Cave II (Maharaja Viharaya)


The Temple of the Great King is arguably the most spectacular of the caves. It measures 52m from east to west and 23m from the entrance to the back wall; the highest point of the ceiling is 7m. This cave is named after the two statues of kings it contains. There is a painted wooden statue of Valagamba on the left as you enter, and another statue further inside of Nissanka Malla.

The cave’s main Buddha statue, which appears to have once been covered in gold leaf, is situated under a makara torana (archway decorated with dragons), with the right hand raised in abhaya mudra (pose conveying protection). Hindu deities are also represented. The vessel inside the cave collects water that constantly drips from the ceiling of the temple – even during droughts – which is used for sacred rituals.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Dambulla attractions

1. Cave III (Maha Alut Viharaya)

0.01 MILES

This cave, the New Great Temple, was said to have been converted from a storeroom in the 18th century by King Kirti Sri Rajasinghe of Kandy, one of the…

2. Cave I (Devaraja Viharaya)

0.01 MILES

The first cave, the Temple of the King of the Gods, has a 15m-long reclining Buddha. Ananda, the Buddha’s loyal disciple, and other seated Buddhas are…

3. Cave IV (Pachima Viharaya)

0.02 MILES

The relatively small Western Cave is not the most westerly cave – that position belongs to Cave V. The central Buddha figure is seated under a makara…

4. Cave V (Devana Alut Viharaya)

0.03 MILES

This newer cave was once used as a storehouse, but it’s now called the Second New Temple. It features a reclining Buddha; Hindu deities, including…

5. Cave Temples

0.04 MILES

The beautiful Royal Rock Temple complex sits about 160m above the road in the southern part of Dambulla. Five separate caves contain about 150 absolutely…

6. Golden Temple

0.23 MILES

At the foot of the cave temples hill stands this modern temple, a kitschy structure and Buddhist museum completed in 2000 using Japanese donations. On top…

7. Museum of Wall Paintings

0.34 MILES

The English-language displays here are a good primer on Sri Lankan wall art – from cave paintings to 18th-century frescoes – but the poor reproductions…

8. Dambulla Produce Market

0.53 MILES

Even if you’re not looking to buy a truckload of bananas, this huge wholesale market south of the centre offers a fascinating look at the vast range of…