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Caves and Caverns (Monastic)

Caves and Caverns with Buddhist Monastic heritage and Ancient Inscriptions discovered in Caves are listed under this category.

Image Houses inside caves are from the hill country and low country regions of the Kandy, Kegalle and Kurunegala districts. As the name implies, these image houses need to be in a geographical setting where natural caves exist and have been adapted for human habitation. A characteristic of such shrines is a natural cave with a drip-ledge that has been traditionally carved at the top edge from ancient times.

The construction of a stupa within a cave is a phenomenon that could have originated from very early times. A fine example of this is at Hindagala, where one cave is dedicated to the stupa. There are other instances as at Dambulla, where the cave is occupied by a stupa and several images in different postures. The many caves in Ajanta and Ellora could also have inspired this concept. The exterior of such a cave shrine followed the normal principles of a drip-ledge and a tile-roofed porch to enter the cave.

(Heritage Buildings of Sri Lanka 2009, NIMAL DE SILVA & D.P. CHANDRASEKARA. P:11)

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