Visitors can reach the Rock Temple through four entrances; 2 entrances from Kandy road (A-9), other from Kurunegala -Dambulla road (A-6) and the fourth from the Valagamba Pirivena. All these routes to the Rock Temple are long granite steps so that it is recommended to climb there in morning hours or in the evening Foreign visitors will have to purchase entrance tickets from the office at the entrance near the Golden Temple.
Dating back to the 1st Century BC, this is the most impressive cave temple in Sri Lanka. It has five caves under an overhanging 48 rock carved with a drip line to keep the interiors dry. Inside the caves, the ceilings are painted with religious images as well as those of various gods and goddesses.There are images of the Buddha and the Bodhisattvas. The temple has several caves which have been converted into shrine rooms. The caves were built at the base of a 150m high rock during the period of the Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa kingdoms. The famous Dambulla Cave Temples is a UNESCO World Heritage site, The Dambulla cave monastery remains the best preserved ancient edifice in Sri Lanka.
Out of the five caves, the first cave is called Devarjalena, (Cave of the Divina King). The first century Brahni inscription over the entrance to the first cave records the founding of the cave. The 14 m reclining Buddha statue in this cave has been painted many times in the course of history. The largest is the second cave and there are sixteen standing and forty seated statues of Buddha. The statues of God Saman and Vishnu in this cave are often garlanded by devotees. The other statues are of King Vatta Gamini and King Nissanka Malla and this cave in therefore named ‘Maharajalena’ (Cave of the great kings). The third cave is named as ‘Maha Aluth Viharaya’ (Great New Monastery) and there is a statue of King Keerthi Sri Rajasinha who reigned in Kandy (1747-1781). The other two are small caves.