Located 12km away from Anuradhapura, the Mihintale mountain peak holds great significance in Sri Lanka as it is believed to be the place where Buddhism arrived in Sri Lanka. The legend dates back to 247 BC, when King Devanampiyatissa was tested by Buddhist monk Mahinda to see if he was worthy of obtaining Lord Buddha’s teachings.
To reach the summit, you would have to climb 1,850 steps. The araliya trees shade the ancient ruins, and the stunning view of the surrounding landscape is enough to take your breath away. Though not much is known about the specific ruins on the mountain, it is heavily tied into local Buddhist lore, and is therefore an important site for Buddhist pilgrims.
Remains of Bygone Era
It is said that over 68 caves and a monastery were built here by the King after his conversion to Buddhism. The monastery, now in ruins, isn’t the only intriguing aspect of the mountain. At the base of the mountain are the remains of an ancient hospital, believed to be one of the oldest hospitals in the world.
Along with the hospital is the Kantaka Chethiya stupa. Though it had mostly eroded and fallen apart by the time it was discovered, extensive renovation efforts helped bring it back to a fraction of its former glory, as it now stands at a height of 40ft.
❂ Useful Tips:
- The annual pilgrimage takes place during Poson Poya (June), during which a festival is held to celebrate King Devanampiyatissa’s conversion to Buddhism.
- Though most of Mihintale is accessible for free, an entrance fee of Rs. 500 will be charged at certain points, such as the Ambasthala temple.