Damn the Dambulla steps...

Trip Start Aug 07, 2013
Trip End Aug 22, 2013

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Flag of Sri Lanka  ,
Monday, August 12, 2013

The Golden Temple of Dambulla with its 5 cave temples is heralded as a site of historic and natural beauty, situated in the heart of Sri Lanka. Around a 1.5-2 hour drive from Kandy, we arrived mid morning just as the sun was hogging up...perfect timing!

Again, as with Pinnawala, ticket prices were inflated for foreigners with entry for each adult costing 2000 rupees (10), with prices around 300 rupees for nationals.

The golden Buddha at the foot of the mountain is bold and dominates the skyline but isn't beautiful or breathtaking. It borders on gaudy or tacky and is softened only by the lovely flowers dotted around its entrance and the square in front of it. 

The steps to the cave temples are to one side. Our driver Udayi said 'its a quick climb, no more than 100 steps' which turned out to be 378 steps (yes....I counted) in the baking mid day heat. With little shade, uneven steps and steps of great heights that you almost needed to use your hands on too, it turned out to be a great work out. From the top, the views were great and the clear skies allowed us to spot mountains in the distance and plenty of wildlife.

Monkeys roamed freely along the paths to the top, swinging from trees, disappearing into bins with only their tails sticking out or trying to pickpocket unsuspecting visitors for their snacks.

Heading into the first temple, we were greeted by a huge lying Buddha, the table in front swathed in fresh flowers, incense burning and people praying. The following caves had collections of Buddhas in varying sizes, each in its own style. A guide explained the meditative position of many of the Buddha statues is linked to breathing and to the flow of karma. 

After a less taxing climb down to the bottom, we stopped for lunch at Saman Rest, a small and rustic restaurant. No menu, we were offered curry and rice (always say yes to curry and rice) and were given fresh watermelon juices (and the waitress kindly noted how my face looked like a watermelon too, whilst switching on the aircon!) which quenched our thirst after the climb. 

The dishes were gorgeous- spicy chicken, rice, beans, shredded coconut, beet root salad, tomato and pineapple curry and crisp poppadoms with fresh green vegetables. Delicious, and well worth the 3000 rupees price tag (15- 2 lunches, 2 litres mineral water, 2 watermelon juices, 2 plates of fresh fruit and tip). Exactly what we needed to refuel after defeating Dambulla!
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