For a change, the shrieking sound of the alarm did not disturb me. The birds chripped, the peahens called and I woke-up as the rays of sunlight passed through the ornamental window shades. Srilankan string hoppers, pol sambola, idli, a plate full of fresh tropical fruits and a kettle full of Ceylon tea awaited us for breakfast and after happily treating our tummies to the deliciousness of this vast morning spread we were out to explore the Cave Temples of Dambulla.
Getting to the Temple of Relics
A 5 minutes ride from the resort and we were at the ticket counter for the caves. A point to note here, the entry to the temple and the ticket counter are different.So if you are taking an auto, please get yourselves dropped at the ticket counter. 10USD for SAARC nationals and we began our climb.
A small climb (approx 500 steps)compared to what we did at Sigiriya the previous day. Took us roughly 20 minutes and we were at the top. The prayer flags fluttering against a bright blue morning sky was such a calming sight and since it was 8:30 in the morning , the place was less crowded. We left our shoes to the shopkeeper paying him 25 rupees per pair and proceeded into the cave temple.
A Dream Come True
The first sight of the Bodhi tree, the caves and the monks – my happiness knew no bounds. I say friends and their influences, but “the photographer” and a few dear ones says it’s me, the monk in the making. 🙂
Back to the story, yet again I was in a place that I dreamt of several times. Despite an early start, we were profusely sweating owing to the high humidity. We sat down for a few minutes to get some rest and sip some water. A poor kitten, from no where came down to sit on my lap rubbing her cheeks on my calves amidst some soft purring, begging to be petted. Did she know my affinity towards cats???
Seek, And You Shall Find
I hurried my way quickly to enter the caves and in doing so I failed to notice a wasp and stepped on it only to get my toe stung. So, keep a watch while you wander in Dambulla and Sigiriya. Warning fellow visitors , ignoring the pain and irritation, I stepped into the first of the five caves to see an enormous statue of reclining Buddha. Standing at the feet of the Lord, I offered my prayers,with my eyes closed.
I sensed calmness settling over my mind as I opened my eyes and I made progress to the next cave.It was filled to the brim with statues of Buddha smiling at you and staring at you in some places 🙂
A total of 153 Buddha statues spread over 5 dimly lit caves. That was more than enough to be drenched in Buddhism!Every inch of the roof and the walls were painted and the colors were intact.
While the roof had a uniform geometric pattern, the walls had murals depicting stories from the lore days.Was painting such intricate designs a form of meditation for the monks who lived there? The jaw dropping intricacy in the designs and attention to details amazed the seeker in me.
Peace and tranquility filled my mind. The smell of the burning incense sticks and flowers eased my senses.I came out of the caves beaming with heart full of happiness.
I sat down along the thamarai thadakam (lotus pond), let myself soak in the beauty of the place as the prayer flags around the Bodhi tree fluttered in the morning breeze.
I asked myself when am I going to visit this place again?Oh, the after affects of falling in love with a place! And, in all this, the wasp sting and the pain on my toes was comfortably forgotten.
As we made our descend down along the rocky stairs looking at the beautiful sight of the Dambulla town in distance, the Firangipani flowers blooming everywhere and the wild cactus spread along the pathway down bearing colorful flowers, we reached the Golden temple where a huge Buddha statue fully painted in golden is erected.
Craning our neck, we clicked a few pictures and skipped the temple museum due to lack of time.
For one last time in the temple, I folded my hands, bowed and offered a small prayer.Onward we moved,to the hilly town Kandy.
Things To Know and Not To Miss
1.Wear full clothes covering your hand and legs.Carry a shawl or a sarong otherwise to cover your hands or drape it around.
2. Visit the Dambulla caves either during the early hours in the morning or after 3. If you are doing Sigiriya in the morning, keep Dambulla for the evening or the next morning.
3.The ticket counter is far off from the entrance to the Golden Temple. You will have to walk a good 1.5km to reach the ticket counter. So if you are seeking route from the locals, ask for the cave temple ticket counter.
4. You are allowed to click pictures inside the cave,but only of the relics. Do not pose inside the caves.
5. Beware of wasps and monkeys. They are there everywhere.Your travel companions.
6. Don’t let time ruin your visit. Plan. Make time to soak yourself in the beauty of relics smiling at you.