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Sri Lanka is an island country in the northern Indian ocean off the southern coast of the Indian subcontinent in South Asia, known as Ceylon until 1972.

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Sri Lanka shares maritime borders with India to the northwest and the Maldives to the southwest.

Dambulla Cave Temple

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Dambulla Cave Temple is Sri Lanka’s largest rock cave temple built on a 600 feet high rock. Located at an elevation of 1118 feet from the sea level rises a massive rock from the surrounding plains of Dambulla of 600 feet high and over 2000 feet in length. It is home to the Worlds most acclaimed Cave complex of splendid Buddha Images and Rock Paintings of vivid colours and shapes constructed and painted from around 2nd Century BC.

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An interesting fact is that the Archeologists state that this cave and other numerous caves around the main rock had been in use for dwelling in pre historic times, from the evidence found so far. There are a total of five caves situated in the Dambulla Cave Temple.

The Devaraja Lena – The Cave of ‘ Lord of the Gods’

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The first Cave temple is called as Devarajalena Vihara or the Lord of the Gods Temple. The large 45 feet Sleeping postured Buddha statue is said to be the Parinirvana status or the final passing away of the Lord Buddha. A statue of Venerable Ananda , who was Lord Buddha’s devoted disciple is found near the feet of the giant Sleeping Buddha statue. The God Vishnu image which is believed to be constructed during the King Vatta Gamini Abhaya ‘s rein (89-77 BC ) must have given the name Devaraja Lena.

The Maharaja Lena – The Cave of ‘ Great Kings ‘

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The cave is being called as the Maha Raja Vihara Lena or the Cave Temple of the Great Kings. The statues of King Valagamba and King Nissankamalla are to be found here. King Valagamba image is made out of Wood and the statue details are painted. It is placed near the cave entrance. There are around sixty images in this cave. The size of the cave is approximately 125 ft long and 75 feet broad and has a maximum height of 21 feet by the entrance to the cave. There is a Stupa in this temple surrounded with eleven seated Buddha images. The statues of gods found here belongs to Gods Saman, Upulvan, Maithree and Natha. This cave is the largest and the most attractive due to the large number of Buddha statues of seated, lying and standing postures that portrays samadi mudra,abhaya mudra, varada mudra and vitarka mudra. A main feature of this cave is the fascinating life size granite standing Buddha statue.

The Maha Alut Viharaya – The Cave of ‘ Great New Temple’

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It was constructed by the King Kirti Sri Rajasinha (1747-1782 AD ) who ruled in Kandy and is considered to be second only to the Maharajalena temple. There are two doorways with Dragon Arch designs to enter this cave temple. This cave measures about 90 feet in length, 80 feet in width and is about 36 feet high near the entrance wall. There is a reclining Buddha statue of 30 feet in length carved out of the living rock here. There are about fifty Buddha statues surrounding the prominent seated Buddha Statue with a Dragon Arch design constructed in the centre of the cave sculptured out of granite. There are about forty two standing Buddha images and about fifteen seated Buddha statues inside this cave. A statue of King Kirti Sri Rajasinha is also found here by the right side of the entrance. On the wall behind his statue, a wall painting of four of his attendants appear.

The Paccima Viharaya – The Cave of ‘ Western Temple’

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This Cave temple was the westernmost at the earlier times but later an additional cave was added to the west side of this cave temple. This cave measures about 50 feet in length and 27 feet in width. The main attraction is the beautiful seated Buddha image with a Makara Torana in ‘ dhyana mudra’ posture. Almost identical images of the main seated Buddha image are placed around this cave. A small Buddhist shrine which was regarded to contain the jewellery of Somawathi , the queen of King Valagamba is situated in this cave.

The Devana Alut Viharaya – The Cave of ‘ Second New Temple’

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This is the newest of the all cave temples at Dambulla and the exact construction time of this temple is not in records. The large reclined Buddha image is about 32 feet in length and there are many standing and seated Buddha images constructed in this temple totaling to eleven. Two of the seated Buddha figures have the Hooded Muchalinda Cobra covering above the images. All these statues are constructed out of Brick and plaster where most of the images at the other caves are made of granite rock.

Whenever you take a trip to Sri Lanka, The Dambulla Cave Temple should be your first stop!

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