Dambulla

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Dambulla
(Sk.)
The name of a huge rock in Ceylon. It is about 400 feet above the level of the sea. Its upper portion is excavated, and several large cave‐temples, or Vihâras, are cut out of the solid rock, all of these being of pre‐ Christian date. They are considered as the best‐ preserved antiquities in the island. The North side of the rock is vertical and quite inaccessible, but on the South side, about 150 feet from its summit, its huge overhanging granite mass has been fashioned into a platform with a row of large cave‐temples excavated in the surrounding walls—evidently at an enormous sacrifice of labour and money. Two Vihâras may he mentioned out of the many: the Maha Râja Vihâra, 172 ft. in length and 75 in breadth, in which there are upwards of fifty figures of Buddha, most of them larger than life and all formed from the solid rock. A well has been dug out at the foot of the central Dâgoba and from a fissure in the rock there constantly drips into it beautiful clear water which is kept for sacred purposes. In the other, the Maha Dewiyo Vihâra, there is to be seen a gigantic figure of the dead Gautama Buddha, 7 feet long, reclining on a couch and pillow cut out of solid rock like the rest. “This long, narrow and dark temple, the position and placid aspect of Buddha, together with the stillness of the place, tend to impress the beholder with the idea that he is in the chamber of death. The priest asserts . . . . that such was Buddha, and such were those (at his feet stands an attendant) who witnessed the last moments of his mortality” (Hardy’s East. Monachism). The view from Dambulla is magnificent. On the large rock platform which seems to he now more visited by very intelligent tame white monkeys than by monks, there stands a huge Bo‐Tree, one of the numerous scions from the original Bo‐ Tree under which the Lord Siddhârtha reached Nirvâna. “About 50 ft. from the summit there is a pond which, as the priests assert, is never without water.” (The Ceylon Almanac, 1834.) (TG).