Dambulla cave complex is the largest and best preserved cave temple complex in Sri Lanka which has highlighted Dambulla on the world tourist map. Besides the unbelievable craftsmanship, the temple has so much serenity, calmness and peace. The rock of Dambulla cave complex towers 160m over the surrounding plains and holds more than 80 documented caves. Major tourist attractions are spread over 5 caves, containing paintings and statues related to Lord Buddha and his life. Dambulla cave complex has 153 statues of Buddha, 3 statues of Sri Lankan kings and 4 statues of deities. A must visit for travellers is the largest cave in Dambulla cave complex that is about 52m from east to west, 23m from its entrance to back and 7m tall at the highest point.
It is believed that before the arrival of Buddhism in Sri Lanka, prehistoric Sri Lankans would have lived in these cave complexes as there are burial sites with human skeletons in this area about 2700 years old. The cave temples in Dambulla cave complex are stunning examples of Buddhist art. The caves are virtually a chronological history of ancient Sri Lankan art, beginning with the first cave (1st or 2nd century BC) to successive caves (the 15th or 16th century). The paintings and statuary are among the most beautiful in the world of this type. The Dambulla cave monastery is still functional and remains the best-preserved ancient edifice in Sri Lanka.