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Dhowa Cave Temple

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English, Sinhalese


Located in the village of Dhowa lies on the Badulla – Bandarawela road, Dhowa Cave Temple (also known as Dowa Rajamaha Viharaya) is quite famous because of its 38 feet statue of lord Buddha which is sculpture on the rock and colorful paintings on the wall of shrine room. Dowa Rajamaha Viharaya is one of the mysterious and legendary temples built by king Walagamba while he was taking refuge after an Indian invasion.

History of Dhowa

According to archaeological analysts, the temple has been built in the 1st century BC, which means Dhowa Cave Temple may be over 2000 years old and it was known as the Kumbaltissa Ariyagala Vehera in those days.

Special attractions

The Image House (Gal Vihara Geya) and shrine room amalgamated into the cave and shrine room is full of beautiful paintings influenced by Kandyan art.  Several ‘Jathaka Stories’ (Folk Tales) illustrating instances from past lives of the Buddha have been depicted here. The canopy of the cave is also a beautiful sight to behold as it abounds with painting of Lotus and other flowers together with symbols of the astrological chart. Also featured along with the flowers is a graphic example of a battle between a tusker and a bull known as the “Ath-Gon Satana”.

The Image House consists of 3 chambers, with Watuka and Kuvera, two guardians of the Raksha tribe, guarding the entrance to the Shrine room. At the end of the Image House, within the cave, lies a small stupa.

There is also a tunnel behind this cave which is guarded by a figure of Clay King Cobras. The tunnel is 11-kilo meters long and it has been cemented off due to the evil acts of treasure hunters. This tunnel used to connect the Ravana Maha Viharaya at Ella and the Bogoda Raja Maha viharaya.

On a higher elevation is a Bo tree and a small pond surrounding a rock which has a natural water sprout and water keeps continuously flowing.

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  • Located in the village of Dhowa lies on the Badulla – Bandarawela road.
  • Dhowa Cave Temple may be over 2000 years old.
  • There is an incomplete Buddha statue that’s 38 ft.
  • The tunnel is what the King is said to have used as an escape route.

What you will do

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Statue Mahayana
Statue Mahayana

It also consists of a very unique sculpture named Mahayana which tells an interesting story of the previous lives of the Lord Buddha and is believed to have been carved by the king himself. It is an uncompleted statue, and the general belief is that the King left from these caves before he could conclude his work on it.

Image House (Gal Viharaya)
Image House (Gal Viharaya)

The ‘Gal Vihara Geya’ (Image House) is inside a rock cave, the interior of which rises to a height of about 12 feet. It has colorful Buddha statues and consists of 3 chambers. There are two guardians named as Watuka and Kuvera at the entrance.


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How can we reach there?
The distance from Colombo is about 210 km to the east and approximately 120 km to the south of Kandy.
how can we find accommodation?
There are many hotels in Ella.


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Distance from Colombo
210 km

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