A luxury break in Dambulla will put you right at the centre of Sri Lanka’s ‘Cultural Triangle’ – a region dotted with sacred temples and ancient ruins. Discover vast caves, filled with a dizzying collection of sculptures. Explore the landscapes that are home to leopards, monkeys and elephants. Then return to your boutique hotel to sample regional cuisine, flavoured with spices from nearby gardens.
Captivating temples and centuries-old forests in Sri Lanka’s cultural heartland.
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.
While in Dambulla, take a trip to see the Avukana Buddha – an immense statue carved into a rock face during the 5th century.
Top tip from SLH