Things to do
Dambulla is famed for its Royal Rock Temple complex, thought to date right back to the 1st century. A hike up the hill will bring you to the Golden Temple – a modern monument topped with a large, glimmering Buddha. But the real treasures are hidden within the rock face. Wind your way through a system of carved caves to see hundreds of murals, paintings, and Buddhist and Hindu sculptures.
A short journey from Dambulla will take you to Namal Uyana, a unique landscape of ironwood forests set around rose quartz mountains. The ironwood is Sri Lanka’s national tree, and the forests historically provided sanctuary to Buddhist monks. This is the place to look out for medicinal herbs and plants – and even elephants or monkeys.
This inland region’s climate means the road between Dambulla and Kandy is peppered with countless spice gardens. Stop off to learn more about the fresh, fragrant and fiery ingredients behind Sri Lankan cuisine – and take some home to spice up your own recipes.