Scaling Ritigala Kanda | Sunday Observer

Scaling Ritigala Kanda

2 April, 2023

Ritigala kanda (Ritigala mountain) lying in the  Southern part of  the North Central Province bears a legendary, historical  and monastic past, unsurpassed by any other mountain retreat in Sri  Lanka.

Today, the Ritigala kanda is a sanctuary and a protected area maintained by the Department of  Forest Conservation.

It is the highest peak rising from great central plain of Sri Lanka and  reaches beyond the elevation of Sigiriya, Mihintale and Dambulla - the  more famous   neighbouring rock hills emerging from the same plain.

The Ritigala kanda lies midway between the two ancient cities of Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa and is about 16 kilometres to Habarana. It is bounded to the South by the  Habarana- Maradankadawala - Anuradhapura road  and to the West by the Ganewalpola- Halmillewa road.

History records that Ritigala had been a natural habitat for aboriginal tribes, devotees, princes and royal natives biding their time to wage war for the kingship.

For over 1,500 years its uniqueness remained until its monastic complex was destroyed in the pillage of Sri Lanka by the invading Cholas from Southern India in the end of the 11th and  beginning  of  the 12th century A.D.

A visit to the Ritigala monastery precincts begins at the Archaeological Department Office close  to the foot at the Banda Pokuna.

There are ruins of several buildings including those of an Ayurvedic hospital in the Ritigala reserve.

Around  the 3rd century BC, Aritta, who was the Chief Minister of King Devanampiyatissa, who later was ordained as the first Sri  Lankan  bhikkhu  and became  an Arahath, spent  his  monastic  life at Ritigala.

The names of kings Pandukabhaya and Dutugemunu are connected with this mountain. These kings have used this mountain as a hiding place.

A scenic view of what lies on either side of the stone pavement

Ruins of an Ayurvedic hospital