Mystical Ritigala



Deep inside a Strict Nature Reserve are the sprawling, jungle-covered ruins of an extensive monastic and cave complex. The broken stone structures, fallen carvings and once-sacred caves lie on a 766m hill, a striking feature that looms above the dry central flatlands of Sri Lanka. It was a place of refuge as long ago as the 4th century BC and also has mythological status. It’s claimed to be the spot from which the Hindu monkey god Hanuman leapt to India to tell Rama that he had discovered where his wife Sita was being held by the king of Lanka.

Monks found the caves ideal for an ascetic existence, and more than 70 have been discovered. Royals proved generous patrons, especially King Sena I, who in the 9th century made an endowment of a monastery to the pamsukulika (rag robes) monks. With the exception of a few broken granite Buddha statues in a number of caves…

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