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Ritigala

Located in the Cultural Triangle, Ritigala is considered to be one of the prime eco travel destinations in Sri Lanka. Boasting of an ancient forest monastery that dates back to the 1st Century BC, filled with legendary tales of folklore, coupled with the presence of endemic and rare flora and fauna, the ancient forest monastery cum mountain is a haven for the nature and history enthuse.

Best Known For

  • The strict forest reserve is famed for being one of the prime vestiges of ancient Sri Lanka, as it boasts of monuments that date back more than 2000 years and proves to be one of the best preserved of the period; of all the archaeological sites in the country.
  • Coupled with the mountain itself that is shrouded in legendary folklore of the ‘Ramayana’, along with being a pristine slice of nature, boasting of endemic flora and fauna, Ritigala is certainly a unique place.

Interesting Facts

  • The mountain of Ritigala, which contains an ancient monastery, possesses a history that goes back to ancient days.
  • According to the Indian epic ‘Ramayana’ (an ancient literary text depicting the conflict between a Sri Lankan king and an Indian king), the mountain is supposedly a part of the Himalayan mountain range that bears herbal plants.
  • Legend states that Lord Hanuman, who was a great friend of Rama, ventured to the Himalayan mountain range to bring the only herbal plant able to cure Lakshmana, the brother of Rama, as he was injured in battle against the Lankan forces.
  • As Lord Hanuman arrived to the mountain range, a frantic search for the elusive herbal plant took place, however, due to his uncertainty of the plant, Lord Hanuman decided to uproot the entire part of the mountain range to bring it over to the island of Lanka.
  • As he was arriving with the mountain in hand, parts of the mountain fell along the island, one in Rumassala and the other in Ritigala.
  • Thus the reason as to why many claim that this is just one of the few places where the herb ‘Sansevi’ is grown. However, is not confirmed, as it is believed to be guarded by the Yakkas, who are the guardian spirits of the mountain’s vegetation.
  • According to the Mahavamsa (a chronicle that depicts Sri Lankan history from the 6th Century BC), during the 3rd Century BC, under the reign of King Pandukhabaya, the mountain was known as ‘Arittha Pabbata’ and was a hermitage and a fortress for kings as well.
  • This is well evidenced by the 70 rock caves that are believed to be present along the entire mountain.
  • It was during the 1st Century BC, however, under the reign of King Lanja Tissa that the monastery was founded, along with the reservoir to complement the monks living in the forest hermitage.
  • At present, the monastery can still be seen in almost pristine condition and can be explored by many a history enthuse.
  • Boasting of intricately detailed constructions of ponds, stairways, meditational pathways and even remnants of an ayurvedic hospital, the monastery is an ancient marvel.
  • In addition to its ancient history, the entire mountain is a treasure trove of nature that is abundant in endemic flora and fauna.
  • If one is lucky, it is possible to witness wild cats and even the very rare and endemic Sri Lankan Sloth Bear.
  • Of course, this is if you are lucky and have the necessary clearance to venture far into the jungle of the mountain.

Times, Seasons and Tips

  • The ancient forest monastery and mountain is open from 8.00am to 5.00pm, however, the ideal time to visit the legendary feature of the country is during the morning hours, since it is not crowded, thus allowing for exploring the entire monastery.
  • Please keep in mind that venturing further towards the mountain and the strict natural reserve requires a permit, obtained by the relevant authorities, therefore it is best to inquire about it beforehand from the Wildlife Department and the Forest Department.
  • It is best to be equipped with necessary hiking gear, along with water and snacks, as it is quite a strenuous trek along the paved pathway.
  • Please adhere to the rules and regulations set forth by the authorities and refrain from bringing any polythene or plastic, as this is a major archaeological monument and an important nature reserve.
  • Bring along your camera too, as the place is a kaleidoscopic combination of history and nature.

Ritigala then, with its inclusion in ancient folklore and ancient historical scripture, along with the presence of abundant flora and fauna, the mountain in the Cultural Triangle is a must-visit destination for many a traveller.

Location info

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Tickets

Locals
LKR 20
Foreigners
USD 5

Tickets At

Guided Tour

Sri Lanka Day Tours

Type

Culture and Heritage

Nature and Outdoors

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