The Nuwara Eliya Ramayana Trail
The region of Nuwara Eliya has a mythical past, which links to the epic Sanskrit tale of the Ramayana. The Nuwara Eliya segment of ‘The Ramayana Trail’ is popular amongst devotees, and is definitely something you should consider if you love legend, history and culture.
Hakgala Botanical Garden – Ashok Vatika
The Nuwara Eliya Ramayana Trail often begins in the soothing environment of the Hakgala Botanical Garden, located in Seetha Eliya. The mythical tale of the Ramayana explains that these gardens were used by the Demon King Ravana of Lanka to hide the kidnapped Sita, wife of Lord Rama. Legend states that an area of the garden was also offered by the king to Sita in exchange for her hand in marriage. However, he was refused by the maiden since she was loyal to Rama. A few minutes away from the botanical gardens lies the supposed proof of this tale – the Seetha Amman Temple.
Seetha Amman Temple
Just a kilometre north of the botanical garden lies the Seetha Amman Temple, believed to be the last place in which Sita was held captive by Ravana. The Seetha Amman Temple built in the early 2000s is possibly the only Hindu temple in the world that is dedicated to Sita. Two large imprints, similar to footprints, can be seen on the rocky outcrop just outside the temple. They are believed to have been left behind by Ravana’s elephant, possibly when the king was visiting Sita. Three ancient idols, one of which is supposed to depict Sita, have been placed near the footprints and are worshipped by devotees.
Having eventually rescued Sita, Rama grew suspicious of her fidelity and purity. Determined to prove her innocence and devotion to her husband, Sita was willing to perform a sacrificial ritual called the ‘Agni Pariksha’ (trial by fire). 15 kilometres off the town square of Nuwara Eliya lies the Buddhist temple known as ‘Divurumpola Temple’, which is believed to have been built on the site that Sita’s trial by fire took place thousands of years ago. It is believed that when Sita threw herself into the pyre, the goddess Agni arose and lifted her from the fire unscathed, proving her innocence. The present temple now serves as a tourist site that depicts the story of brave Sita.
King Ravana is believed to have travelled around Sri Lanka, and across the ocean to other kingdoms using a flying machine called the Pushpaka Vimana. Legend states that Ravana had six airports across Sri Lanka from where he operated this flying machine. One of the airports is believed to have been on Thotupola Kanda (mountain) in Horton Plains, about 32km away from the city of Nuwara Eliya. This location is accessible via a hiking trail, and is a great place to visit not only because of its link to the Ramayana tale, but also because it offers stunning views of the surrounding landscape.