As perhaps the best-preserved cave complex in Sri Lanka, the magnificent Dambulla Cave Temple is of huge interest to tourists and dedicated Buddhists alike.
The impressive rock complex stands at some 150m (490ft) above the plains surrounding it, and it is believed that the cave has been used as a temple since the first century BC, when King Valagamba took refuge here after being driven from his court. He later regained his throne and celebrated by glorifying the caves, carving them into magnificent rock temples.
There are five separate caves; between them there are about 150 images of Buddha, along with many wonderful paintings and ornate frescoes. It is the country's largest cave complex, and easily one of the most recognised - the entire cave system was declard a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1991. Each cave also has a dedication to the "Great Kings", as a direct reference to the caves' royal origin.