Dating back to the 1st Century BC, the rock temple is composed of five caves, containing a total of 153 Buddha statues, 3 statues of Sri Lankan kings and 4 statues of gods and goddesses including the Hindu gods, the god Vishnu and the god Ganesh. All of the walls and ceilings are painted and they are beautifully preserved. These paintings and statues are related to Lord Buddha and his life.
Long before you make the steep hike up to the caves, the eyes of the 100 foot tall gold Buddha greet you. The statue is a recent addition, unveiled in 2001. The Buddha, known as Golden Temple, is made of concrete and bricks and is gold-plated. The complex also houses a museum and a monastery.
A word to the wise. The hike to get to the top won’t be difficult for those who are in relatively good shape, but it is pretty steep so you’ll want to wear shoes that won’t hinder you. Also, you have to check your shoes before entering the temple area. You’ll leave them with a guy who charges 25 rupees to keep an eye on them. You’ll be barefoot the entire time you are touring the caves, which might be a bit uncomfortable for some folks.
Once inside you can pay a guide who will tell you what you are looking at. The statues are impressive and ever more so, the cave paintings. Most of what you are looking at is over 2,000 years old. Impressive. And holy if you are a Buddhist.