Dambulla Royal Cave Temple and Golden Temple – Dambulla, Sri Lanka

The Rock Temple of Dambulla, known as Jumbukola Vihara (Dambulla Cave Temple) within the (Mahavamsa)-the principal Prakrit Chronicle of state, is set regarding forty-seven miles northwest of an urban centre, the last capital of the Sinhalese kings, on the most road to Anuradhapura.

The shortest method, from Colombo to Dambulla lies via Kurunegala, one among the capitals of the medieval Sinhalese kings. the opposite rock temple of equal fame, Aluvihare, where, in step with tradition, the Buddhist scriptures were initially committed to writing regarding the primary century B.C., list regarding twenty-six miles to the south on the urban centre Dambulla road. and therefore the renowned defence of Sigiriya with its lovely frescoes rises aloft sort of a mammoth cylinder at a distance of regarding twelve miles to the north-east of Dambulla. Dambulla maybe a scent of distinctive interest. Its rock temples ar the foremost in-depth within the Island, and one among the foremost ancient, and within the highest state of preservation and order. Dambulu – gala (the rock of Dambulla), during which these temples are set, is nearly insulated and of huge size. Its perpendicular height on top of the plain is regarding 600 feet. only a few elements of it are coated with wood, and normally its surface is vacant and black.


The caves of Dambulla, just like the Mihintale caves, were occupied in terribly early times by Budd¬hist hermits. The antiquity of this place has been echt by the presence of pre-Christian inscriptions in Brahmi character right away below the drip-ledge of the central cave. one among these inscriptions records: “Damarakita teraha lene Agata anagata catu disa sagas dine. Gamani robe rajiyahi karite” (The cave of the Elder Dlmamma-rakkita, given to the Community of the four quarters, gift or future. within the reign of Gamani Adhaya.) type} of the letters of all the short inscriptions in Brahmi form at Dambulla is clearly those of the primary century B. C, At that point there was just one king referred to as Abhaya, additionally referred to as Vattagamani Abhaya (89-77B. C.). this leaves little question that the king Abhaya spoken within the on top of quoted inscription Vattagamani Abhaya. Dambulla became a well-liked place of residence of Buddhist monks a minimum of from the reign of this king. Vattagamani Abhaya is one among the few kings of ancient state whose name and fame don’t seem to be addicted to the written records. To him ar attributable by the folk of the country tile various caves with drip-ledges that were abodes of Buddhist monks in ancient days. As we’ve got seen, one or 2 of those caves like Dambulla do, in fact, bear inscriptions with the royal name that is attributed to him.

According to tradition Vattagamani Abhaya, World Health Organization fled from his kingdom, Anuradhapura, once it had been invaded by south Indians, was helped by the monks residing in caves like Dambulla. The Mahavamsa records that the Buddhist scriptures were initially committed to writing by Buddhist monks at Aluvihara within the reign of this king. this may be taken as substantial proof to point out that nice caves like Dambulla and Aluvihare within the central a part of the Island were residing places of Buddhist monks throughout this early amount and were additionally patronized by the kings of Anuradhapura.

Tradition additionally has it that the 5 sitting Buddha pictures together with the principal one in Cave. No four of Dambulla temple were made from natural rock within the reign of Vattagamani Abhaya. it’s additionally believed that a number of the photographs in Cave No. a pair of and therefore the principal pictures in cave No. one were created throughout the reign of this king. As no Buddha pictures found in-state will be ascribed to the amount before the primary century A.C., no credence will be connected to the present tradition. however this doesn’t bar the chance that a minimum of a number of the photographs in these caves was created throughout the later Anuradhapura amount, i.e. throughout and when the eighth century A.C. sadly these can not be known attributable to the repairs and renovations, undertaken, in succeeding periods.

The successor of Vattagamani, Mahaculi Maha Tissa, following his uncle, spent abundant of his time on spiritual activities. One short Inscription of Dambulla refers to a king known as Gemini Tissa World Health Organization could also be known as Mahaculi Maha Tissa.

The historical records of the Island stay silent on Dambulla till the eleventh century A.D.The Culavamsa (pt. ll of the nice Chronicle) records that Vijayabahu, (1070-I110 four. C.) World Health Organization liberated the country from the Cola occupation that dominated most of the northern elements of the country for regarding, [*fr1] a century (1017-1070), rebuilt and granted villages to the present temple and its caves. it’s apparent that by this point Dambulla had become a well-liked centre of Buddhist worship.

The next king to patronize Dambulla was Nissankamalla, World Health Organization undertook regular tours everywhere the country, repeatedly mentioned in his varied inscriptions. The king, being a foreigner, most likely wished his presence felt throughout Island and additionally wanted to win in style support by distributing alms-giving throughout these tours. The king looks to own been inquisitive about visiting distinguished places like Dambulla. Kelaniya and Anuradhapura throughout these, visits, and he left a lithic record, at these places. in step with the chronicle, Nissankamalla’s fourth tour (probably the last) was to Dambulla, wherever he spent lavishly on the cave temple and created, seventy-three gilded statues of the Buddha. The inscription inscribed by this king on the rock between No. I Associate in Nursingd entrance offers an account of himself and his pious acts. within the last 2 lines of the record we discover the statement that he, caused the reclining, sitting, and standing statues (of the Buddha) within the cave of Dambulla to be gilt, celebrated a good puja at a value of seven lacs of cash and gave (the cave) the name suvarnagiri – Guha ‘the golden rock cave.’ it’s clear that from this point forwards Dambulla (Jambukola-Vihara) come back to be referred to as Suvarnagiriguha or Rangiri Dambulla.

Although it remained a renowned spiritual centre, Dambulla doesn’t appear to own received the eye of Sinhalese kings when the downfall of the Polonnaruva kingdom at the top of the twelfth century A. D. till the came into the political scene of the country within the seventeenth century. the foremost necessary issue that deeply affected each facet of the history of state throughout this era was the gradual decline and environmental condition of the northern and southeastern regions of the Island, and shifting of population centres and kingdoms. As a result, ancient spiritual centres like Dambulla were relegated to the background.

Dambulla once more came into prominence as a spiritual centre within the XVIII the century. within the Dambulu Vihara Tudaputa (a palm-left manuscript) of A. D. 1726, it’s explicit that king Senaratna (Senarat) (1604-1635 A. C.) of urban centre rebuilt and repaired the temple. The document adds, “At the completion of the repairs, that took 3 years, the king, on the competition of painting of the eyes of the photographs of the Buddha, proceeded to the temple in the midst of the 3 queens and 3 princes. when the competition was over, the king stood on the curved stepstone of prince Viharaya (cave No. 2) and known as on the monks there assembled to nominate an individual suitable to be appointed incumbent of this temple, 65 pictures of that together with the one in residing posture, had been painted and finished.” The last nice royal helper of the temple was King Kirti Sri Rajasinha (1747-1782 A. C.) beneath whose patronage Buddhism revived within the Kandyan provinces. Cave No. 3, then used as a storage space, was additional excavated on the order of this king and changed into another shrine roost. At the correct of the doorway to the present cave, there’s a well dead figure of this king, in his robes of state, that greatly gibe those worn by the kings of the Nayakkar family of the urban centre.

Guide to Dambulla Highlights

Dambulla Rock Temple

The temples, that provide this place celebrity, ar elements of a huge cavern within the side of the rock, at the peak of regarding 300 and fifty feet on top of the plain. Whet het up the cavern during which these temples ar shaped, is altogether natural, or solely partially natural, or solely partially natural and partially artificial, it’s no longer straightforward to see. The likelihood is, that it’s mainly natural, which man has had little or no to try and do in excavating it. The tradition has it that a number of the caves were excavated by king Vattagamani Abhaya within the initial century B. C. It will be surmised that this king and his successors, in benefaction to the present place had to enlarge and smoothen the caves, and cut the drip-ledge (katarama) on the rock to shield the caves from rainwater.

The Caves and Paintings of Dambulla

There are 5 caves (shrine rooms) in the Dambulla temple. All of those caves arc filled with statues of Buddha and varied personages of the Buddhist Order or History. There are one hundred fifty Buddha pictures in these caves. Cave No. five (the last in order) has no historical worth because it was tired the second decade of this century. All of the opposite caves contain statues and paintings representing varied epochs of Sinhalese sculpture and painting. Some belief the early paintings of Dambulla to belong to the eighth century A. C.. However, this can not be proved in any respect attributable to overpainting. Even so, this place may be a mine of ornamental styles, the patterns of that gibe those of Sigiriya. To a student of the history of Buddhism, a careful study of the paintings of Dambulla provides an honest deal of supply material.

It is usually accepted that the classical college of Sinhalese painting ceased to exist when the autumn of the Polonnaruve kingdom at the top of the twelfth century. There are not any existent samples of this vogue when the thirteenth century. It’s from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries that we’ve got, once again, samples of the work of a faculty of autochthonous painters.

This new college doesn’t appear to own had its roots within the inventive traditions that created the masterpieces of Sigiriya and Polonnaruva.

Its vogue is solely 2 dimensional; in compositions, it doesn’t exhibit the ability of the masters of earlier epochs. In its conventions, notably within the ornamental styles and within the illustration of trees and creepers, it doesn’t appear to own any reference to the sooner art of the Island.

This college looks to own been influenced by the faculties of painting that flourished within the Deccan (Southern India) beneath the patronage of Muslim rulers. The frescoes that adorn the cave of Dambulla represent this new college of Sinhalese painting, within the cases of this temple the entire surface of the rock is totally coated with paintings, The earliest section is believed to get on Cave No. 2, and these include ornamental styles as surmised on top of, it’s unattainable to spot anybody of those as real happiness to awfully abundant precedent days. Even so, the styles themselves show shut affinity to Sigiriya ceiling ornamentation. There could are recent painting at this place; however, maybe these are lost or are painted over later. It will be surmised that the styles of the ornamental patterns, embody ancient ideas and will even be thought of as continued tradition of the styles at Sigiriya. However, because the Dambullu Tudapata spoken on top of clearly reveals cave No. 1, a pair of and four of Dambulla were painted by the Kandyan artists of the seventeenth century by order of king Senarat (1604-1635 A.C). within the reign of Kirti Sri Rajasinha, the paintings of Dambulla were restored and overpainted once more. Paintings in Cave No. four clearly represent the new college of Sinhalese painting that flourished within the Kandyan provinces when the seventeenth century.

Cave No. 01 (Deva Raja Viharaya)

The visitant to the Temple of Dambulla through the entrance initial comes across Cave No. l, known as Dev-Raja-viharaya (temple of the King of Gods). It’s believed that this cave is thus known as, as a result of the god Sakka (King of Gods) gave the finishing touches to the principal image of this cave. This image, portraying the parinibbana (the last moment) of the Buddha within the typical vogue is regarding forty-seven feet long. It’s etched virtually within the spherical from the natural rock to that it remains joined right along from behind and is well preserved. The face is picket in look, shapeless and boring. The standard long gown covers the body up to the articulatio plana deed the correct shoulder and breast vacant. The form of the face is spherical and not artistically sculptured. The eyes are just cut, the forehead is slender, and therefore the ear is torulose. A series of dots schematically show the hair. The fine unsmooth gown is represented in an exceedingly series of closely grooved ribs that are organized close in twos. The remainder of the body is well dead in modelled proportions apart from the stiffness of the feet and right leg.

The cave contains, another 5 pictures of that the standing one at the southern finish of the. space is meant to be that of Arhat Ananda, the immediate follower of Buddha, weeping at the death of his master.

At the northern corner of the cave, opposite the face of the principal image, there’s a sculpture, of Visnu, (some students believe that this can be of Upulvan, one among the four guardian deities of Sri Lanka), that may be well dead.
The room containing this can be continuously closed to the general public for reasons unknown.

Although there ar wall and ceiling paintings during this cave, these will hardly be seen as a result of injury done by the incense burnt by devotees.

Cave No. 02 (Maha Raja Viharaya)

The next cave into that the visitant centres are far and away from the biggest and therefore the most spectacular one in every one of the cares during this place. The portal by that one enters is in front; maybe a Lofty entrance, guarded on all sides by figures of stone; supposed to represent Janitors. This cave is termed Maha Raja Viltaraya (the temple of the nice King), because. In step with the common belief, its founder was king Vattagamani Abhaya, World Health Organization in person power-assisted in its formation.

The cave is painted everywhere in good colours, and each half is in smart repair. It’s 100 and 72 feet long, cardinal in width, and twenty-one feet tall close to the—front wall. The peak from this place bit by bit decreases in Associate in Nursing arc towards the ground on the inside aspect. This cave contains fifty-three pictures. The bulk of the statues are of Buddha in numerous attitudes. Several of them are larger, however none abundant smaller than life.

The visitant World Health Organization enters by the door at the northern corner of this cave initial comes across a figure of the standing Buddha beneath a showing neatness dead Makata Torana, each sculptured out of the natural rock. this can be the principal pictures of the shrine space. This image is in Abhaya gesture. The figure is gorgeous sculptured can durable options and big limbs. No try has been created by the creative person to portray physical details in true proportion. The flowing folds of the gown ar shown by grooves. the correct shoulder and arm are vacant. The folds are gathered at the left shoulder. the pinnacle is roofed with a series of lump planted often with a crest surmounting all of them. Eyes of the photographs ar carver out with lids shown open. The lips are thick. thus is that the nose. there’s a stiffness of the limbs and a picket rigidity of the body. The image is standing on a stone lotus pedestal circular in form. This lotus is neither well-etched nor elaborate.

To the correct and left of this, there are 2 standing figures severally of 2 deities Natha and Boddhisatva, who, in step with Buddhist belief, would become Buddhas in future.
At the correct of the doorway may be a handsome stupa, regarding eighteen feet high, the broad circular pedestal of that is embellished with four figures of Buddha, every facing a unique quarter, every sitting on the coil of an elapid American state Capello, and shaded by its expanded hood.

The rest of the Buddha pictures during this cave are organized in an exceeding row at a bit distance from the edges and inner walk of tile space, however not sorted. None is placed close to the outer wall, except the one in the unerect pasture, that is kind of new at the northern finish of the cave figures are organized in an exceedingly double row.
Towards the jap finish of the shrine space there’s a perpetual dripping of water that filters through the roof from hollows on the highest of the rock, that is provided by rain. The drops of water are caught in an exceeding vessel placed in an exceedingly tiny sq. enclosure is undone within the floor and used completely for sacred functions.

  1. Prince Gautama Siddhartha, the Buddha-to-be, going out of his palace to exhibit his skills in arms.
  2. Prince Gautama Siddhartha, exhibiting his ability in sport.
  3. Prince Gautama Siddhartha, deed home, in quest of Truth.
  4. Monsters within the army of Mara, the evil one, offensive the Buddha.
  5. Mara, the evil one, being thrown from his elephant when being vanquished by the Buddha.

The whole of the inside of this cave, whether or not rock or wall, is painted with good colours of that yellow predominates. The ceiling nearest the doorway is employed largely to depict the lifetime of the Buddha, before and when his Enlightenment. during this half the creative person has additionally tried to colour the sooner births of the Buddha. A visitant to the shrine space might want to own an outline of a minimum of a number of the paintings. The principal paintings of this half are:

At the jap extremity of this cave there’s a bit recess behind the row of Buddha statues, shaped by a large sticking rock, the walls of that are coated with paint. At the doorway to the present recess, there’s a standing sculpture of a king, known as Nissankamalla World Health Organization undertook in-depth repairs to the temple. This a part of the cave looks to own been utilized by the creative person, let’s say the history of the Island. The frescoes, of this half, begin with the earliest and most lovely amount of the history of the country. Among these frescoes, the exploits or Vijaya, the primary historical ruler of the country, the World Health Organization is alleged to own come back from India, ar conspicuous and canopy a good house. The creative person looks to own been inquisitive about illustrating the voyage of this hero, a ship encircled by the sea-monsters picture that.

The next work of interest is that the dedication of the island to the Buddha when the arrival of the Bo-tree and therefore the sacred relics. this can be patterned by king Devanampiyatissa (250 210 B. C), World Health Organization dominated the country on the eve of the introduction of Buddhism to state, guiding a plough drawn by a try of Elephants, attended by monks headed by Arhat Mahinda World Health Organization introduced Buddhism to state.

Another painting here represents the building of the nice cetiyas and different necessary spiritual buildings at Anuradhapura.

The most prospering of the historical paintings during this half is that the one that represents the one combat between Duttha Gamani, the best hero of the Sinhalese and Elara, the Indian supplanter World Health Organization dominated the northern a part of the country for forty-four years. The drawing of this image is by no suggests that deficient in spirit, and is significantly additional correct within the proportions than the other of the historical compartments. The Indian king is pictured as falling from his elephant, spellbound by the javelin of his enemy.

At the northern corner of the recess, there are 2 standing statues etched out of wood. The common belief is that these figures represent deities. One is currently known in the state with Visnu, the renowned Hindu god, and pictures of this from, of Visnu, are saw aspect by aspect with those of the Buddha in an exceedingly sizable amount of temples within the Island. The other, specifically Sumana (or Saman) is meant to be one among the four guardian deities of the country. In step with the nice Chronicle, The Sanrantakuta, i. e, Adam’s Peak, wherever the Buddha was presupposed to have left his footprint, is so known as as a result of the height was considered the abode of devaraja (king of god’s) known as Sumana. Each of those figures ar well dead and painted, however, are currently in an exceedingly decaying condition.

At the northern corner of the cave, there are four Buddha pictures in a sitting posture, facing the most hall. These figures are presupposed to be those of Kakusanda, Konagama and Kassapa, the predecessors of Go Tama, The Buddha, World Health Organization is pictured by the last sculpture.

To the correct of the northern entrance to the present cave, there’s a figure in standing perspective facing the principal image of tile shrine space, that is meant to represent king Vattagamani Abhaya, the earliest helper of Dambulla. this can be the crudest figure in each respect. And its dress is the simplest and least embellished.

Cave No. 03 (Maha Alut Viharaya)

This Cave, known as Maha Alut Viharaya (The nice New Temple), is separated from Cave No.2 by a wall of masonry. this can be aforementioned to own been used as a storage space before the eighteenth century.

The principal entrance to the present cave that is second in size solely to cave No.2 is by a door. This was mode a shrine space by Kirti Sri Rajasinha, World Health Organization reformed the Buddhist Church within the eighteenth century. Most of the new paintings and renovations of the Temple ar attributed to the present last nice helper of Dambulla. At the left of the doorway to the present cave, there’s a well dead figure of this king, in his robes of state, that gibe those worn by the kings of the Nayakkar family, World Health Organization dominated the country till nation occupation in 1815.

The cave is regarding ninety feet long, 81 wide, and is shelving rock whose height is regarding 36 feet. The Brobdingnagian surface of rock of this cave is additionally painted of the richest colours. These frescoes depict varied and diverse events of Buddhists, some representing the lifetime of the Enlightened One, and score the history of Buddhism. The inventive tradition of this cave is that of the Kandyan amount.

This cave contains fifty figures of the Buddha.
The principal image, facing the doorway, maybe a standing one beneath a Torana. the photographs and therefore the Torana is etched out of the natural rock.

One sculpture of Buddha during this crumple the unerect posture, its head on a pillow, resting on its manus, is kind of almost like that in Cave No. 1. this can be regarding thirty feet long and well proportioned, the face is handsome, and its expression of countenance remarkably peaceful and benignant. Seven different statues of Buddha, within the standing perspective, ar regarding 10 feet high, and every one the remainder ar life-size or a bit smaller. Most of them are coloured bright yellow; 3 have red robes. To a student of Kandyan art and sculpture, this cave is, no doubt, a mine of stuff.

Cave No. 04 (Paschima Viharaya)

This cave is termed the Paschima Viharaya or the Western Temple. it’s regarding fifty-four feet long and twenty-seven wide; and its shelving roof, that dips quickly inwards, is regarding twenty-seven feet high.

This cave contains 10 figures of the Buddha. The principal image that is beneath a Torana, is of a similar size because of the different statues. this can be an awfully lovely figure of the Buddha sitting within the dhyana gesture (posture of meditation) hewn of the natural rock that forms the cave itself. The image is in an exceedingly fine state of preservation and painted in good colours within the Kandyan amount. The options of the image are clearly discernible. The ears are long with perforated lobes. The nose, eyes and lips ar well dead, the forehead is somewhat receding. A loosely flowing gown covers the body from shoulder to feet deed the correct shoulder vacant. the strategy of treating the gown is that the groove technique. 3 grooves mark the neck.

The robes are shown well draped and with loose folds. The hair on the pinnacle is treated with dots in rows, rising to a bread formed lump on the summit. The other pictures are in an exceeding row ranging from the correct and therefore the left of the principal image.
These figures ar well dead and brightly painted, and most of them ar massive as or larger than life-size. there’s a neat stupa (cetiya) known as Soma Cetiya at the centre of the cave. The roof and sides of the rock and therefore the front wall ar painted of the brightest colours, and adorned with a variety of figures, mainly of Buddha.

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