Dambulla Cave Temples
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Cave of the Great Kings
The Buddhist temple complex of Dambulla consists of five cave temples carved under a very large overhanging rock. The temples were carved out over several centuries, but the oldest dates back to the 1st century B.C.E. The temples include numerous carved statues of Buddha, and his faithful disciple Ananda, as well as Hindu deities. The largest of the caves is known as the Maharaja Vihara Lena, or Cave of the Great Kings, so named because the cave contains the statues of two ancient, great Sri Lankan kings—Valagambahu and Nissankamalla. Fifty or so Buddha statues, including a life-sized granite one, are all contained inside the temple as is small stupa surrounded by eleven seated Buddhas. The cave walls and ceiling are entirely painted with paintings depicting early Buddhist historical events and murals with traditional Buddhist designs. Like all the other cave temples, this one is dimly lit, preserving the vibrant colors of the paintings and murals. Another unusual feature of this particular cave temple is the large metal bowl that was placed inside the cave centuries ago, presumably to catch rain dripping from the cave roof. It's said that even in a severe drought, the water in the bowl does not dry up. Dambulla is one of the UNESCO World Heritage sites located in the region known as Sri Lanka's Cultural Triangle. If you ever go to Sri Lanka, you must go to Dambulla. It is a very unique and spectacular site!
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