Dambulla is a huge rock towering 160 metres above the surrounding area. The Rock itself is more than 1.5 km around its base and the summit is at 550 m. These caves were the refuge of King Walagamba when he was in exile for 14 years. After his return to the throne in the 1st century BC, King Walagamba had a magnificent rock temple built at Dambulla.
A sacred pilgrimage site for 22 centuries, this cave monastery, with its five sanctuaries, is the largest, best-preserved cave-temple complex in Sri Lanka. The Buddhist mural paintings (covering an area of 2,100 sq. m) are of particular importance, as are the 157 statues.
Dambulla has been designated as a ? World Heritage site. The caves feature a mixture of religious and worldly paintings and sculpture. Several images of the reclining Buddha including the 15 metre long sculpture is found here. The famous paintings of the Dambulla frescos on the walls and ceiling dates back to the 15th and 18th centuries.