As you might guess, a 2000 year old operating temple that is being built up as a tourist attraction in a far off land, like Sri Lanka, might have special considerations for visiting. We compiled our list of ten things you need to know before visiting Dambulla Cave Temples to help you have a great time in visiting one of Sri Lanka’s oldest temples and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- Wear modest clothing
- You’ll have to climb uphill to reach the temple
- Buy tickets at the lower / south entrance
- There are no services at the top
- Entrance fees
- Hours of operation
- Stay for enough time (but not too much)
- Pick a good time to visit
- The difference between Dambulla Cave Temple, Dambulla Rock Temple, and the Golden Temple
- Plan side trips
When I first heard about cave temples in Sri Lanka I was like – gotta go. We love caves and dig Buddhism. (sometimes, we dig caves too but that’s another story). When I realized that “caves” in volcanic Sri Lanka are just rock overhangs, I got a little disappointed. Even still, the Dambulla Cave Temples made a great second half of our Sigiriya Rock day.
Caves, be it limestone or rock overhangs, are the most stable spaces on Earth. They preserve a history that counts time in centuries, not decades. The Dambulla Temples are well preserved and still functioning today after nearly two thousand years of continual use. The continuity of use makes it the best preserved antiquity you’ll ever visit. As you look at our pictures, just think that these temples are over 2000 years old!
10 – Wear Modest Clothing
There is a dress code for entering temples in Sri Lanka that is similar to many temples in Southeast Asia. You can’t wear shorts and woman need to cover their shoulders. If you didn’t bring the appropriate clothes, you may be able to borrow a wrap at the entrance, but it’s best not to take chances. Take a look at Ed’s lovely purple wrap that he used to cover up his shorts.