gods, the god Vishnu and the god Ganesh. The murals cover an area of 2,100 square meters. Depictions on the walls of the caves include the temptation by the demon Mara, and Buddha's first sermon. Prehistoric Sri Lankans would have lived in these cave complexes before the arrival of Buddhism in to Sri Lanka as there are burial sites with human skeletons about 2700 years old found in this area and at Ibbankatuwa near the Dambulla cave complexes. The view from the peak is astonishing and takes you to a serenity one would expect from a religious center.