Ramayana Sites in Sri Lanka
Many Ramayana sites are traditional Hindu places of worship, such as the highly respected Tamil Kovil Munneshvaram near Chilaw, others are rediscovered ancient Hindu and Ramayana places such as the Sita Amman Kovil at the Ashoka Vatika. Many more Ramayana sites are listed as "Ramayana trail" places. The Ramayana Trail is a spiritual journey along stop overs at places connected to Ramayana episodes, places that were honoured by the presence of Lord Rama and Lord Hanuman in particular. Even more Ramayana sites are those places where Sita Devi was hidden by Ravana or comforted by Lord Hanuman or rescued by Lord Rama.
List of Ramayana Trail sites in different regions of Sri Lanka
The following list of Sri Lanka's Ramayana sites is sorted by regions. The list begins with the highest valley in the central highlands, because it is the surroundings of Nuwara Eliya, where most important events took place in the Ashoka Vatika, now identified with the Sita Amman Kovil in Sita Eliya (Seetha Eliya).
Afterwards Ramyana sites in other higland regions, then in the southern and western lowlands and last not least in the Tamil areas in the north and west of the island will be described.
Ramayana Sites in Sri Lanka
Nuwara Eliya, region of the Ashoka Vatika
Gayatri Pitam in Nuwara Eliya
Gayathri Pitam, also spelled Gayaththri Peedam, inside Nuwara Eliya town is the first and foremost temple built for Gayathri Amman in Sri Lanka, Gayatri being an aspect of Saraswati and the Universal Mother. The temple was founded by the Gayathri Siddhar Swami Murusegu. The Shiva Lingam for this Tamil temple was brought from the Holy River Narmada. Gayathri Pitam is said to be the place from where King Ravana's son Meghanath propitiated Lord Shiva with penance and worship and in turn was granted super natural powers by the mighty god.
Sita Amman Temple and Ashoka Vatika in Sita Eliya
The Sita Amman Temple, located halfway between the highland village Sita Eliya and the Hakgala Botanical Gardens, has become the most venerated of all Ramayana Trail sites in Sri Lanka, because it is believed to be the place where Sita spent most of the time during her captivity on the island of Lanka. After she refused to stay in Ravana's magnificent palace she was transferred to Ashoka Vatika or Ashoka Vana where she lived under Ashoka trees. It was here that Ravana's wife Mandodari visited her and that Hanuman met her for the first time, identifying himself with the finger ring of Rama. Sita is said to have bathed in the nearby stream. There are remarkable holes in the rocks at the river bank believed to be footprints of Lord Hamunan.
Hakgala with Botanical Gardens
Hakgala rock surmounts the Hakgala Botanical gardens, only a few kilometres away from the Ashoka Vatika. It is sometimes told that Hakgala rock is one of the pieces of the Himalayas that fell down when Hanuman carried Mount Dronagiri to Lanka. But usually the Ramayana Trail identifies only 5 other places as originating from these events, viz. Rumassala near Galle, Dolukanda in Hiripitiya, Ritigala near Habarana, Thalladi close to Mannar, and Kachchativu island.DivurumpolaDivurumpola is said to be the location where Sita underwent the famous fire ordeal Agni Pariksha, in order to prove her chastity. From the flames arose the fire god Agni who was invoked by Sita. He lifted her from the flames unharmed and presented her to Lord Rama who explained this test was only necessary to prove the truth of her purity and innocence to everybody else, as he himself never doubted Sita's faithfulness. Divurumpola is said to have been the location of this episode, because the Sinhalese name means a ‘marketplace of oath’. Today the temple is respected as a suitable place for oaths that shall be helpful settling disputes between parties.
Divurumpola place of Agni Pariksha
Divurumpola is said to be the location where Sita underwent the famous fire ordeal Agni Pariksha, in order to prove her chastity. From the flames arose the fire god Agni who was invoked by Sita. He lifted her from the flames unharmed and presented her to Lord Rama who explained this test was only necessary to prove the truth of her purity and innocence to everybody else, as he himself never doubted Sita's faithfulness. Divurumpola is said to have been the location of this episode, because the Sinhalese name means a ‘marketplace of oath’. Today the temple is respected as a suitable place for oaths that shall be helpful settling disputes between parties.
Gavagala east of Nuwara Eliya
Gavagala is located east of Nuwara Eliya at the road to Walapane. It is told that King Ravana had his dairy farm here. Milk was airlifted to the capital Lankapura from here using Vimanas as aircrafts. The stone pillars in Gavagala show marks cast by constant use of tying ropes on them.KondagalaKondagala, also known as Kondakalai, is one of the many villages in Sri Lanka believed to derive its name from the Ramayana. When King Ravana transferred Sitadevi in his chariot to Ashoka Vatika her hair got deranged because of the speed of the chariot. Konda kalai in tamil means exactly this, the deranging of hair.Mani Katthuter,
Mani Katthuter at Labookellie tea estate
Mani Katthuter (locally better known as Mani Kattitheri) is a small and flat rock boulder on top of a hill belonging to Labookellie tea estate. It is believed that Lord Hanuman, after meeting Sitadevi, rested on this hill top on his way back to Lord Rama with the happy news of finding his missed consort. Nowadays an open temple with statues of Lord Rama, Sita, Lakshmana and Hanuman stands on top of the outcrop. Locals visit the holy place frequently. The hill can be seen from the mainroad between Nuwara Eliya and Kandy. This highly attractive landscape is believed to be the setting of many Sundara Kanda episodes.
Sri Bhakta Hanuman Temple in Ramboda
The Sri Lankan branch of the Chinmaya mission trust, commited to promoting the Ramayana philosophy as well as Ramayana Trail pilgrimages in particular, has built a temple with Hanuman as the presiding deity in Ramboda at the Kandy to Nuwara Eliya mainroad. There is a new five metres tall granite statue of Lord Hanuman as the central icon worshipped in the temple. Rama's devote supporter Hanuman is believed to have started his searching for Sita in the surrounding hills. Swami Chinmayananda during his visit of Sri Lanka felt Hanuman energy at this spot later on purchased by the Chinmaya mission. Hanuman traditionally was not as popular among Sri Lankan Tamil devotees (as he indeed is in India), because he devastated parts of the island with his burning tail. But in recent times Hindu missionaries and local Tamil spiritual leaders began building shrines for worshipping Hanuman in Sri Lanka, too. The Tamil word for Ramboda, Rampadai, means "Rama's force", this is why Ramboda is believed the area where Rama collected his troops.
Sita Pokuna near Pussellawa
The summit of the mountain next to Pussallawa is the site where Lord Hanuman first set his foot on Lanka. Close to Pusselawa there is barren piece of land in the jungle called Sita Pokuna, also known as Sita Tear Pond. Remarkably no vegetation except grass grows on this piece of land which is surrounded by dense forest. Sita Pokuna is one of the many places believed to have been, at times, an abode of Sita during her captivity in Lanka, namely when Ravana transferred her from his palace to Ashoka Vatika. Thereby Sita Pokuna is a stopover on the so-called Chariot Path. Pokuna is a Sinhalese word for pond. Local folklore tells that the pond dried up after departure of Sitadevi from this site.
Ravana Goda in Kotmale valley
The Kotmale valley area opposite to the Ramboda hills is another place where Sita is said to have stayed during her transit from Ravana's or Mandodari's palace to the Ashoka Vatika. Ravana Goda is one of the caves believed to belong to an underground network of tunnels in Ravana's kingdom. The main cave entrance was closed because of a landslide in 1947. Locals believe this part of the complex was used as a prison by Ravana. The cave cave until now has not been fully explored.
Kandy, region of Buddhist and Hindu traditions
Lankatilaka Buddhist temple with Vibhishana shrine
Lankatilaka (or Lankathilaka) is the most splended of the three remaining temples from the Gampola period in the 14th century. A charakteristic feature of the architectural design of this Buddhist temple is its concinnity, integrating 5 chapels for Hindu deities in an ambulatory around the main shrine under the same roof. The venerated gods are Vishnu in his Lankan appearance as Upulvan, Skanda as Kataragama, Saman protecting the sacred mountain Siri Pada, and Pattini, the Sinhalese version of the Tamil Kannaki. The fifth god is Vibhishana, Ravana's younger brother, who supported Rama and after Ravana's death became his successor as king of Lanka.
Knuckles Range, region of the Battle of Lanka
Rattota in Matale District
Rattota east of Matale is the gateway to the Riverston pass, sometimes called Sri Lanka's second Horton Plains. The Riverston area is crowded with places which recently became linked to the Ramayana in promotion of the so-called Ramayana Trail. Rattota is home to one of the very few Hindu temples in Sri Lanka dedicated to Lord Rama, whereas most Tamil temples on the island first and foremost honour Shiva or one of his family members. To be more precise: There is another Rama temple in Colombo, built during recent years by the Mumbai based Chinmaya mission, and some small local shrines in the tea plantation areas are dedicated to Lord Rama, too. But the Kovil in Rattota is Sri Lanka's only bigger Rama temple with a local tradition of Rama worship.
Yudaganawa in Wasgamuwa National Park
The Ramayana Trail legend has it that Yudaganawa (also called Yudaganapitiya) was the arena for the final battle between Rama and Ravana. It is said that the destruction caused by this war is the reason why this piece of land can never bear any vegetation again. Similar to Ussangoda in the deep south, Yudaganawa in Wasgamuwa National Park has a rocky and serpentine soil. This kind of soil contains high concentrations of poisonous heavy metals. Only few plant species tolerate these metals. (Many tour operators mix up the Yudaganawa barren land in Wagamuwa National Park with the more famous Yudaganawa excavation area near Buttala in the south of the island, where the huge Buddhist Kinkine Vehera is situated. But this southern Yudaganawa at the A4 mainroad is not at all a barren land and it is located far away from the other Ramayana trail sites connected with the final battle between Lord Rama and King Ravana.)
Dunuvila near Riverston
Dunuvila on the outskirts of Wasgamuwa National Park is sometimes spelled Dunuwila, Dunuvila, or Dunuwilla. It is said to have been the place from where Lord Rama fired the deadly Brahmasthram weapon at King Ravana. The reason for this identification is: "Dunu" means arrow and "Vila" means Lake. So it is explained that this place got its name because Lord Rama fired his arrow from this lake.
Lakgala peak of Knuckles Range
Laggala near Dunuvila is another place in the northeastern area of the Highlands which in recent times became associated with the Ramayana, because the name Laggala or Lakgala or Lakegala is derived form the Sinhala term Elakke Gala meaning "target rock". Laggala is said to have served as a watchtower for king Ravana's army, and from Laggala Lord Rama's army was sighted by Ravana's soldiers for the first time. Not only the beginning of the war of Lanka is associated with Laggala, but even more its final fight. The top of Laggala is flat, this is believed to have resulted from being hit by the Brahmasthram weapon after Lord Rama had fired it from Dunuvila killing the target Ravana on this rock. YahangalaYahangala means bedrock. The Ramayana Trail legend interprets this name in the following way: King Ravana's dead body was kept upon this rock for his fellow countrymen to allow them to pay their last respects to their departed highly respected king. There is another local legend giving an alternative version of the meaning of Yahangala telling Ravana did not really die but only became unconscious. His body remains hidden in the rock, laid on his left side. In 2012 he was supposed to turn to right side. And one day he will wake up again.
Gurulupotha at the eastern foot of Knuckles Range
Gurulupotha is believed to have served as an aircraft repair center in the capital city of King Ravana, because the Sinhalese name Gurulupotha means "birds' parts". In Valmiki's depiction of King Ravana's Pushpaka Vimana, the "flowery vehicle" resembled a cloud. But is also believed to have had the shape of a huge peacock, and was therefore called Dandu Monara, "flying peacock". But sometimes the Pushpaka Vimana and the Dandu Monara are said to have been different kinds of prehistoric aircrafts used by Ravana.
Sita Kotuwa in the jungles near Gurulupota
Sita Kotuwa is situated close to Gurulupotha, Hasalaka. It is a beautiful remote spot, surrounded by streams and waterfalls and limestone caves and abundant flora and fauna, where ruins of a typical forest monastery from the late Anuradhapura centuries (7th to 10th century) can be visited. But the name Sita Kotuwa meaning "Sita's fortress" connects it to the Ramayana Trail. The area is said to have been the beautiful palace of queen Mandothari. Sitadevi was held captive in this palace until she was moved to Ashoka Vatika. Sita Kotuwa means Sita's fortress.
Weragantota at the Mahaweli river opposite Mahiyangana
Weragantota means "place of aircraft landing" in Sinhala. It is believed to be the airport where Sitadevi landed after she was abducted to Lanka in King Ravana's Pushpaka Vimana. In the surrounding area, now covered by jungle, once was the location of Ravana's city Lankapura. According to the Ramayana Trail legend the city had a beautiful palace for queen Mandothari or was even the capital Lanka, residence of king Ravana.
Bandarawela, region of Sita's hideouts
Ishtripura Caves near Welimada
The Sinhalese word Ishtripura or Shtripura means "area of women". It is said that Ravana shifted Sita to this cave as a precautionary measure after Lord Hanuman's advent on Lanka. Legend has it that Sitadevi took a bath in the nearby stream and afterwards dried her hair sitting on a rock and put clips to her hair, hence this rock is known as Konda Kattu Gala, Konda means hair, and Kattu are clips.
Ravana Ella in the Ella Gap
The Ravana Ella Falls and the Ravana Ella Cave are located close to the Wellawaya mainroad in the famous valley called Ella gap, only about 6 kms away from the town of Ella well known for its splendid views to the Ella gap. The cascading waterfall measures about 25 metres. It is believed that Sita bathed in a pool that accumulated the water falling from this waterfall. The nearby Ravana Ella cave is quite small, only 50 metres long. As in the case of Ishthripura Cave in Welimada, legend has it that it was used by King Rawana to hide princess Sita. It is believed to belong to a network of tunnels also connecting it to the Dova temple and to all the palaces and airports and dairy farms of king Ravana. Archaeological findings in the Ravana Ella cave include a human skull dating back to 20,000 BC.
Pathala Lok on Horton Plains
Pathala Lok, though literally meaning netherworld or even underworld, is an elevated plateau in 2000 metres hight. It is better known by its English name Horton Plains, World's End being its abrupt southern precipise. This high plain is believed to be the area where Ahiravan had captured and hidden both Lord Rama and Lakshmana. Later on Lord Hanuman by assuming his five-headed form, Panchamuga, was able to rescue them and to carry them back on his shoulders. His opponent Ahiravan, also called Ahiravana or Mahiravan, was the king of Pathala.
Dova cave temple
The Dova ancient rock temple next to the Bandarawela - Badulla mainroad is one of the significant rock temples in Uva province. Dova is believed to have served as a refuge of the famous king Walagambha in the first century BC. On the rear side of the Buddhist cave temples and image houses there is a small stupa inside a cave. This stupa marks the entrance, now locked, to a tunnel which is said to be 11 kms long and leading to the Ravana Ella cave and to be a part of an underground network of tunnels already built by Lanka's legendary king Ravana.
Deep South, region of Kataragama
Kataragama Hindu, Buddhist and Muslim pilgrimage site
The famous Kataragama pilgrimage site with its shrine for Lord Murugan is linked to the Ramayana Trail legend, too Lord Indra is said to have given him orders to join the battle at the last day of the war to protect Lord Rama from the powerful wrath of Lanka's demon king Ravana.
Kirinda beach near Yala National Park
According to the Sinhales tradition the temple of the Kirinda marks the place where princess Viharamaha Devi landed after her father, the king of Kelaniya, set her adrift on a golden vessel. Later on she became the consort of Sri Lanka's most famous king Duthugemunu. The Ramayana Trail legend tells that Seetha was kept captive here. Ravana’s administrative capital was Ravana Kotte. This is identified as the Basses reefs southeast of Kirinda. Though the palace is sunk in the sea some parts of it are said to be seen sometimes during low tides.
Ussangoda at the south coast
Ussangoda is a strange coastal area because of its lack of trees. Its serpentine rock contains toxic heavy metalls. Only specific smaller plants were able to adapt to this soil. But according to the Ramayana legends there are two more explanation for the baldness of Ussangoda. After meeting Sitadevi Lord Hanuman provoked the mighty King Ravana and his army of Rakshasas. It resulted in Lord Hanuman's tail being set on fire by Rakshasas. Hanuman in turn went on to torch parts of King Ravana's empire with his burning tail. Ussangoda is said to be one of these burnt areas. Besides the Ramayana Trail legend has it that earlier on the Ussangoda plateau was used as an airport by King Ravana for his Dandumonara peacock chariot, before Hanuman devastated the landing site.
Rumassala promontory of Unawatuna
Rumassala hill 3 kms east of Galle is the landmark of Unawatuna beach because of the picturesque white Buddhist dagoba on top of it. Rumassala rock is one of the five Sri Lankan spots believed to originate from parts of Mount Dronagiri. They fell down when Hanuman carried the Dronagiri on his flight back to Lanka in order to use its Sanjiwani herb to rescue Lakhshmana and Rama who were in need of this medical plant to be reanimated after suffering severe injuries. Rumassala is also said to be an abode of Sita during her stay in Lanka.
Seenigama island at the south-western tip of Sri Lanka
Seenigama is a small village on the south-west coast close to Hikkaduwa, Sri Lanka's most popular beach resort for coral reef snorkeling. The Seenigama temple is situated on a very small island. This Devale is dedicated to the local god Devol Deviyo, who protects fishermen and their boats. The Ramayana trail legend has it that Seenigama was the landing place from where Sugriva, king of the Varanas and leading their monkey armee, launched his onslaught on Ravana's demon armee.
Avissawela, city with suburb Sitawaka
Sitawaka historical suburb of Avissawela
Sitawaka is a suburb of Avissawela at the river banks of the Kelani Ganga. In the 16th century it was a capital during the reign of king Rajasingha I. Legend has it that Sita was imprisoned by Ravana in a nearby grove, hence the name Sitawaka. A shocking episode is believed to have taken place here, too. In order to shatter Lord Rama's confidence to regain his consort Sita, Ravana's eldest son Indrajith beheaded a look-alike of Sita in front of Lord Hanuman. Furthermore there is a stone in the Sitawaka area called Rampathagala with one footprint believed to be left by Lord Rama himself.
Colombo, city of traditional and modern Tamil temples
Vibhishana Devale in Kelaniya
Besides the famous Buddhist temple is a Vibhishana shrine in Kelaniya. After Ravana's death Rama appointed Vibhishana as the new king of Lanka. Vibhishana is venerated by Sinhalese Buddhists as a god, they believe him to be one of the main protectors of the island, of the western territories in particular.
Panchamuga Anjaneyar Kovil in Kalubowila at Dehiwala
Hanuman is often called Anjaneyar by Tamils, as his mother's name is Anjan. This kovil is the first Anjaneyar temple in Sri Lanka and the only one on the island dedicated to Lord Hanuman in his Panchamuga form, this means: with five faces. And it is said to be the only temple in the world to have a chariot for Anjaneyar. Its chariot festival is held annually end of December or begin of January, it is a popular procession in Sri Lanka's capital Colombo. Visitors are advised to wash hands and feet before entering temple and not to cross hands inside the temple.
Chilaw and North-West, places of Rama's devotion to Shiva
Munneshwaram Kovil east of Chilaw
The Munneshwaram Kovil close to Chilaw is one of the 5 major Shiva temples of Sri Lanka and Rameshwaram islands, called Ishwarams. According to a Tamil legend, the temple is situated at a place where king Rama prayed to Shiva after committing the worst crime according to Hindu Dharma, namely Brahmahasti, the killing of a priest, as Ravana who had to be killed by Rama in order to liberate Sita, was of Brahmin caste. Rama stopped the Vimana vehicle at Munneshwaram because of his impression the Doshana sin was not following him at this place. So he ascended from the vimana and prayed to God Shiva asking for a remedy. Shiva advised Rama to install four lingams at Manavari, Trinco, Mannar and Rameshwaram for this purpose.
Manavari north of Chilaw
Manavari, about 6 kms north of Chilaw, is the first place where Lord Rama installed a Lingam, as a remedy to Lord Shiva after commiting Brahmincide by killing king Ravana who was a Brahmin. This Shiva Lingam in Manavari is called Ramalingam because it was made by Lord Rama. There are only two Lingams in the world named after Lord Rama, the other one being that of Rameshwaram in India.
Dolukanda in Kurunegala District
Dolukanda is a table mountain rock 20 kms north of the district's capital Kurunegala, close to Hiripitiya village. During the war with Ravana's army of demons both Lord Rama and Lakshmana were seriously wounded by powerful arrows and fell unconscious, Lord Hanuman was instructed to fetch life saving herbs only growing in the Himalayas. Hanuman carried a whole mountain range to Lanka, to be sure not to have left behind some of the life saving herbs. Parts from that piece of the Himalayas fell on five places in Lanka. Dolukanda in Hiripitiya, north of Kurunegala, is believed to be one of them. This legend explains the abundance of Ayurvedic herbs in this area, which was one reason to build the nearby ancient forest monastery called Arankale which during the Anuradhapura period served as a healing centre, too.
Mannar island and coast, region of Rama Setu
Ketheeshwaram near Mannar
King Ravana's wife Manthodari is believed to have been from this town, and her father is said to have built the temple.
Thalladi opposite Mannar Island
Thalladi, a marshland rich in bird life close to Mannar town, is not situated on the Mannar island but on the Sri Lankan mainland, just on the opposite site of the bridge to Mannar. Thus, it marks the eastern end of Rama Setu, the legendary bridge supposed to be built by Rama and Hanuman and the Vanara army in order to reach the island of Lanka by connecting Rameshvaram island with Mannar island. In particular, Thalladi is also believed to originate from Hanuman's flight with Dronagiri mountain to Lanka when parts of it fell down on the way. Hanuman had been sent to Himalayas to fetch medicinal herbs, but he had forgotton the name of the herb, as one variant of the story goes, and this is why he carried a whole chunk of the peak containing the herbs to Lanka. A mountain fragment slipped and broke into five pieces, the Sanjivani drops, nowadays identified with Thalladi at Mannar, Kachchativu island, Ritigala hills, Dolukanda in Kurunegala district, and Rumassala rock near Galle.
Jaffna peninsula, region of Hindu traditions
Nilawari giant well in Puttur
Nilawari, also spelled Nilavarai, is located in Puttur 14 kms northeast of Jaffna town. Nilawari is popular among locals and Ramayana Trail pilgrims for its giant natural underground water well of unknown depth. The water is a little bit salty, but drinkable. The well never dries up, not even during severe droughts. It is told that when Lord Rama's army entered Lanka they took positions on different sides. The army situated in the northern dry zone faced a severe water crisis. But Lord Rama shot a magic arrow into the ground and water sprung out immediately. Another version of the legend has it that the arrow was shot by Hanuman to satisfy the thirst of Rama.
Kachchativu island in the Palk Street
Kachchativu is a small island in the middle of the Palk Strait, halfway between Jaffna and India's Rameshwaram. It is one of the spots associated with the much-loved story of Hanuman carrying through the air a part of the Himalayas to Lanka in order to cure Rama and Lakshmana from otherwise never-healing wounds. Only special herbs from the Himalayas could help, but Hanuman had forgotten their complicated names when he arrived in the Himalaya mountains, so he took a whole mountain back to Lanka. But on the way he lost some parts of it. So one of these rocks fallen down from the air is Kachchativu island.
Trincomalee, region of Ravana's deeds
Thiru Koneshwaram in Trincomalee
Thiru Koneshwaram, lovely located on a rock promontory of Trincomalee, was built by Rishi Agastya on the instructions of Lord Shiva who was impressed by the devotion of King Ravana. This place is unique in this respect, the Lord building a temple for his devotee as a reward for his devotion. Lord Rama is believed to have offered his prayers here, too, in order to get rid of the malediction of killing Ravana who was a Brahmin, meaning Brahmahasthi Dosham.
Vilundri on the way to Trincomalee
Vil means bow, and Undri means resting. This is why the Tamil name of this place, Vilundri, is believed to have been a spot where Lord Rama, with his consort Sita returning home to Ayodhya, stopped on his way to Thiru Koneshwaram and rested with his bow on the ground.
Kanniyai hot springs
The hot wells of Kanniyai or Kanniya are close to the mainroad to Anuradhapura, only 10 kms away from Trincomalee town. Pilgrims believe in the Kanniyai springs' healing power. There are many different versions of the myth how these curative hot water wells came into existence, most of them are connected to Ravana. One legend about Kanniyai's origin has it, that this is the place where King Ravana carried out the last rites for his mother. When he was unable to find water in order to duly perform the rites, he in anger pierced his Trishula into the ground seven times. Water started gushing out immediately. The very hot water cooled down to the present degree when Ravana's anger calmed down. The temperature of the water is different in all of the seven wells.
Cultural Triangle, region of antiquities
Ritigala botanical sanctuary
Ritigala is the highest range of hills in Sri Lanka's so-called Cultural Triangle, which was the core region of the ancient and medieval Sinhalese civilization. In Ritigala there was one of the most important monasteries of austere forest monks. It also served as a pilgrim's place and had a hospital for Ayurvedic treatment, because the Ritigala hills are famous for their abundance of medical plants. Legend has it that the cause for this is: Ritigala wass a part of Mount Dronagiri. When Lakshmana was severely injured by Indrajit during the battle on Lanka, Hanuman was sent to fetch the life-restoring Sanjivani plant from the Himalayas. But when Hanuman realized that he was unable to find this herb in time, he lifted the whole Dronagiri and brought it to Lanka flying through the air, but on the way he lost some parts of it, Ritigala being one of these so-called Sanjivani drops.
Isurumuniya in Anuradhapura
The Isurumuniya Viharaya, a rock temple in the southern outskirts of Anuradhapura, probably was a place of worship already before the advent of Buddhism on the island. Isurumuniya is well-known for its variety of stone carvings and for their artistic quality. One enigmatic rock-cut sculpture depicts a resting person with the head of a horse behind his shoulder, a unique subject in Sri Lanka's art. It is commonly called "Man and Horse" because of the uncertainty of its interpretation. Some regard it as the South Indian god Ayanar, others as Parjanya, a personification of the rain cloud. But the Ramayana Trail interpretation of this rock carving identifies the depicted man as Ravana's father, Rishi Visravasmuni, with his white horse, and Isurumuniya as a temple built by Ravana in commemoration of his beloved parents.
Palustya statue at Polonnaruwa
Situated in the southern outskirts of the medieval Sri Lankan capital Polonnaruwa there is a famous rock-cut sculpture of excellent quality. Its correct interpretation is still under discussion. Most Sinhalese regard it as a portrait of Polonnaruwa's historically most important king Parakramabahu. But the sacred thread running from the left shoulder across the body as well as the Ola leaf book carried in the hands are typical for Brahmin scholars. Some suggest the sculpture to depict Rishi Kapila or Rishi Agastya. But most probably it is Rishi Pulastya, called Pulatthi in Pali or Pulasthi by locals. He is the name-giving patron of this city Polonnaruwa which during ancient times was called Pulatthinagara. Pulastya was the grandfather of Lanka's king Ravana.
Naguliya cave in Sigiriya
In the rock garden area of Sigiriya there is the Cobra Hooded Cave. It is a rock-shelter surmounted by a boulder in the form of a cobra hood. It is one of the many spots believed to have been a place of Sita's captivity on Lanka. An inscription mentioning a Naguliya Lena is said to be a proof for this interpretation: Naguliya is identified with Sita as allegedly both names can have the same meaning "born from a furrow", because "Naguliya" could be derived from the words for snakes and for plough. But historians believe Naguliya to be the name of a local chieftain who donated the cave to the Buddhist order.According to the Ramayana Trail legend even the ancient rock fortress Sigiriya itself is claimed to have been a palace of Ravana, because historically it is connected to the cult of Kuwera. Kuwera (Kubera) was the step brother of Ravana, and Ravana became his successor as king of Lanka.
Batticaloa District, region of Pada Yatra
Amarnthakali Kovil near Batticaloa
Shri Mamangeshwarar Kovil in Amarnthakali, or Amirthakally, 6 kms away from Batticaloa, is a well-known holy place for Hindus, who believe that bathing in the sacred water of Mamangeshwarar tank will improve the rebirth conditions for their deceased relatives. Besides the main temple for Kali Amman there are shrines for Lord Shiva and Lord Ganesha. Amarnthakali furthermore is believed to be the site where Lord Rama and his consort Sita and his brother Lakshmana took their first meal after the war. The so-called Old or Hanuman Lake is said to have extinguished the fire set on Lord Hanuman's tail.
We hope this list of Ramayana sites in Sri Lanka can serve as an inspration for planning a spiritual on the beautiful island honoured by the visit of Lord Rama.