Dabulla

History

The area is thought to be inhabited from as early as the 7th to 3rd century BC. Statues and paintings in these caves date back to the 1st century BC. But the paintings and statues were repaired and repainted in the 11th, 12th, and 18th century AD. The caves in the city provided refuge to King Valagamba (also called Vattagamini Abhaya) in his 14 year long exile from the Anuradapura kingdom. Buddhist monks meditating in the caves of Dambulla at that time provided the exiled king protection from his enemies. When King Valagamba returned to the throne at Anuradapura kingdom in the 1st century BC, he had a magnificent rock temple built at Dambulla in gratitude to the monks in Dambulla. At the Ibbankatuwa Prehistoric burial site near Dhambulla, prehistoric (2700 years old) human skeletons were found on scientific analysis to give evidence of civilisations in this area long before the arrival of Buddhism in Sri Lanka. Evidence of ancient people living on agriculture have been detected in this area for over 2700 years according to archaeological findings. (750 BC) It was earlier known as Dhamballai. This was ruled by Kings like Raja Raja Chola, Rajendra Chola, etc. during their tenure in the late 10th century and early 11th century..

Temples in caves of the hill

We arrived to Dambulla, which is in Central province of Sri Lanka. Dambulla is a part of the Cultural Triangle declared by UNESCO, it lies on the main road from Sigiriya to Kandy, which is around 19 kilometers from Sigiriya. Dambula temple with its five sanctuaries, is the best-preserved cave-temple in Sri Lanka. The Buddhist mural paintings covering about 2,100 m2 and there are more than 157 statues of Buddha First we climbed to 160 metres high hill. This hill has over 80 caves. Five of the caves have built temples. In front of the entrance stood a shoe's stall, where they were saving your shoes. In Buddhistic temples is forbidden to wear shoes. Parking place for your shoes costs 25 rupees for pair. When we got out of the temple we saw the men who capt our shoes, and he accurately memorized, which of the shoes belong to every one of us. The Temple is combined from five caves with stone frontages, in which we can find statues of Buddha and pictures. Sanctuary is really nice, but I must say that Buddhistic sanctuary's can be a little bit boring because inside they don't have anything else with the exception of images of Buddha. Buddha images otherwise in different positions (standing, sitting, lying, meditating, teaching or he does something third and has over his head the flame of enlightening or he is without the flame). Our tourist guide told us an interesting story about sitting Buddha: a woman sat on Buddhas lap, to have a picture, so with that action she dishonoured the statue, and they had to paint sitting Buddha again.

Architecture

The brick wall which runs along the moat and Bogambara lake is known as water waves wall. Holes in this wall are build to light coconut oil lamps. The main entrance gates which lies over the moat is called Mahawahalkada. At the foot of Mahawahalkada steps there is a Sandakada pahana (moonstone) which is carved in Kandyan architectural style. Mahawahalkada was totally destroyed in a 1998 bomb blast and rebuilt afterwards along with sandakada pahana other stone carvings.Elephants are depicted in stone on the either sides of the entrance. A Makara Torana and two guardian stones are placed on -top of the staircase. Hewisi drummers' chamber is situated in front of the main shrine. The two storeys of main shrine are known as "Palle malaya" (lower floor) and "Udu malaya" (upper floor) or "Weda hitina maligawa". The doors of the Weda Hitana Maligawa are carved in ivory. The actual chamber which the tooth relic is kept is known as the "Handun kunama". The golden canopy built in 1987 over the main shrine and the golden fence which encircles the main shrine are other notable features. The tooth relic is encased in seven golden caskets which engraved with precious gemstones. The caskets have a shape of a stupa. The Procession casket which is used during the Esala Perahera is also displayed in the same chamber





Conservation at the Dambulla Temple Complex has primarily concentrated on the preservation of its mural schemes. Senake Bandaranayake reports that the schemes were cleaned during an initial conservation project during the 1960s which involved the cleaning of the murals and the application of a protective coating. Subsequent conservation strategies at the Dambulla Temple Complex (mainly since 1982) have focussed on maintaining the integrity of the existing complex which has remained unaltered since the reconstruction the temple veranda in the 1930s. This strategy was agreed during a collaborative project between UNESCO, The Cultural Triangle Project of Sri Lanka and the Temple Authorities of Dambulla which ran from 1982-1996. As the Dambulla Temple remains an active ritual centre, the conservation plans of the 1982-1996 project were directed at improving the infrastructure and accessibility of the site in accordance with its UNESCO world heritage status. This involved the renovation of hand-cut paving within the complex and the installation of modern lighting. Further investment in the Temple's infrastructure has seen the construction of a museum and other tourist facilities located away from the historical complex. More recent inspections by UNESCO in 2003 have proposed an expansion to the existing protected zone around the complex in order to minimise damage to surrounding archaeological features.


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