Thursday, September 10, 2015

Dambulla 10.9.15

After a Sri Lankan breakfast comprising string hoppers & 3 curries (dahl, coconut & chicken ), and a small pot of coffee I strolled about 800m north to the Golden Temple - not to be confused with the one in Amritsar in India! - and the Rock or Cave Temple complex (entry fee 1500Rp or AUD $15; no charge for Sri Lankans). The Golden Temple, completed in 2000, is a kitsch structure with a gigantic seated golden Buddha sitting on top - purported, sadly, on an attached plaque to be "the World's Largest Buddha Statue". Once past the Golden Temple, after climbing the hillside and checking your shoes in to be minded (cost = 25Rp), you reach the five cave temples. The caves contain 100s of superb Buddha statues and paintings, some of which are apparently more than 2000 years old. The view from the caves across the surrounding countryside is excellent.

I also took the opportunity to visit the nearby Dambulla Museum (260 Rp - 13 times what the locals are charged) which displayed, in a number of rooms, the history of painting in Sri Lanka - from cave painting to 18th century art work. To be honest, I could have quite happily given it a miss. The guidebook suggested that staff were "keen to show you around" - well, not on my visit. The ticket-seller on the front desk, who rushed inside from doing something in the museum grounds, seemed surprised when I arrived, just after midday, and I had the strong sense that I was the first visitor for the day, if not the month. The museum attendant, who did get up to turn the lights on when I arrived, didn't say anything other than to point the way out when I asked if there was anything else to be seen. I felt I was somehow interrupting her peace and quiet.

The Golden Buddha 

The garish Golden Temple

Statues of monks lining up outside the Golden Temple

View from the Cave Temples 

The Cave or Rock Temple complex

inside one of the temples


Bill Weir said...


Hi David,
Welcome to Dambulla! I too visited the Dambulla Museum, so maybe you were the second tourist to go there this month. Also went in the Golden Temple Museum under the giant Buddha, not a must-see, but only Rs. 100. The cave temples are, of course, the town's great sight.

Yesterday I arrived on the east coast near splendid Kalkudah Beach. Today I made a short ride south to Batticaloa, a little town surrounded by lagoons. A policeman pointed out a crocodile in a lagoon who seemed to be slowly swimming straight for my guesthouse!

Sigiriya is a great place, maybe worth visiting once despite the silly $30 admission. Polonnarua might be out of your way; it is similar to Anuradnapura but not as old.

There's a sacred rock pinnacle, Pidurangala, just 1.5 kilometers north of Sigiriya. I climbed it, a tough rock scramble at the end, then great views.

I got a couple e-mails from Felix about his plans, which he will fill you in on.

From here I continue riding south as far as I can, until blocked by national parks in the southeastern corner.

Happy Trails,

david w said...

Hi Bill, Nice to hear from you. .. I've been wondering how/where you were as you've not updated your blog for a bit. My plan is to cycle to Sigiriya ($30!) & then to Polonnaruwa & probably Matale from there. ..Enjoy your riding!

Gary said...

Hi David,

Sounds like your health has improved. Enjoying your travelogue and looking forward to future instalments. Keep up the cadence.

Cheers Gary

david w said...

Thanks Gary.. I'll keep them coming for the next 2 weeks. Lungs still making a rasping sound so I'm having to minimise any activities that involve heavy breathing....