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Situated about 150km away from Colombo into the heart of the country you find – Dambulla, said to have been inhabited as far back as the 3rd Century BC. It is now one of the island’s most central distribution centers for local produce and as such their trade market stays open around the clock, making it an alternate type of city that doesn’t sleep. Dambulla also evokes an ancient heritage that brings in many visitors from around the world every year. It’s no wonder since Dambulla holds a 1st century BC cave temple, named by UNESCO to be a World Heritage Site.

This ancient cave and rock temple complex, situated on a 160m high rock is bound to take your breath away. Vibrant yellow, red and orange tones grace the inner caves of the temple with majestic art and sculptures you won’t find anywhere else in the world. Outside as you climb up the steep stairway to the complex you are bound to encounter monkeys that parade around the complex in packs and families, joining in spiritual journey upwards. Once you are done marveling at the work of artisans and sculptors of a bygone era, step back outside its white-walled exterior and take in the magnificent view of the countryside below you – on a clear day you are bound to see the ancient rock palace of Sigiriya – where you could visit on a day trip if you opted to stay in Dambulla.
A lesser known Dambulla secret is its 500 million year old Rose Quartz mountain range, situation in dense ironwood forest, perfect for a trek or bicycle ride. Any of the hotels you stay at will rent you bicycles and give you maps should you require it. Biodiversity and a lush reservoir also encompass Dambulla making it a unique stopover on your way around the island.
In addition to the ancient sites in Dambulla, cricket fans who head this way will be in for a treat. The Rangiri Dambulla International Cricket Stadium has been the playground for many international cricket games since 2001 – if you’re lucky you just might catch a nail biting game.

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