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How To Reach Dambulla
A town located in Matale, Sri Lanka’s Central Province, about 148 km northeast of Colombo, Dambulla is a hub for vegetable distribution in the country. A treasure trove of ancient monuments that attracts visitors from all across the globe, Dambulla also houses one of the largest rose quartz mountain in South Asia and an International Cricket Stadium.
With a variety of historical cave temples that are known to be amongst the best preserved ruins, most of these complexes date back to the 7th century BC, resplendent with murals and sculptures that were included over a period of time and signify the momentous architecture and flow of spiritual figurines, ranging from Lord Buddha to Lord Vishnu to Lord Ganesh. And just at a little distance from Dambulla is a pre-historic burial site called The Ibbankatuwa with over 2700-year-old human remains which depict curious evidence of settlement before the impact of the Indian Continent. Here are some of the best and easier ways to reach Dambulla.
Sri Lanka’s Bandaranaike International Airport serves the entire country and is 35 km from Colombo City, and about 113 km from Dambulla. With the airport connected to some cities of India, namely New Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Chennai and Madurai, you can book your flights on Sri Lankan Airlines, Air India, Indigo, Spicejet, and Jet Airways.
On arrival in Sri Lanka, you can travel by bus or taxi to Dambulla, in terms of pocket-friendly travel options. You can also travel by air, from Colombo to Sigiriya airport, which is about 15 km/22 mins. from Dambulla. Local airline-Cinnamon Air operates flights daily to Sigiriya and will have you there in 30 minutes. Whilst this is the fastest way to reach Dambulla, it is also steep.
One of the best ways to reach Dambulla is to take a train from Colombo Fort Station to Habarana and from there travel by cab to Dambulla. The train line (Colombo-Trincomalee) will take about 1 hour and 11 minutes to reach Habarana and cost you anything between LKR 80-270. The onward journey from Habarana by taxi will be 25 minutes or so for LKR 650-800.
If you want to explore a road trip, hire a taxi from Colombo to Dambulla which will take roughly 2 ½ hours and cover approx. 150 km distance, costing you about LKR 14000-17,800.
Before you catch a bus to go to Dambulla, you should know that there are two types of bus operators in Sri Lanka: the Sri Lanka Transport Board (SLTB or CTB) and the Private Operators. The CTB is government operated and is painted in red, while the private buses are usually white with colored stripes. With 4 fare categories to choose from – Normal, semi-luxury, luxury & super-luxury, the normal bus service is non-air conditioned with basic seating and less legroom, filled nearly to the brim. The fare is minimal comparatively but more than the fare of a 3rd class reservation on a train.
Most buses in the long-distance segment begin at the Colombo Private Terminal while most CTB buses operate from the Colombo Fort Terminal. For a journey of less than a 100 km, the usual bus fare is less than LKR 400. The journey by bus from Colombo’s Bastian Mawatha Terminal will have you in Dambulla in approx. 4 hours. Route nos. 48, 48-2, 48-3 are the best to travel in and the buses operate every 30 minutes to an hour. The bus fare is less than LKR 300.
The most convenient way of getting around in Dambulla is via Tuk Tuks, which are easily available for hire everywhere, with a wider and longer space for legroom and luggage as well. Then there are cabs to take you on a city-hopping spree. With local cab operators like Lion cabs, Taxi Sri Lanka and Taxi Dambulla, you can reserve a cab on call.
There are some companies that provide chauffeur driven vehicles or self-driven cars, for multi-city travels, with experienced drivers, and you can use the operators like Sri Lanka rent-a-car or Dambulla car rentals for hire.