Twelve hours on the road. That’s how long we’d been out on this epic day trip visiting the Ancient Cities and that was before we even got to the Royal Rock Temple in Dambulla for our final stop! My wife was a bit buddha’d out so decided to sit this one out and remained in the van whilst I rushed off to explore it relatively quickly.
There were some lovely views of the surrounding countryside (below) as I hiked the 150 metres or so up to the temple. The rain was drizzling a bit as it tended to do for short periods every day whilst we were in Sri Lanka. We got quite lucky really as the forecast had predicted thundery showers for the whole of our trip!
The rock temple consists of five separate caves featuring buddha images aplenty. On top of the many we’d already seen in Polunnurawa and Sigiriya that day, it was an uncountable number starting off with a 15 metre long reclining one (above) in the first cave. The caves after that all seemed to blend into one as I saw more and more buddhas of all sizes and positions.
It cost 1500 rupees (approximately £7 or $10) to enter which would be ok if it wasn’t for the blatant discrimination as this price is only for foreigners. This was a common theme at many sights in Sri Lanka and is nothing new to me as I’ve experienced such dual pricing systems in the likes of India, Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand to name just a few. The locals pay only a small fraction of the foreigners price and it is a controversial area for many people, particularly those who have lived in such countries for years. It sure must be frustrating for them but I think it’s unfair to compare it to the UK or other western countries. Thankfully I only encounter such situations a few times each year when on holiday so don’t get too worked up about it. However, the constant asking of “donations” at these sacred places was a little annoying as it’s not really a donation when you’re pretty much forced to pay them! Anyway, I digress! Let’s get back to the caves and the buddha images as that’s what this post is all about. This really is a fantastic must-see place but on the back of a long day and so many places it would probably be forgotten if it wasn’t for having to write this post!
Amazingly, that rock temple still wasn’t the end of the buddhas as there was a slightly tacky 30 metre golden buddha (below) at the foot of the hill. Thankfully I don’t mind kitsch and in a way I was not too surprised that Japan helped fund the building of this structure less than two decades ago.
Before all that, shortly after leaving Polonnaruwa, we stopped very briefly by the side of the road to see this fairly impressive buddha statue (below) standing next to a lake.
What followed was even more breathtaking for us though not that the pictures below show it too well. Life through a lens isn’t always best and we were delighted to see some elephants in the wild and there were even a couple who made it on to the road in their quest to find food.
Rewinding back even further, we stopped off for a buffet lunch. No doubt our driver/guide was on some kind of commission to take us there but sometimes you’ve just go to go with the flow and 850 rupees ($5) was still a bargain for such a vast selection of stuff.
Click here to read ‘Sri Lanka 2017 Pt V: Colombo’