The highlight of the charming Dowa Temple, 6km east of Bandarawela, is a 4m-high standing Buddha cut into the rock face. The walls of the adjacent cave shrine, carved from solid rock, are covered with excellent Sri Lankan–style Buddhist murals. It's said that King Valagamba (Vattajamini Ahhya) took refuge here in the 1st century BC during his 14-year exile from Anuradhapura.
Legend also has it that a secret underground tunnel stretches from this temple all the way to Kandy. The temple, which is on the road to Badulla, is easy to miss if you’re coming by bus, so ask the bus conductor to tell you when to alight. A three-wheeler or taxi from Bandarawela should cost Rs 750 return.