Dambulla and the Golden Buddah Temple

by Kelly

Dambulla was meant to be just an ordinary stop over town. I did not expect much other than a cave temple…and we have seen many cave temples. It very quickly became so much more than we expected! It really ended up being one of our most adventurous nights in Sri Lanka!

The Dambulla Golden Buddah Temple:

The draw card to Dambulla is the Dambulla Golden Buddah Temple. When you arrive at the site the giant Buddah looms large in the sky. If you walk up from the car park there is a Hela Bojun food place. These are the best places to get traditional food, really cheap! Each item is individually priced starting at about 20 rupees. Mike loved the fish cakes and I was obsessed with a banana cake like thing but I have no idea what it is called! Definitely get your lunch here.

When you head in there is a giant tiger and above that a giant Buddah. The stairs between the tigers paws lead to the Buddhist museum, it costs 200 rupees to get in. To the right there is 2 sets of stairs leading up, we took the one to the left. These stairs head up and up past the golden Buddah. The views from near him is pretty brilliant.

Golden Buddah Dambulla

Unfortunately we got to the top and discovered that we were supposed to buy a ticket at the bottom. You can not get in to the cave temple without it. So we enjoyed the views and the walk but didn’t get to go in. It was slightly disappointing so if you want to enter, get the ticket at the bottom!

After heading back down we went across to the right side and there were more steps heading up, this led to the giant Buddah. You will literally but right underneath it and it is massive from there! There are also monkeys running around it, you will need to take your shoes off here too.

Mike resting at the base of the Golden Buddah
Statues at Golden Temple Dambulla

What happened next at Dambulla Golden Buddah Temple

Now after exploring the Dambulla Golden Buddah Temple (or not) we headed back to our accommodation (info below) to relax before working out our next move. We got talking to the owner of the homestay who recommended heading to the lake for sunset, there was to be a small hill to climb with a Buddah and the views were meant to be lovely.

Great, Mike had a beer to take to watch the sunset and off we went to the lake. This is when Dambulla went from stopover town to the most crazy night we had in Sri Lanka!

Finding the lake

We found the lake and saw locals swimming there. An older man came over and started trying to chat with us, we tried to find out where the hill was that we had been told about. After some miscommunications his son in law came over. He was a little standoffish but as normally happens Mike spoke to him and about 5 minutes later they were best friends. We chatted to his wife and her family when they came up from swimming, and 5 minutes later we were invited to dinner at their house. That was it, we were off following them to their home! Their house was lovely but what was more special were the people in it. The man and his wife were very kind and his mother and little sister were very sweet.

The evening gets interesting

We were taken into town for them to buy some food on a hectic race around to different shops. Although we begged them to let us buy something for them we were told that we would upset them if we did and they wanted to care for us. We visited their in laws, and finally returned back for dinner. We got to watch how it was made and when we sat down to a massive spread of food I was told this is not dinner just ‘bites for drinking’. Surveying the table I was slightly concerned about how much there was to eat, knowing dinner was still coming. Fried up split peas, chicken pieces, fried garlic were all delicious! Following this was rice and curry, some of the best I have ever had.

The men drank and the women taught me about life in Sri Lanka, the dress code, Buddhism and celebrations. We all headed to the lounge room where the boys had started listening to music…loudly! The next hour was spent singing Shaggy songs at the top of our lungs and being told we were now family.

Time to head off!

We left at around midnight and the man insisted on following us to our accommodation to make sure we got there safely. The next morning we headed back there to say thank you and goodbye. They were so sweet and made us stay for tea before heading off.

This night will always be remembered with fondness. They were such lovely people who couldn’t do more to make us feel at home, both in their home and their country.

If you are lucky enough to be invited into someone’s home please accept if you feel confident to do so. This family were so kind, always saying they didn’t want money and would ‘sponsor us’. When we went to the shops we insisted on buying the chicken he wanted so that we had contributed something to their home. A small gesture like this was appreciated and helped them to understand we also did not want anything but friendship from them.

I still haven’t climbed that hill to see the view from there, a must do on our next visit to our Sri Lankan family!

Other things that you can do in Dambulla:

Food Market

Across from the temple is a market, you could head in and wander through but it is actually crazy. There are so many people, trucks and it is just full on!

Jathika Namal Uyana – Quartz Mountain:

You can head here, the charge is 500 rupees for foreigners. It is a really pretty forest and then the rose quartz mountain, we didn’t get to go but I would definitely next time!

Where to stay in Dambulla:

We stayed at Niduwari Lake Homestay which was awesome. It was clean and tidy, there was a lovely garden to relax in and the breakfast was great! The price was really cheap and it was located just out of town in a quiet area near the lake.

Where to eat in Dambulla:

There is a Mango Mango in town but it is nowhere near as good as the one at Anuradhapura. Still it is the best option, unless you are lucky enough to be invited into a locals home!

Where to next:

Ultimate self drive Sri Lanka itinerary

Sri Lanka Travel Guide

Mirissa Beach – all the best bits!

Best way to spend one day in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka

Pidurangala Rock, Sri Lanka – The ultimate guide!

What to do in Sigiriya when you don’t climb Sigiriya Rock in Sri Lanka

Why Theva Residency is the best hotel in Kandy, Sri Lanka

Nuwara Eliya – home of tea plantations Sri Lanka

Lime & Co Kaba – perfect beach hotel in Sri Lanka

Midigama & Kabalana – two perfect little beach towns you should visit

Gluten Free in Sri Lanka

Tuk tuk hire Sri Lanka – Renting and driving a tuk tuk around Sri Lanka!

Your go to Sri Lanka packing list

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1 comment

Jayme January 25, 2021 - 1:44 pm

Thanks for finally talking about > Sri Lanka: Dambulla –
full of surprises. – Passport Nomads < Liked it!


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