Dambulla Cave Temple is one of the most important sacred sites in Sri Lanka, so it attracts a great number of both tourists and pilgrims. It took us about two hours on the bus to reach Dambulla from Kandy (we took the regular kind), so be prepared for a bit of a trek. The entrance fee was a bit more expensive than we had originally imagined, but I thought it was well worth it. Once we passed the tacky golden statues of deities that I assume they added in recent years, we began to climb the steps leading to the complex of five caves, located under a massive overhanging rock. The interior provided much needed relief from the scorching sun, as the actual caves were cool and quiet. The lighting pretty dim, which I guess helped protect the art inside. And the art, oh my. Seeing the elaborate murals on the walls and ceiling, as well as the array of Buddha statues in various positions was definitely worth every rupee. Once we got out, we stopped to admire the beautiful natural surroundings and a couple of playful monkeys that were running around out in the open.
There’s also a paintings museum nearby – just ask someone to point you in the right way!