Ritigala and other Sanjivani drops
Sanjivani (Sanjeevini) in Hindu mythology is a magical herb with supernatural powers. Some texts claim that Sanjeevani glows in the dark. Sanjivani is believed to cure any desease. It was said that medicines prepared from is could even revive a dead person.
Sanjivani is sometimes used as a name for Selaginella bryopteris, a lithophytic plant used medicinally in India, particularly by tribal peoples. It is found more often in the Arawali Mountains than in the Himalayas. It can promote growth and serves as a protection against heat shock and against ultra violet and oxidative stress.
When Lakshmana was hit by a powerful arrow of Indrajit he fell unconscious and was nearly killed. There was another threat of danger that a distraught Rama in grieve would become unwilling to continue the fight. So Sugriva sent Hanuman to the Himalayas in order to save Laksmana’s life by fetching Sanjivani from a specific mountain. Hanuman decided to lift the whole mountain rainge, as he was unable to identify the life saving herbs alone.
According to Yuddha Kanda chapter 102 telling this episode, the name of this mountain was Mahodaya. There is a similar event narrated by Valmiki in Yuddha Kanda chapter 74. In this part of the story almost the whole monkey army and both Rama and Lakshmana, the “sons of Raghu”, were heavily wounded and would have died without the healing power of the Himalayan medicinal herb. In this case Jambavan, the leader of the bears, asked Hanuman to search for it between Kailash and Rishab.
Tradition has it that Mahodaya mountain was Mount Dronagiri (Drongiri). It is identified with the region called Dunagiri in Almora District in India’s Uttarakhand State.
According to local legends in Sri Lanka, Hanuman lost some parts of Mount Dronagiri when he flew through the air back to the battlefield. Those places on the island of Lanka where mountain chunks fell down are called “Sanjivani drops”. Usually five places in Sri Lanka are said to be such Sanjivani drops:
Kachchativu island in the very north,
Thalladi close to Mannar,
Ritigala between Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa,
Dolukanda near Arankale ancient monastery hospital,
Rumassala in Unawatuna near Galle.
Though these Sri Lankan Sanjivani drops do not harbour specific Himalayan fauna, they are places of a remarkable abundance of medicinal herbs.
The photo shows Ritigala Kanda, the most prominent example of a Sanjivani drop. At 766 m above sea level, and 600 m above the surrounding plains, Ritigala is the highest mountain north of the central higlands, a landmark of Sri Lanka's North Central Province. The massif is situated in the core of the region called Cultural Triangle, which was once the centre of the ancient Sinhalese civilization. Ritigala is mentioned in the Pali Chronicle Mahavamsa under the name Arittha Pabbata, meaning "dreadful hill". It is the area of highest rainfall (1250 mm) in Sri Lanka's dry zone, the climate at the summit is almost always cloudy and misty and cool.
There are ruins of an ancient Buddhist forest monastery at the eastern foot of the mountain, it is completely undecorated, remarkably the only exemption are artistically carved urinal stones. The hospital of this monastery may have been reserved for the monks, but probably many visitors came to visit them searching for cure from deseases, too. Since antiquity Ritigala has been famous for its abundance in plant species and medicinal herbs in particular. This is why an area of 16 square kilometres was declared a Strict Nature Reserve by the Forest and Wildlife Departments of Sri Lanka. Locals believe that all vegetation at the Ritigala massiv is protekted by Yakksha guardian spirits.
Hanuman's flights to the Himalayas
2 episodes in Valmiki's Ramayana, Yuddha Kanda (Battle of Lanka)
Ralph T. H. Griffith,
The Ramayan of Valmiki,