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Timings : 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM

Time Required : 3 - 4 hours

Entry Fee : LKR 1270

Mihintale, Anuradhapura, Anuradhapura Overview

Ceylon, as it was formerly known rests on a beautiful landscape down south of India; hills, beaches, valleys and waterfalls adorn this country. One such ancient marvel is the hills of Mihintale located 12 km from Anuradhapura which are known for religion, monarchy, warfare and the underlying sense of scenic diversity.

Mihintale in the Sinhalese language means Mahinda’s hill – a Buddhist monk in the 11th  century. This city was declared a wildlife sanctuary more than 2,200 years ago, making it the oldest of shelters in the world. 

Buddhism saw its conception in Sri Lanka in the rocky hills of Mihintale when King Devanampiya Tissa met monk Mahinda on the hilltop. Ever since then the Sri Lankans have had a stronghold of Buddhist teachings which was later enriched by Islam and Hinduism. They comprise of the Sinhalese, Indian Tamils, Sri Lankan Tamils and the Muslims. Their lives revolve around religious beliefs, that makes Mihintale a city with significant architecture, tranquil stupas and sanctuaries. All in all, the people hold sentiments close to their hearts and a trip to Mihintale will speak immensely about their beliefs.

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History and Religion of Mihintale

Mihintale falls under the sixteen sacred sites of Sri Lanka. The cradle of Buddhist Sinhalese civilization in their country saw its origin in the mountains. King Devanampiya Tissa was a renowned deer hunter among many of his laurels. On his hunting trip to the hills of Mihintale in pursuit of a stag, he encountered Arahath Mahinda an empowered, enlightened Buddhist monk. Mahinda was the oldest son of Mauryan emperor, King Ashoka. Just like how King Ashoka propagated Buddhism during his reign in India, similarly, his son welcomed Buddhism in Sri Lanka. King Tissa was deeply moved by Mahinda’s wisdom and that lead to the conversion of Buddhist Sinhalese from Aryan Sinhalese. The site was called Missaka Pabbata or Cetiyagiri or Sagiri.

Fauna and Flora in Mihintale

Mahinda preached to King Devanampiya Tissa about the sanctity of living beings. Hence mammals, birds and other creatures receive the utmost care and love from the Theravada Buddhists. Monkeys and birds too are lined up to welcome tourists in this part of town. Legend has it that Naga Pokuna – a pond of snakes in the past still swarms with a couple of this crawlies. Flora includes trees like Palu, Weera, Burutha (teak), Ebony and Milla.

Food and Local Restaurants in Mihintale

Chilli, jaggery, coconut, lentils and seafood are prominent in their cuisine. Wood apple which is a rare gem in most parts are seen naturally available here - hence juice and cocktails contain extracts of wood apple. Some local infamous food joints are

Ambula Anuradhapura - LKR 800 for 2 people
Rasa Gedhara - LKR 600 for 2 people
Seedevi Family restaurant - LKR 900 for 2 people
Others include Casserole restaurant, Palhena restaurant, Selgado hotel and bakery.

Shopping in Mihintale

There are no specific shops as such in Mihintale. However, locals have their small stores that are a source of their livelihood. They sell souvenirs of the ruins of Mihintale that are complete memoirs to take home along with handicrafts and jewellery of wood and batik cloths.

Architecture of Mihintale

The rocky mounds of sanctity is an architectural marvel dominated by stone carvings. Wondrous domes, stupas, rock temples, palace grounds and historic landscapes decorate the city. Mihintale Mahasaya stupa, Ambasthala Dagoba, Upper Terrace, Aradhana Gala, Naga Pokuna, Kantaka Cetiya, Stone inscriptions and the Mihintale ruins speak of the aesthetics that Mihintale captures. Primarily, stone carvings and ponds against the backdrop of the rising sun enthral visitors.

The stairway that leads to the hilltops of Mihintale has 1840 granite steps. Ruins of a square building perched at 125 feet on the hills showcase carvings, stone balustrades & guard stones. Unlike any other monastery, simplicity, elegance and grandeur can be observed all at once, in this city of fine craftsmanship.

Nature in Mihintale

This mountain range consists of three central hills - Ambastala, Rajagiri and Anaikutti. The environment around the mountain comprises of tall trees – frangipani and mango trees, shrubs along the valleys and streams lined with beds of rock. The skies are blue, and the white clouds are continually moving. The atmosphere glistened with the sun paints a beautiful picture in Mihintale. The climate is hot – warm, with maximum temperature recorded in July and the coolest in January. The temperature varies between 25° C and 31° C. Tourists swarm in, in large numbers particularly in June to celebrate Poson Poya - the day of birth of Buddhism in Sri Lanka.

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