Timings : 6:00 AM
Time Required : 2 hours
Entry Fee : Foreigners: LKR 511; Locals: INR 51
Ritigala situated between Polonnaruwa and the old town of Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka is a hilly forest and a place of Buddhist worship. The monastery is named after the 40m tall Ritigala trees in the mid slopes of the hill; this Buddhist monastery has inscriptions that date back to 1st century BC.
The highest of the peaks in the Ritigala mountain range is the Ritigala Kanda that makes for an excellent trekking adventure. A journey through the stonework bordering the streams, dense forests consisting of medicinal herbs and trees, gardens and courtyards with beautiful landscaping leads its way to the temple. Legend has it that herb called “Sansevi” found near the crest, on consumption gives eternal life. It is also an ancient legend that these mountains once hosted Hanuman and Sita on their expedition from Sri Lanka to India. Like this, there is so much of history and archaeological study associated with Ritigala.
The common characteristics of a Buddhist temple are Bodhi trees and stupas. Ritigala however, is a class apart. Monks in Ritigala don’t practise traditional Buddhism, their clothing (repaired rags and shrouds), detachment from the world and their sincere yearning for enlightenment is what makes this place all the more austere. The fact that the concept of worship in an off-beaten track existed in the 2nd-century minds speaks volumes of the calming effect that Ritigala has.
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