Where were we?
Oh yes, day 4 in Sri Lanka. We had left the gorgeous botanical garden and were making our way towards the Cultural Triangle.
About 72 km later, we stop to explore the Dambulla cave temple on a rock that towers 160 m above the surrounding plains. Though the slope of the Dambulla rock is gentle, climbing it is a task and a half for a respiratorily challenged person such as I, while my poor legs had yet to recover from the 4 and a half hour trek through the Horton Plains.. But it is worth the effort. Plus, there are monkeys. Lots and lots of frolicking, playful monkeys 🙂
Yours truly would, of course, much rather monkey-watch than appreciate a World Heritage Site!
The temple complex features five caves under a vast overhanging outcrop, the walls and ceilings of which are painted intricately with religious images following the contours of the rock. It dates back to the 1st century BC…..the architecture was embellished with gabled entrances and arched colonnades in 1938.
Inside, there are a total of 153 statues of Buddha, 3 statues of Sri Lankan kings and 4 statues of gods and goddesses. The caves are very dimly lit.
Myth has it that Ravana held Sita captive in the highlands of Lanka. Sita (the heroine from the Indian epic Ramayana) meditated on a rock and cried a river of tears. Then she dropped lotus flowers into the water, in the hope that they would make their way to her husband Rama so he could come rescue her.
It is believed that the monkey-god Hanuman was instrumental in finding her and bringing her back.
This could be the only Sita temple in the world.