According to chronicles, Dambulla was initially referred to as Jambukola or Jambukolalena. The most significant area of the city are the Dambulla Caves. It is believed that they were inhabited as early as the 3rd to the 5th century BC.
Its past is tied to the reign of King Valagamba of Anuradhapura. The interesting story unfolds that King Valagamba, the rightful successor to King Khallata Naga, his brother. The throne was usurped before King Valagamba’s accession by a general named Kammaharattaka. King Valagamaba had to defeat him claim his rightful throne. The king was not ruling for long when an invasion from the south of India took place. King Valagamaba overpowered by the invading armies, fled to the caves of Dambulla and lived in exile for nearly fourteen years. The Theras who were utilising the caves for their meditation practises provided protection for the King and his family.
After the King claimed his throne from the invaders, he graciously built a magnificent rock temple for the Theras who safeguarded him.
Dambulla also played a role during the Polonnaruwa era. When King Parakramabahu went in to battle with his enemies, he made Dambulla a military base. Later in this period, King Nishankamalla constructed a chamber where meditating monastics can consume their food.
Restaurants in Dambulla
- Bentota Bake House
- Athula Restaurant