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Central Province/Sri Lanka (The Golden caves of Dambulla were occupied in very early times by Buddhist hermits. The antiquity of this place has been authenticated by the presence of pre-Christian inscriptions in Brahmi character immediately below the drip-ledge of the central cave. The shape of the letters of all the short inscriptions in Brahmi form at Dambulla is distinctly those of the first century B. C, At that time there was only one king known as Abhaya, also known as Vattagamani Abhaya (89-77B. C.). this leaves no doubt that the king Abhaya referred to in the above quoted inscription Vattagamani Abhaya. Dambulla became a popular place of residence of Buddhist monks at least from the reign of this king.
According to tradition Vattagamani Abhaya, who fled from his kingdom, Anuradhapura, when it was invaded by south Indians, was helped by the monks residing in caves like Dambulla. The Mahavamsa records that the Buddhist scriptures were first committed to writing by Buddhist monks at Aluvihara in the reign of this king. This can be taken as substantial evidence to show that great caves like Dambulla and Aluvihare in the central part of the Island were residing places of Buddhist monks during this early period and were also patronized by the kings of Anuradhapura.
There are five caves (shrine rooms) in Dambulla temple. All of these caves arc full of statues of Buddha and various personages of the Buddhist Order or History. There are 150 Buddha images in these caves. Cave No. 5 (the last in order) has no historical value as it was done in the second decade of this century. All of the other caves contain statues and paintings representing various epochs of Sinhalese sculpture and painting.The early paintings of Dambulla are believed by patterns of which resemble those of Sigiriya…)
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