The city of Dambulla is strategically located in the “center” of the so-called “cultural triangle” passing by Kandy-Anuradhapura-Polonnaruwa, being necessary passage point and often “basis” for those visiting Sigiriya, the sacred place for Buddhists and unavoidable site in history and Sinhalese culture.
But by itself Dambulla has enough interesting features here if you stay at least for a day, and the city itself despite not having great attractions besides Cave Temples, and being crossed by two national roads, has a cheerful wholesale fruit and vegetable market that provides a lively and colorful spectacle, with the intense movement of people and goods.
Appearing at first glance a local unimportant when visiting Dambulla, being out of the tourist routes, the market located between the bus Terminal and the Cave Temples, provides an intense and lively atmosphere. It is clearly a male territory, divided between drivers, porters, traders and sellers, who in a constant bustle buy and sell goods. The market occupies a wide area but is totally packed with trucks, vans, hand-cars… and between porters, transporting the products on the back or on the shoulders, in an intense effort that leaves dry and muscular bodies.
No one walks around here and everyone seems absorbed in his task, with a routine made from mechanical gestures. However, a strange, yet for most women and foreign, it always causes curiosity, able to stop some conversations. But an exchange of glances, always returned with a smile that is contagious and is spread by groups of men, which often compete to appear in a photograph, leaving them proud and sure with a topic of conversation for the next few minutes…
Where to stay in Dambulla:
The best option is to stay close to the Dambulla Caves Temples, which are within a reasonable distance to be made on foot from the bus terminal.
Just opposite to the temple entrance, on the other side of the road (Kandy Road), gets a yard along which are aligned parallel to the road several houses, with some of them renting rooms.
It is recommended to Gold Rock Guest House, next to the “Oasis Tourist Welfare Center” that is mentioned in tourist guides and is usually full. The Gold Rock Guest House is located in a family house where the family, occupies the top floor, with rooms for rent available on the ground floor, surrounded by a pleasant garden. The atmosphere is very nice and comfortable with family to show up very friendly and helpful, providing all the information. The rooms are good, clean and well cared. The location is great within a 2-minute walk from Temple Cave and less than 10 minutes from Dambulla Bus Terminal.
In addition to all this, the stay of two nights in Dambulla provided nice chatting with the owner of the house, an English teacher, and her daughter that was a great opportunity to learns and understand more about the culture, habits and Sinhalese traditions, which are otherwise difficult to grasp. The generosity extended to a delicious rice and curry prepared by the owner, where the delicate flavor of coconut oil marked the difference between the many “rice and curry” tasted along the stay in Sri Lanka.
Gold Rock Guest House
Address: 45, Kandy Road, Dambulla
Contact: 066 2248 114, 71 118 8958
Email: [email protected]
Room for one person with bathroom: 1000 LKR
Where to eat in Dambulla:
Near Dambulla Bus Terminal (Kandy Road) there are several options, with some restaurants opening early in the morning, with delicious coconut hopper, sweet string hoppers (lavariya) and the usual rotis, samosas and other deep-fried snacks that can also find throughout the day. In the evening, it is time for kotu and rotis. At lunchtime is not difficult to find a rice and curry, but that runs out soon, so it is not recommended to delay lunch.
Opposite the stop of private buses (Anuradhapura road) is a very recommendable restaurant with Sri Lankan food, which also provides food for takeaway.
… but the best meal was, without a doubt, a delicious homemade rice and curry at Gold Rock Guest House, that was a good example of the Sri Lanka generosity.
Internet and wi-fi:
At Kurunegala Road, close to the clock Tower, on the first floor, above an electronic shop.
Transports from Dambulla:
The Dambulla Bus Terminal is located at Kandy Road, about 10 minutes from Dambulla Cave Temples, and hence buses to Sigiriya and Kandy, among others destinations.
But if you want to go from Dambulla to Trincomalee or Colombo, you must browse to the location where private buses stop. There are many buses linking regularly the east coast and the capital and which must stop at Dambulla. This buses stop at Anuradhapura road, next to a mango tree… yes! mango tree! It seems strange but this is the reference point used by the local people. The concentration of tuk-tuk also helps to locate the place, that has no signs or shelter, but where usually are some buses stopped waiting for passengers, before continuing the trip… or some people waiting for the buses.
This private bus stop is about 700 meters from Dambulla Bus Terminal, walking north from the terminal to the Clock Tower, and then turn right and walk about 200 meters more.
For how is lodge near the Cave Temples, and wants to go to the private buses stop (Trincomalee and Colombo directions), have to walk more than 2 kilometers, which can be done on foot. But to make it easy you can catch one of the many buses that stop in front of the main entrance to the Cave Temples (no bus stand… just wait along the road) and ask for one that stops at “Clock Tower” or “private bus”. The bus ticket costs 10 LKR. A tuk-tuk costs 100 LKR.
Dambulla Population: 70,000
Dambulla elevation: 168 meters