This incredible UNESCO World Heritage site is located in the north central part of Sri Lanka, near the town of Dambulla.

It’s a fortress/monastery complex dating from 477 AD. Although there is some debate, the accepted story is that Kashaypa, an illegitimate son of the King murdered him to ascend the throne. He then built his palace/fortress on top of a huge rock as a defence and ascended that as well. This plan worked for 20 years until he was killed and the capital moved to Anuradhapura again.

Afterwards the site became a Buddhist monastery.

The rock itself is said to be the 4th largest monolith in the world and soars 200m above the jungle below. There’s stone steps and some precarious metal ones to negotiate to the top, including a terrace halfway up with some beautiful frescoes of voluptuous semi clad women on the rock wall under an overhang. Adjacent to these paintings is an polished brick wall, on which there are written hundreds of pieces of graffiti, some from 700 AD, which eulogise the beautiful women. This just proves that men have been writing bad poems about nude girls for centuries.

Its a mystical and beautiful place, and we spent half a day wandering around soaking in the ambience.



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