Being Sri Lanka’s most popular historic site, it dates back to the 1st century B.C., as a centre of pilgrimage for Buddhists and also Hindus for about 22 centuries. It holds fame as the largest antique painted surface in the world as the walls are covered with meticulous, 2000 year old murals depicting the life and times of Lord Buddha along with a collection of 157 statues of Buddha in various sizes and poses, including a 15m long reclining Buddha. As pilgrims and tourists climb up barefoot the sloping ground and several series of stairs almost to the summit, 100m above the plain, there views a spot of multiple images of Lord Buddha, either lying, standing or seated along with the five caves and shrine rooms. These astounding frescoes and the abrupt size and the antiquity of the caves persuaded UNESCO that Dambulla is a must to be preserved as a World Heritage Site.
The Temple of the Great King, the largest and the most monumental of the caves, are enclosed with a patchwork of frescoes, easy to be overwhelmed. Though these stunning paintings were originally done by Kandyan artists during the 17th century, it’s not possible to date the Dambulla paintings definitely, since they have been over-painted throughout centuries. Despite of the life and times of Lord Buddha, there also shows up paintings of Jataka tales, battles and important events in the Sri Lankan history. While this impressive cave temple highlights the Sinhalese Buddhist art it is a must to say that Dambulla is an astonishing destination ever to witness.