Caves

Andirilena Caves, Udagama

Situated about 4km from Udagama (25km from Belihuloya towards Colombo on the Balangoda – Colombo road), the entrance to the Andirilena Caves is only about 4ft high, but once inside, it is huge.  The main cave divides into two, giving rise to several smaller caves on the way and joining together after about 500 metres.

Batadombalena Cave, Kuruwita

Batadombalena Cave is roughly the same size as the nearby Batatotalena Cave (50x60x80ft).  Like Batatotalena, it is of great historic importance due to some fascinating archaeological findings such as the skeletal remains of the prehistoric ‘Balangoda Man’ and various land and freshwater shells that have been excavated, dating back to over 28,000 BC.

To reach the cave one has to come to ‘Eknelingoda Walauwa’, situated 3km from Eratna along the Kuruwita – Eratna road.  From here you travel a further 2km to the end of the road and walk about about 1km up the hill.

Batatotalena Cave, Sudagala

Batatotalena Cave is situated at Sudagala, about 5 km away from Kuruwita (85km from Colombo on the Colombo – Badulla road).  In order to reach it, one has to walk about 400m from Sudagala to the base and then climb a further 50m to enter. It measures about 50ft in height, 60ft in width and 80ft in length. As an extra point of interest, about 30m from Batatotalena itself is an underground cave, partly submerged in a stream. To reach this, one has to swim about 20m!

Although it has not been proved, Buddhist literature suggests that the cave is the sacred ‘Diva Guhawa’ where the Lord Buddha rested on his way back from Sri Pada.  However, concrete archaeological findings have proved that Batatotalena dates back over 25,000 years and has been used as a dwelling place during many historical eras.  For example, various skeletal remains, ancient paintings, a Buddhist shrine room and a ‘Devalaya’ belonging to the Kandyan era have been excavated, whilst findings of ceramic tile and glass particles prove that it was also used as a dwelling during the Dutch era.  Even at present, a Buddhist priest
resides there!

Belilena Cave, Kitugala

Belilena is a very large cave, in which the 12,000 year old skeletal remains of the prehistoric ‘Balangoda man’ (Homesepiens Balangodensis) have been found.  In order to reach the cave you have to walk through the jungle, close to the Inoya estate (approx. 8 km from Kitulgala itself).

Pannila Calcarious Cave, Rakwana

The Pannila Calcarious Cave consists of two main caves situated about 400m from a 15m high waterfall.  A stream flows through the first cave, and about 300m in, one can see a series of smaller caves leading to the second main cave (about 500m in length).  In these caves are many stalactites and stalagmites estimated about 100 million years old, and visitors can also see a wide variety of amphibians, reptiles, fishes, butterflies, birds and bats.

Bogoda Cave, Jangulla

The Bogoda Cave is thought to have been used by the Sri Lankan King Walagamba as one of his many hide-outs from the invading South Indians.  It is considered to be part of a complex ‘tunnel network’ of other hide-outs such as the Narangala mountain cave, Dowa rock temple at Bandarawela and Rawana Ella cave in Ella.  However this story cannot be proved because at present, the cave only leads about 15m into the tunnel through a narrow passage.

Rawana Ella Cave, Ella

The Rawana Ella Cave is located about 2 km from the picturesque town of Ella. It is quite a small cave, measuring about 50ft wide, 150ft long and 60ft high.  However, once inside one can find several others that run 20 to 40 ft deep into its walls.  Like the Sthripura Cave in Welimada, legend has it that it was used by King Rawana to hide the Princess Sita.  It is also thought to be connected to the cave at the Dowa rock temple in Bandarawela (part of King Walagamba's famous 'tunnel network').  Archaeological findings include a human skull dating back to 20,000 BC.

Waulpane Cave, Pallebeda

The Waulpane Cave (aka 'Cave of Bats') is renowned for its many beautiful stalactites and stalagmites (approx. 500 million years old) as well as the hundreds of thousands of bats that live there!   It is an isolated cavern set against the eastern slopes of the Rakwana mountain range, located about a 1 ½ hr drive from Pallebedda.  Once entering the cave, you descend approx. 300 metres underground to discover this prehistoric world of ancient fossils in the cavern walls, a stream that runs through the cave and a beautiful waterfall located in the centre.  As well as the many bats, watch out for the water monitors, various amphibians and fascinating luminous fish!

Sthripura Cave, Welimada

The Sthripura Cave consists of a series of three caves, located at Kiriwanagama about 16 km from Welimada (55 Km from Belihuloya).  According to the legend, King Rawana of Sri Lanka use the caves to hide the beautiful princess Sita,
whom he abducted after defeating her husband, Prince Rama of India.

Southern Highlands

Several ancient caves are found in the Southern Highlands, near Ella, Bandarawela, Belihuloya, Balangoda, and Welimada.

Bogoda Cave: According to legend, the Bogoda cave was used by King Walagamba as one of his many hideouts from the invading south Indian forces.  This cave is considered to be part of an extensive ‘tunnel network’ which includes the Narangala mountain cave, Dowa rock temple at Bandarawela and Rawana Ella cave in Ella. However, this ancient legend is yet to be proven since the Bogoda cave only leads about 15m into the tunnel through a narrow passage.

Sthripura Cave: Consisting of a series of three caves, the Sthripura Cave is associated with the ancient epic of Ramayana and is believed to be one of the sites where King Rawana of Sri Lanka held captive princess Sita whom he abducted after defeating her husband, Prince Rama of India.  The cave is located at Kiriwanagama about 16 km from Welimada. The distance from Belihul Oya is 55 kms.

Rawana Ella Cave: Situated 2 kms from Ella town, the Rawana Ella cave is also associated with the Ramayana Epic and is considered to be a site where King Rawana hid Princess Sita.  The cave is connected to the Dowa rock temple in Bandarawela. It is also believed to be a part of the 'tunnel network' used by King Walagaba.  The cave measures about 50ft wide, 150ft long and 60ft high.  Once inside the cave, there are several others that run 20 to 40 ft deep into its walls.

Sabaragamuva Province
There are several ancient caves in this area of which the Belilena Caves, about 8 kms from Kitulgala, is of greatest archaeological significance. This is where the skeletal remains of the pre-historic `Balangoda Man’ and several other fossils were discovered.

Andirilena Caves: Situated nearby Udugama, the Andirilena Caves with an entrance only 4 ft high, extends up to about 500m into the hills through several inter-connecting caves. Andirilena caves are situated 4 kms from Udugama. Distance from Belihuloya is 25 kms on the Balangoda – Colombo road.

Batatotalena Cave: This adventurous cave sight is accessed by walking about 400 metres from Sudagala to the base and then climbing another 50 metres to the entrance of the cave which extends about 25m.  Buddhist literature suggests that this cave is the sacred `Diva Guhawa’ where Lord Buddha rested on his return from Sri Pada. Studies date this cave back more than 20,000 years and excavations have revealed skeletal remains, ancient paintings and a Buddhist shrine room.

Batadombalena Cave: Significant prehistoric remains have also been found in this cave, situated nearby Batatotalena Cave in Kuruwita.

Belilena Cave: Famed for the discovery of 12,000 year old skeletal remains of the pre-historic ‘Balangoda man’ (Homesapiens Balangodenis), this extensive cave is also of great significance.  It’s damp, dark depths are now home to thousands of bats and butterflies.  Belilena Cave is reached through the wilderness in Kitulgala close to the Ing Oya Rubber estate.  The distance from Kitulgala is about 8 kms.

Pannila Calcarious Caves: Consisting of two main caves which are joined by a stream, the Pannila Calcarious Caves possess many stalactites and stalagmites which are estimated to be about 100 million years old.  The caves are inhabited by a variety of amphibians, reptiles, fish, butterflies, birds and bats. The cave site is located 400m from a 15m high waterfall. About 300m into the first cave, there are a number of smaller caves leading to the second main cave which is about 500m in length.  
 
Waulpane Cave: Known as the `cave of bats’, Waulpane is famous for its beautiful stalactites and stalagmites dating back 500 million years.  Set against the eastern slopes of Rakwana Mountain Range, this cave is located about 1.5 hours from Pallebedda.  Upon entering the cave, a 300m underground descent reveals a pre-historic world with ancient fossils in the cavern walls.  A stream running through the cave feeds the stunning waterfall located towards the centre.  The dark, moist depths of the cavern are inhabited by numerous bats, water monitors, amphibians and fish. This cave is on the list of eco adventures offered by Sri Lanka Adventures and Eco Team, probably there are even more operators. The cave is very remote and hard to find, and such operators provide the necessary equipment, so we recommend to take such a tour. If you go on your own you should bring wellingtons, helmet, headlamp, and a mask. Also an old rain coat is recommended for the bat droppings. Caving in tropic regions offers special threats to your health. This cave is a river cave and you wade through a river during most of the tour, which you would never intend to bath in. Beneath the water there are bats, which could cause diseases like histoplasmosis. The cockroaches and other insects feeding on the bat guano are not really dangerous, but probably a little disgusting. And there is the ammonia smell of the bat guano.

The Golden Temple of Dambulla

Dating back to the First Century BC, the Golden Temple of Dambulla has been the centre of pilgrimage for Buddhists and Hindus alike for 22 centuries. It is Sri Lanka’s most popular historic site. The Cave monastery, home to Buddhist monks is covered with exquisite 2,000 year-old murals depicting the life and times of the Lord Buddha. The shrines also house a collection of 157 statues of Buddha in various sizes and poses, including a 15 metre long reclining Buddha and vividly coloured frescoes on the walls and ceiling, making this the largest antique painted surface in the world.To reach Dambulla’s rock temples, pilgrims and tourists alike must climb barefoot up the sloping ground and several series of stairs almost to the summit, 100 metres above the plain. From here, the strikingly distinctive rock fortress of Sigirya is visible, but the five caves or shrine rooms of Dambulla lie just ahead. All of these house multiple images of the Lord Buddha, either lying, standing or seated. The astonishing frescoes and the sheer size and antiquity of the caves convinced UNESCO that Dambulla should be preserved as a World Heritage Site.