Ramayana Info Ramayana Sites & Traditional Hindu Places of Worship in Sri Lanka
68 OF RAMAYANA SITES AND TRADITIONAL HINDU PLACES OF WORSHIP IN SRI LANKA
Chilaw and Northwest
This neat and colourful new Replica of Kataragama temple in Madampe was dedicated to Lord Murugan in January 2012. The huge temple, situated 10 kms south of Chilaw was donated by a local businessman and land owner who is involved in the production and delivery of Today.
The Munneswaram Kovil close to Chilaw is one of the 5 major Shiva temples of Sri Lanka and Rameswaram islands. They are called Ishvarams. According to a Tamil legend, the temple is situated at a place where King Rama prayed to Shiva after committing the worst crime according to Hindu Dharma, namely Brahmahasti, the killing of a priest, because Ravana who had to be killed by Rama in order to liberate Sita, was of Brahmin caste. Rama stopped the Vimana vehicle at Munneswaram because of his feeling that the Doshana sin was not following him at this place. So he ascended from the vimana and prayed to God Shiva asking for a remedy. Shiva advised Rama to install four lingams at Manavari, Trinco, Mannar and Rameswaram for this purpose.
Manavari, about 6 kms north of Chilaw, is the first place where Lord Rama installed a Lingam, as a remedy to Lord Shiva after committing Brahmincide by killing the King Ravana who was a Brahmin. This Shiva Lingam in Manavari is called Ramalingam because it was made by Lord Rama. There are only two Lingams in the world named after Lord Rama, the other is in Rameswaram in India.
Dolukanda is a table mountain rock 20 kms north of the district capital Kurunegala, close to Hiripitiya village. When both Lord Rama and Lakshmana were seriously wounded by powerful arrows and fell unconscious during the war with Ravana's army of demons, Lord Hanuman was instructed to fetch life saving herbs which only grew in the Himalayas. Hanuman carried a whole mountain range to Lanka, as he was not able to identify the life saving herbs himself. Parts from that piece of the Himalayas fell on five places in Lanka. Dolukanda in Hiripitiya, north of Kurunegala, is believed to be one of them. This legend explains the abundance of Ayurvedic herbs in this area, which was one reason to build the nearby ancient forest monastery called Arankale which during the Anuradhapura period served as a healing centre too.
The Ketheeswaram temple, also known as Tirukketisivaram, is a Sri Lankan Hindu temple with a two and a half millennia long tradition as a place of Shiva worship, even claiming to be more ancient than the Sinhalese and Buddhist era of the island. Tirukketisvaran is situated in the Mannar district, but on the mainland opposite to Mannar island. The temple was rebuilt in 1903 after being destroyed by the Portuguese invaders and religious fanatics in 1575. King Ravana's wife Mandodari was from this town, and her father is believed to have built the temple. Another legend has it that the planetary God Ketu worshipped Shiva in this shrine. This is why it is called "Keteeswaram".
Thalladi is a part of the Mannar island at the eastern end of Rama Setu, the legendary bridge believed to be built by Rama and Hanuman and the Vanara army in order to reach Lanka. In particular Thalladi is also believed to originate from Hanuman's flight with the Dronagiri mountain to Lanka when parts of it fell down on the way. Hanuman had been sent to the Himalayas to fetch medicinal herbs, but he had forgotton the name of the herb, and this is why he brought a whole chunk of the peak containing the herbs to Lanka. A mountain fragment slipped and broke into five pieces, and these rocks fell on Thalladi in Mannar, Kachchativu island, Ritigala hills, Dolukanda in Kurunegala district, and Rumassala rock next to Galle.
Thiru Koneswaram is a wonderful temple located on a rock promontory of Trincomalee. It was built by Rishi Agastya on the instructions of Lord Shiva who was impressed by the devotion of King Ravana. This place is unique in this respect because the Lord built a temple for his devotee as a reward for his devotion. Lord Rama is believed to have offered his prayers here, too, in order to get rid of the malediction of killing Ravana who was a Brahmin, meaning Brahmahasthi Dosham. The famous temple built here during the glorious era of the Tamil Pallava and Chola and Pandya empires, was destroyed by bigoted Portuguese Christians between 1622 and 1624.
Adjacent to Trincomalee's famous Koneswaram temple there is another shrine; it is small in size but of some significance for Hindu pilgrims. This Shankari Devi temple is a reconstruction at a new place. The original Shankari Devi temple, said to be built by Ravana, was the first in the list of Ashta Dasha (18) Shakti Pitas written down by Adi Shankara, but its whole cliff was destroyed by Portuguese cannon balls. Only a pillar for commemoration is placed on that spot now. And it is believed that the original idol of the Goddess has been preserved and replaced, being venerated now in this nearby new Shankari Devi temple.
Vil means bow, and Undri means resting. This is why the Tamil name of this place, Vilundri, is believed to have been a spot where Lord Rama, returning home with Sita to Ayodhya, stopped on his way to Thiru Koneswaram and rested with his bow on the ground.
The hot wells of Kanniyai or Kanniya are close to the main road to Anuradhapura only about 10 kms from Trincomalee town. Pilgrims believe in their healing power. There are many different versions of the myth on how these curative hot water wells came into existence; most of them are connected to Ravana. One legend about Kanniya's origin has it, that this is the place where King Ravana carried out the last rites for his mother. When he was unable to find water to duly perform the rites, he in anger pierced his Trishula into the ground seven times. Water started gushing out immediately. The very hot water cooled down to the present degree when Ravana's anger calmed down. The temperature of the water is different in all the seven wells.
The Kannagi Amman Kovil in Vattapalai at the Nayari Lagoon southwards of Mullaitivu is the most important shrine for this highly respected Goddess in Sri Lanka's Vanni area. Goddess Kannaki is the central character of the famous Tamil Epic Silapathikaram. In Sri Lanka it is believed that, after devastating South India's Madurai city in revenge for her innocent husband's execution, she settled down on the island, venerated as Pattini by Sinhalese farmers and as Kannaki by Tamils. She is said to have rested at different places in Sri Lanka, and only at the tenth site she finally recovered from her wrath. The Tamil word for "tenth" is "pattham". "Palai" means "residence". The pronounciation of "Pattham-Palai" later on shifted to "Vattapalai".
The historic Kandaswamy Temple in Nallur, not far away from Jaffna's town centre, is dedicated to Lord Murugan in the form of the divine spear Vel, a well-known symbol of Tamil religiousness. Founded in the 10th century this Skanda Temple was enlarged during the 13th to 15th century when Jaffna was a major principality of the island, especially under Chempaha Perumal, who later on became the Sinhalese king Bhuvenaikabahu VI in Kotte. The original Nallur temple was destroyed by the Portuguese and replaced by a church. But within the former temple premises, called Kurukkal Valavu, the current temple building was erected in 1749, during the Dutch colonial period. Nallur is renowned for the strict discipline, order and timing of its puja ceremonies and became a landmark of Tamil Hindu cultural pride.
Nagapushani Amman Temple is a historic Hindu temple located on the island of Nainativu, west of the Jaffna peninsula. It is dedicated to Parvati who is locally known as Nagapushani and to her consort Shiva who is named as Nayinar here. Adi Shankara, India's great 9th century Vedanta philosopher, identified it as one of the 64 Shakti Pithas. For Tamil people this temple for the Goddess traditionally is eminently respectable. An annual 16 day Mahostavam festival of this Nagapushani Amman temple on Nainativu Island held in June is usually attended by more than 100,000 pilgrims.
Nagapushani Amman Temple is a historic Hindu temple located on the island of Nainativu, west of the Jaffna peninsula. It is dedicated to Parvati who is locally known as Nagapushani and to her consort Shiva who is named as Nayinar here. Adi Shankara, India's great 9th century Vedanta philosopher, identified it as one of 64 Shakti Pithas. For Tamil people this temple for the goddess traditionally is eminently respectable. An annual 16 day Mahostavam festival of this Nagapushani Amman temple on Nainativu Island is held in June and is usually attended by more than 100,000 pilgrims.
Nilawari, also spelled Nilavarai, is located in Puthur 14 kms northeast of Jaffna town. Nilawari is popular among locals and tourists on a pilgrimage because of its giant natural underground water well of unknown depth. The water is a little bit salty, but drinkable. The well never dries up, not even during severe droughts. It is told that when Lord Rama's army entered Lanka they took positions on different sides. The army situated in the northern dry zone faced a severe water crisis. But Lord Rama shot a magic arrow into the ground and water sprung out immediately. Another version of the legend has it that the arrow was shot by Hanuman to satisfy the thirst of Rama.
Selva Saniddhi is the most northern temple along the famous Pada Yatra pilgrimage route. The temple is located in Thondaimanaru 25 outside Jaffna, and in only 9 kms distance to Point Pedro, the northernmost spot of the island. Selva Saniddhi is a place of Vel worship. The venerated silver spear once has been brought here from its main sanctuary in Kataragama, called Katirkaman by Tamils. Selva Sannidhi is Sri Lanka's Murugan temple farthest away from Kataragama/Katirkaman.
Kachchativu is a small island in the middle of the Palk Strait, halfway between Jaffna and India's Rameswaram. It is one of the spots associated with the much-loved story of Hanuman carrying through the air a part of the Himalayas to Lanka in order to cure Rama and Lakshmana from otherwise never-healing wounds. Only special herbs from the Himalayas could help, but Hanuman had forgotten their complicated names when he arrived in the Himalaya mountains, so he took a whole hill of it back to Lanka. But on the way he lost some parts of it. So one of these rocks fallen down from the air is Kachchativu island.
Batticaloa is one of the major historic seaports of Sri Lanka. There are many Hindu temples in Batticaloa. For example Anipandi Sitivigniswara Alayam is decorated with a magnificent gopuram. The Tiruchendur Murugan Alayam Temple was built in 1984 as a new stopping point for Pada Yatra pilgrims. Its Murugan image is said to have opened its eyes on its own, even before the painter began that ceremony. The 2004 Tsunami effected the temple, until the present day its gopuram leans at a conspicuous angle.
Verugal (often spelled Verukal) is a very small hamlet in the southernmost part of the Trincomalee district. The Verugal Sri Cittira Velayudha Swami Temple, as well known as Sinna Kathirgamam or Verugal Kandaswamy, is located very close to the mainroad to Batticaloa, about 50 kms south of Trincomalee, on the northern bank of the Verugal Aru river. It is dedicated to Murugan. As in the case of many other Hindu and Buddhist sanctuaries along the shores of the island. The original temple was destroyed in the 16th century by Portuguese Christians, but rebuilt later on.
The Sitthandi Murugan Temple (also spelled Cittanti Murukan Temple) is one of the many shrines in the Eastern province dedicated to the veneration of Vel. This holy spear, instead of a sculpture, is an an iconic symbol of Lord Murugan, the manifestation of Skanda worshipped in Tamil areas. Temples for Vel are called Tiruppatai Kovils, they were initially sanctuaries of the Vedda people, Sri Lanka's hunter-gatherer tribes. But according to one myth the temple was founded by a Siddha. In Tamil tradition a Siddha, also spelled Siddhar or Cittar, is an ascetic on the path to perfection using secret Rasayana methods to prolong meditation and life. The temple founder was a so-called Anti, too, a wayfarer without permanent residence. This is why his temple gets its Siddha-Anti
Shri Mamangeshwarar Kovil in Amarnthakali, or Amirthakally, 6 kms away from Batticaloa, is a well-known holy place for Hindus, who believe that bathing in the sacred water of Mamangeshwarar tank will improve the rebirth conditions for their deceased relatives. Besides the main temple for Kali Amman there are shrines for Lord Shiva and Lord Ganesha. Amarnthakali furthermore is believed to be the site where Lord Rama and his consort Sita and his brother Lakshmana partook their first meal after the war. The so-called Old or Hanuman Lake is said to have extinguished the fire set on Lord Hanuman's tail.
The temple in Kokkaddicholai is a so called Tamil "Thanrhondrishwarar". This means a Shiva-Lingam "sprung up by itself". It is therefore a "Swayambhu-Lingam". Hindus believe this Shiva-Lingam to be more than 10,000 years old. Kokkaddicholai likes to be counted as the 5th Ishwaram temple of Sri Lanka. But the real 5th Ishvaram temple was located at the southern shores of the island and destroyed by the Portuguese.
Mandur is a village located about 40 kms south of Batticaloa city, on the inland side of the lagoon. The well-known Mandur Kandaswamy temple (Mantur Sri Kantacuvaami temple Kovil) is dedicated to Lord Murugan, one of the favourite Gods among Tamils. Mandur is the most important Pada Yatra pilgrimage place in the Batticaloa district, even called "Cinna Katirkamam", meaning "Little Kataragama". At the end of the Mandur temple festival, after the water cutting ceremony called Theetham, young girls faint when they do Aarthi in front of Lord Murugan.
Thirukkovil or Tirukovil is a small town in the Ampara District of Sri Lanka, located at the East coast main road A4, halfway between Kalmunai and Pottuvil. The Tamil name "Thirukkovil" simply means "sacred temple" or "God's temple". The local Sri Sithravalayutha Suvamy Kovil (or Citra Velayudha Swami Kovil) is not only one more Murugan temple along the Pada yatra pilgrimage route along the East coast of Sri Lanka, but one of the three main coastal Tiruppatai temples of the Wedda people for worshipping the Vel, the emblematic weapon ("patai") of Lord Murugan. The Ramayana Trail Legend tells us that King Ravana's mother resided in a palace in Thirukovil.
Okanda is a small hamlet in the Eastern coast of Sri Lanka, belonging to the Ampara District. It is located at the entrance of the Kumana or Yala-East National Park. To Hindus this remote beach is well-known for its Okanthamalai Velayuda Swami shrine dedicated to Murugan. Pilgrims from the Northern and the Eastern Provinces stop over at this Murugan temple on their way to the Kataragama temple. Okanda is the last temple for Pada Yatra pilgrims at the shores of the island, from here their footpath turns to the upcountry. The inland route to Kataragama crosses the National Park area.
Ritigala is the highest range of the hills in Sri Lanka's so called Cultural Triangle, which was the core region of the ancient and medieval Sinhalese civilization. In Ritigala there was one of the most important monasteries of austere forest monks. It also served as a pilgrim's place and had a hospital for Ayurvedic treatment, because the Ritigala hills are famous for their abundance of medical plants. Legend has it that the reason for this is that Ritigala is a part of Mount Dronagiri. When Lakhshmana was severely injured by Indrajit during the battle on Lanka, Hanuman was sent to fetch the life-restoring Sanjivani plant from the Himalayas. But when Hanuman realized that he was unable to find this herb in time, he lifted the whole Dronagiri and flew with it to Lanka, but on the way he lost some parts of it. Ritigala being one of them.
The Isurumuniya Viharaya, a rock temple in the southern outskirts of Anuradhapura, probably was a place of worship already before the advent of Buddhism on the island. Isurumuniya is well-known for its variety of stone carvings and their quality. One enigmatic rock-cut sculpture depicts a resting person with the head of a horse behind his shoulder, a unique subject in Sri Lanka's art. It is commonly called "Man and Horse" because of the uncertainty of its interpretation. Some regard it as the South Indian God Ayanar, others as Parjanya, a personification of the rain cloud. The Ramayana Trail interpretation of this rock carving identifies the depicted man as Ravana's father, Rishi Visravasmuni with his white horse, and Isurumuniya as a temple built by Ravana in commemoration of his beloved parents.
Situated in the southern outskirts of the medieval Sri Lankan capital Polonnaruwa there is a famous rock-cut sculpture of excellent quality. Its correct interpretation is still under discussion. Most Sinhalese regard it to be a portrait of Polonnaruwa's historically most important King Parakramabahu. But the sacred thread running from the left shoulder across the body and the Ola leaf book carried in the hands are typical for Brahmin scholars. Some suggest the sculpture to depict Rishi Kapila or Rishi Agastya. But most probably it is Rishi Pulastya, called Pulatthi in Pali or Pulasthi by locals. He is the name-giving patron of the Polonnaruwa city which during ancient times was called Pulasthinagara. Pulastya is the grandfather of Lanka's King Ravana.
In the rock garden area of Sigiriya there is the Cobra Hooded Cave. It is a rock-shelter surmounted by a boulder in the form of a cobra hood. It is one of the many spots believed to have been a palace of Sita's captivity on Lanka. An inscription mentioning a Naguliya Lena is said to be a proof for it as Naguliya is identified with Sita as allegedly both names can have the same meaning "born from a furrow", because "Naguliya" could be derived from the words for snakes and for plough. But historians believe Naguliya to be the name of a local chieftain who donated the cave to the Buddhist order. In the Ramayana Trail legend, even the ancient rock fortress Sigiriya itself is sometimes claimed to have been a palace of Ravana, because historically it is connected to the cult of Kuwera. Kuwera was the step brother of Ravana who became his successor as King of Lanka.
The Nalanda gedige is geographically located in the very centre of the island. It is a Buddhist temple in the first place, but in many respects exceptional. The images of this temple prove Mahayana Buddhist and even Tantric influence on this Theravada dominated island during its late Anuradhapura kingdom period (7th to 10th century). Furthermore, the architectural style of this Gedige is obviously influenced by the Dravidian architecture of the Pallava and the Pandya kingdoms of Southern India. So the Nalanda Gedige resembles very much an ancient Hindu shrine. And maybe it was even a sanctuary before Buddhist times.
Matale is a district capital 30 kms north of Kandy. A colourful Gopuram tower, one of the tallest in Sri Lanka, marks the Hindu temple at the northern border of the town centre. The temple was damaged during the 1983 anti-Tamil riots and renewed and embellished afterwards. It is dedicated to Muthumariamman, the most venerated Goddess in the rural Tamil areas in India and in Sri Lanka as well. The brahmanical tradition identifies Mariamman with Parvati as the consort of Shiva.
Rattota east of Matale is the gateway to the Riverston pass, sometimes called Sri Lanka's second Horton Plains. The Riverston area is crowded with places which recently became linked to the Ramayana in promotion of the so-called Ramayana Trail. Rattota itself is home to one of the very few Hindu temples in Sri Lanka dedicated to Lord Rama, if not the only one, whereas most Tamil temples on the island first and foremost honour Shiva or one of his family members.
Dunuvila on the outskirts of Wasgamuwa National Park is sometimes spelled Dunuwila, Dunuvila, or Dunuwilla. It is said to have been the place from where Lord Rama fired the deadly Brahmasthram weapon at King Ravana. The reason for this identification is: "Dunu" which means arrow and "Vila" which means Lake. So it is explained that this place got its name because Lord Rama fired his arrow from this lake.
Laggala near Dunuvila is another place in the northeastern area of the Highlands which in recent times became associated with the Ramayana, because the name Laggala or Lakgala or Lakegala is derived form the Sinhala term Elakke Gala meaning target Rock. Laggala is said to have served as a watchtower for King Ravana's army, and it was from Laggala that Lord Rama's army was sighted by Ravana's soldiers for the first time. Not only is the beginning of the war of Lanka associated with Laggala, but even more so for its final fight. The top of Laggala is flat; this is believed to have resulted from being hit by the Brahmasthram weapon after Lord Rama had fired it from Dunuvila killing the target Ravana on this rock.
Yahangala means bedrock. The Ramayana Trail legend interprets this name in the following way: King Ravana's dead body was kept upon this rock for his fellow countrymen to allow them to pay their last respects to their departed highly respected king. There is another local legend giving an alternative version of the meaning of Yahangala telling that Ravana did not really die but only became unconscious. His body remains hidden in the rock, laid on his left side. In 2012, he was supposed to turn to the right side. And one day he will wake up again.
Gurulupotha is believed to have served as an aircraft repair center in the capital city of King Ravana, because the Sinhalese name Gurulupotha means "parts of birds". In Valmiki's depiction of King Ravana's Pushpaka Vimana, the "flowery vehicle", resembled a cloud. But is also believed to have had the shape of a huge peacock, and was therefore called Dandu Monara, "flying peacock". But sometimes the Pushpaka Vimana and the Dandu Monara are said to have been different kinds of prehistoric aircrafts used by Ravana.
Sita Kotuwa is situated close to Gurulupotha, Hasalaka. It is a beautiful remote spot, surrounded by streams and waterfalls and limestone caves and abundant flora and fauna, where ruins of a typical forest monastery from the late Anuradhapura centuries (7th to 10th century) can be visited. But the name Sita Kotuwa meaning "Sita's fortress" connects it to the Ramayana Trail. The area is said to have been the beautiful palace of queen Mandodari. Sitadevi was held captive in this palace until she was moved to Asoka Vatika. Sita Kotuwa means Sita's fortress.
Weragantota means "place of aircraft landing" in Sinhala language. It is believed to be the airport where Sitadevi landed when she was abducted to Lanka in King Ravana's Pushpaka Vimana. In the surrounding area, now covered by jungle, once was the location of Ravana's city Lankapura. According to the Ramayana the city had a beautiful palace for queen Mandodari.
Kandy's Tooth Relic Temple is the most significant Buddhist holy place in Sri Lanka, venerated by Buddhists from Southeast Asia as well. There are four shrines for Gods connected to the Buddha's Tooth Temple. These Devales, which play an important role in the processions of the Buddha's Tooth Temple, are mainly Sinhalese places of worship, whereas Tamil Hindu temples are called Kovils. But the Devales are closely connected to Hinduism in many ways. The above mentioned world-famous procession called Kandy Perahara, originates in the Ratha Yatras held for the Hindu deities. And the priests of the Kataragama Devale in the city centre are not Sinhalese Kapuralas, but Tamil Brahmins.
The Gadaladeniya temple is one of the 3 Western Shrines in the surroundings of Kandy, dating from the Gampola period in the 14th century. Of those shrines Gadaladeniya is the one showing the closest relation to Indian architecture. Its outline of an Indian Shikhara-temple in a smaller size, and many details prove cultural influence from the South Indian Vijayanagara Empire. In Sri Lanka, Gadaladeniya is famous for its paintings, especially those at the wooden doors, for example the flower maiden. Though Gadaladeniya's main shrine is originally and until the present day a Buddhist sanctuary its extension are dedicated to Hindu gods. The integration of Hindu elements into the Buddhist religion is a characteristic feature of the Gampola period and even influenced the Kandyan art which became a pride of the Sinhalese Buddhist culture.
Lankatilaka is the most splended of the three remaining temples from the Gampola period of the island's history. A characteristic feature of the architectural design of this Buddhist temple is its concinnity, integrating 5 chapels for Hindu deities in an ambulatory around the main shrine under the same roof. The venerated gods are Vishnu in his Lankan appearance as Upulvan, Skanda as Kataragama, Saman protecting the sacred mountain Siri Pada and Pattini, the Sinhalese version of the Tamil Kannaki. The fifth God is Vibhishana, Ravana's younger brother, who supported Rama and after Ravana's death became his successor as king of Lanka.
Embekke is famous for the artful woodcarvings at the pillars of the music and dancing hall called Digge. The Embekke Devale is one of the three preserved temples of the 14th century, which is the period when the nearby town Gampola was the most important Sinhalese royal residence. In contrast to the other temples from the same period, Lankatilaka and Gadaladeniya, Embekke is mainly a sanctuary for a God and has a chapel for the Buddha only as an appendix. The temple is dedicated to Mahasen, a local form of Skanda-Murugan or the Sinhalese Katharagama. The regional God Devatha Bandara is worshipped in the Embekke temple premises, too.
Sitawaka is a suburb of Avissawela at the river banks of the Kelani Ganga. In the 16th century it was a capital during the reign of King Rajasingha I. Legend has it that Sita was imprisoned by Ravana in a nearby grove, hence the name Sitawaka. A shocking episode is believed to have taken place here, too. In order to shatter Lord Rama's confidence to regain his consort Sita, Ravana's eldest son Indrajit beheaded a look-alike of Sita in front of Lord Hanuman. Furthermore there is a stone in the Sitawaka area called Rampathagala with one footprint believed to be left by Lord Rama himself.
This neat and colourful new Replica of Kataragama temple in Madampe was dedicated to Lord Murugan in January 2012. The huge temple, situated 10 kms south of Chilaw was donated by a local businessman and land owner who is involved in the production and delivery of Today.
This neat and colourful new Replica of Kataragama temple in Madampe was dedicated to Lord Murugan in January 2012. The huge temple, situated 10 kms south of Chilaw was donated by a local businessman and land owner who is involved in the production and delivery of Today.
Hakgala rock surmounts the Hakgala Botanical gardens, only a few kilometres away from Ashok Vatika. It is sometimes said that Hakgala rock is one of the pieces of the Himalayas that fell down when Hanuman carried Mount Dronagiri to Lanka. But usually the Ramayana Trail identifies only 5 other places as originating from these events. Rumassala near Galle, Dolukanda in Hiripitiya, Ritigala near Habarana, Thalladi on Mannar, and Kachchativu island.
Divurumpola is said to be the location where Sita underwent the famous fire ordeal Agni Pariksha, in order to prove her chastity. From the flames arose the fire god Agni who was invoked by Sita. He lifted her from the flames unharmed and presented her to Lord Rama who explained this test was only necessary to prove the truth of her purity and innocence to everybody. Divurumpola is said to have been the location of this episode, because the Sinhalese name means a ‘marketplace of oath’. Today the temple is respected as a suitable place for oaths that can be helpful in settling disputes between parties.
Vidurupola, or Widurupola or Veedurupola, close to Welimada at the Nuwara Eliya to Badulla mainroad A5 is the location of a Ramayana research center.
Gavagala is located east of Nuwara Eliya at the road to Walapane. It is told that King Ravana had his dairy farm here. Milk was airlifted to the capital Lankapura from here using Vimanas as aircrafts. The stone pillars in Gavagala show marks cast by constant use of tying ropes on them.
Kondagala, also known as Kondakalai, is one of the many villages in Sri Lanka believed to derive its name from the Ramayana. When King Ravana transferred Sitadevi in his chariot to Ashok Vatika, her hair got deranged because of the speed of the chariot. Konda kalai in tamil means exactly this, the deranging of hair.
Mani Kattuther is a small and flat rock boulder within the tea plantations of Labookellie estate. It is believed that Lord Hanuman, after meeting Sitadevi, rested on this hill top on his way back to Lord Rama with the happy news of finding his missed consort. Nowadays an open temple with statues of Lord Rama, Sita, Lakshmana and Hanuman stands on top of it. Locals visit the holy place frequently.
The Sri Lankan branch of the Chinmaya mission, committed to promoting the Ramayana philosophy as well as Ramayana Trail pilgrimages, has built a temple with Hanuman as a presiding deity in Ramboda at the Kandy to Nuwara Eliya mainroad. There is a new five metres tall granite statue of Rama's devote supporter. Hanuman is believed to have started his search for Sita in the Baroda hills. Hanuman traditionally was not as popular among Sri Lankan Tamil devotees as he indeed is in India, because he devastated parts of the island with his burning tail. But in recent times Hindu missionaries and local Tamil spiritual leaders began building shrines for worshipping Hanuman in Sri Lanka, too. The Tamil word for Ramboda, Rampadai, means "Rama's force", this is why Ramboda is believed to be the area where Rama collected his troops.
The summit of the mountain next to Pussallawa is the site where Lord Hanuman first set his foot on Lanka. Close to Pusselawa there is a barren piece of land in the jungle called Sita Pokuna, also known as Sita Tear Pond. Remarkably no vegetation except grass grows on this piece of land which is surrounded by a dense forest. Sita Pokuna is one of the many places believed to have been, at times, an abode of Sita during her captivity in Lanka, namely when Ravana transferred her from his palace to Ashok Vatika. Thereby Sita Pokuna is a stopover on the so-called Chariot Path. Pokuna is a Sinhalese word for pond. Local folklore tells that the pond dried up after the departure of Sitadevi from this site.
The Kotmale valley area opposite to the Ramboda hills is another place where Sita is said to have stayed during her transit from Ravana's palace to the Ashok Vatika. Ravana Goda is one of the caves believed to belong to an underground network of tunnels in Ravana's kingdom. The main cave entrance was closed because of a landslide in 1947. Locals believe this part of the complex was used as a prison by Ravana. The cave until now has not been fully explored.
The Ravana Ella Falls and the Rawana Ella Cave are located close to the Wellawaya mainroad in the famous valley called Ella gap, only about 6 kms away from the town of Ella well known for its splendid views to the Ella gap. The cascading waterfall measures about 25 metres. It is believed that Sita bathed in a pool that accumulated the water falling from this waterfall. The nearby Rawana Ella cave is quite small, only 50 metres long. As in the case of Ishthripura Cave in Welimada, legend has it that it was used by King Rawana to hide princess Sita. It is believed to belong to a network of tunnels also connecting it to the Dova temple and to all the palaces and airports and dairy farms of King Ravana. Archaeological findings in the Rawana Cave include a human skull dating back to 20,000 BC.
These tunnels prove beyond doubt the architectural brilliance of King Ravana. These tunnels served as a quick means of transport through the hills and also as a secret passage. These tunnels networked all the important cities, airport and dairy farms. A close look at these tunnels indicates that they are where a palace and a tunnel existed. Existing tunnels mouths are situated in Ishtripura at Welimada, Ravana cave at Bandarawela, Senapitiya at Halagala, Ramboda, Labookellie, Wariyapola, Matale and Sitakotuwa Hasalaka. In addition there are many more tunnels.
Pathala Lok, though literally meaning netherworld or even underworld, is an elevated plateau 2000 metres in height. It is better known by its English name Horton Plains. World's End being its abrupt southern precipice. This high plain is believed to be the area where Ahiravan had captured and hidden both Lord Rama and Lakshmana. Later on Lord Hanuman by assuming his five-headed form, Panchamuga Hanuman, was able to rescue them and to carry them back on his shoulders. His opponent Ahiravan, also called Ahiravana or Mahiravan, was the king of Pathala.
The Dova ancient rock temple next to the Bandarawela - Badulla mainroad is one of the foremost rock temples in the Uva province. Dova is believed to have served as a refuge of the famous king Walagambha in the first century BC. At the rear of the Buddhist cave temples and image houses there is a small stupa inside a cave. This stupa marks the entrance, now locked, to a tunnel which is said to be 11 kms long and leading to the Ravana Ella cave and to be a part of an underground network of tunnels already built by Lanka's legendary king Ravana.
Badulla is the capital of Sri Lanka's Uva province. Badulla is a Sinhalese city. Because it is believed that the Buddha visited this spot, the main temple Muthiyangana became a Buddhist pilgrimage place. But traditionally many Tamil traders and some families of Tamil tea plantation workers live in Badulla, too. This is why there are many Hindu temples of Badulla's Tamil minority. It is easy to join one of their Puja ceremonies. Badulla's largest shrine for a God, Kataragama Devale, is frequented by Hindu and Buddhist devotees as well.
Yudaganawa is an excavation area only a few kilometres west of Puttalam at the Wellawaya to Monaragala main road A4. The Kinkine Vihara is situated here, the largest Buddhist stupa of the island's south. The Ramayana Trail legend has it that Yudaganawa (instead of the formerly identified Yudaganapitiya in the northern highlands) was the arena for the final battle between Rama and Ravana. It is said that the destruction caused by this war is the reason why this piece of land can never bear any vegetation again.
Kataragama is the name of the God and his hometown as well. Kataragama is the Sinhalese form of Skanda, also known as Subhramaniya. He usually is called Murugan or Karthikeya by Tamils. His local consort Valli and his Indian consort Teyvanai (Devasena) and his brother Ganesha are worshipped in their respective own shrines in the holy city of Kataragama, too. Sinhalese worship Skanda-Kataragama as one of their four or five national Gods, especially as protector of the island's south. For Buddhists, Kataragama is a place additionally sanctified by a visit of the Buddha. Even Wedda Tribals and Muslim Sufis regard Kataragama as a prominent place of worshipping God. Kataragama deiyo furthermore is linked to the Ramayana Trail legend. Lord Indra is said to have given him orders to join the battle at the last day of the war to protect Lord Rama from the powerful wrath of Lanka's demon king Ravana.
According to the Sinhalese tradition, the temple of the Kirinda marks the place where Princes Viharamaha Devi landed after her father, the king of Kelaniya, set her adrift on a golden vessel. Later on she became the consort of Sri Lanka's most famous King Dutugemunu. The Ramayana Trail legend tells that Seetha was kept captive here for nearly one year. Ravana’s administrative capital was Ravana Kotte. This is identified as the Basses reefs Southeast of Kirinda. Though the palace is sunk in the sea, some parts of it are said to be seen sometimes during low tides.
Ussangoda is a strange coastal area because of its lack of trees. Its serpentine rock contains heavy toxic metals. Only specific smaller plants were able to adapt to this soil. But according to the Ramayana legend, there are two more explanations for the baldness of Ussangoda. After meeting Sitadevi, Lord Hanuman provoked the mighty King Ravana and his army of Rakshasas. It resulted in Lord Hanuman's tail being set on fire by Rakshasas. Hanuman in turn went on to torch parts of King Ravana's empire with his burning tail. Ussangoda is said to be one of these burnt areas. Besides the Ramyana Trail legend has it that earlier on the Ussangoda plateau was used an airport by King Ravana for his Dandu Monara peacock chariot, before Hanuman devastated the landing site.
Rumassala hill 3 kms east of Galle is the landmark of Unuwatuna beach because of the picturesque white Buddhist dagoba on top of it. Rumassala rock is one of the five Sri Lankan spots believed to originate from parts of Mount Dronagiri. They fell down when Hanuman carried the Dronagiri on his flight back to Lanka in order to use its Sanjiwani herb to rescue Lakhshmana and Rama who were in need of this medical plant to be reanimated after suffering severe injuries. Rumassala is also said to be an abode of Sita during her stay in Lanka.
Seenigama is a small village on the south-west coast close to Hikkaduwa, Sri Lanka's most popular beach resort for coral reef snorkeling. The Seenigama temple is situated on a very small island. This Devale is dedicated to the local God Devol Deviyo, who protects fishermen and their boats. The Ramayana trail legend has it that Seenigama was the landing place from where Sugriva, King of the Varanas and their monkey army, launched his onslaught on Ravana's demon army.
Kelaniya is a Buddhist sanctuary because it was believed to have been visited by the Buddha himself. Within the temple premises there is a Hindu shrine, too. It is dedicated to Lord Vibhishana who was the younger brother of Ravana but during the legendary war on Lanka a supporter of Lord Rama, because he disapproved of Ravana's abduction of Sita. After Ravana's death Rama appointed Vibhishana as the new King of Lanka. Vibhishana is venerated by Sinhalese Buddhists as a God, they believe him to be one of the main protectors of the island, especially in its western territories.
Hanuman is often called Anjaneyar by Tamils, as his mother's name is Anjan. This Kovil is the first Anjaneyar temple in Sri Lanka and the only one on the island dedicated to Lord Hanuman in his Panchamuga form; meaning five faces. And it is said to be the only temple in the world to have a chariot for Anjaneyar. Its chariot festival is held annually at the end of December or in the beginning of January. It is one of the most popular processions in Sri Lanka's capital Colombo. Visitors are advised to wash hands and feet before entering the temple and not to cross hands inside the temple.
- Rama is one of the protagonists of the tale. Portrayed as the seventh avatar of the god Vishnu, he is the eldest and favorite son of Dasharatha the king of Ayodhya (current day Ayodhya, India)and his Queen, Kausalya. He is portrayed as the epitome of virtue. Dasharatha is forced by Kaikeyi, one of his wives, to command Rama to relinquish his right to the throne for fourteen years and go into exile.
- Sita is another of the tale's protagonists. She is King Janaka's daughter, and Rama's beloved wife. Rama went to Mithila (current day Janakpur, Nepal), and got a chance to marry her by lifting a heavy bow in a competition organized by King Janaka. The competition was to find the most suitable husband for Sita, and many princes from different states competed to win her. Sita is the avatara of goddessLakshmi, the consort of Vishnu. Sita is portrayed as the epitome of female purity and virtue. She follows her husband into exile and is abducted by Ravana. She is imprisoned on the island of Lanka, until Rama rescues her by defeating the demon king Ravana. Later, she gives birth to Lava and Kusha, the heirs of Rama.
- Hanuman is a vanara belonging to the kingdom of Kishkindha. In some versions (other than Valmiki's),he is portrayed as the eleventh avatar of Shiva (he is also called rudra) and an ideal bhakta of Rama. He is born as the son of Kesari, a Vanara king, and the goddess Anjana. He plays an important part in locating Sita and in the ensuing battle. He is believed to live until our modern world. Lakshmana, the younger brother of Rama, who chose to go into exile with him. He is the son of King Dasaratha and Queen Sumitra, and twin of Shatrughna. Lakshmana is portrayed as an avatar of the Shesha, the nāga associated with the god Vishnu. He spends his time protecting Sita and Rama during which he fought the demoness Surpanakha. He is forced to leave Sita, who was deceived by the demonMaricha into believing that Rama was in trouble. Sita is abducted by Ravana upon him leaving her. He was married to Sita's younger sister Urmila.
- Ravana, a rakshasa, is the king of Lanka. After performing severe penance for ten thousand years he received a boon from the creator-god Brahma: he could henceforth not be killed by gods, demons,or spirits. He is portrayed as a powerful demon king who disturbs the penances of rishis. Vishnu incarnates as the human Rama to defeat him, thus circumventing the boon given by Brahma.
- Jatayu,the son of Aruṇa and nephew of Garuda. A demi-god who has the form of an vulture that tries to rescue Sita from Ravana. Jatayu fought valiantly with Ravana, but as Jatayu was very old, Ravana soon got the better of him. As Rama and Lakshmana chanced upon the stricken and dying Jatayu in their search for Sita, he informs them of the direction in which Ravana had gone.
- Dasharatha is the king of Ayodhya and the father of Rama. He has three queens, Kausalya, Kaikeyi and Sumitra, and three other sons: Bharata, Lakshmana and Shatrughna. Kaikeyi, Dasharatha's favourite queen, forces him to make his son Bharata crown prince and send Rama into exile. Dasharatha dies heartbroken after Rama goes into exile.
- Bharata is the son of Dasharatha and Queen Kaikeyi. When he learns that his mother Kaikeyi had forced Rama into exile and caused Dasharatha to die brokenhearted, he storms out of the palace and goes in search of Rama in the forest. When Rama refuses to return from his exile to assume the throne, Bharata obtains Rama's sandals, and places them on the throne as a gesture that Rama is the true king. Bharata then rules Ayodhya as the regent of Rama for the next fourteen years. He was married to Mandavi.
- Shatrughna is the son of Dasharatha and his second wife Queen Sumitra. He is the youngest brother of Rama and also the twin brother of Lakshmana. He was married to Shrutakirti.
- Sugriva, a vanara king who helped Rama regain Sita from Ravana. He had an agreement with Rama through which Vaali – Sugriva's brother and king of Kishkindha – would be killed by Rama in exchange for Sugriva's help in finding Sita. Sugriva ultimately ascends the throne of Kishkindha after the slaying of Vaali, and fulfills his promise by putting the Vanara forces at Rama's disposal
- Indrajit, a son of Ravana who twice defeated Lakshmana in battle, before succumbing to him the third time. An adept of the magical arts,he coupled his supreme fighting skills with various stratagems to inflict heavy losses on the Vanara army before his death
- Kumbhakarna, a brother of Ravana, famous for his eating and sleeping. He would sleep for months at a time and would be extremely ravenous upon waking up, consuming anything set before him. His monstrous size and loyalty made him an important part of Ravana's army. During the war he decimated the Vanara army before Rama cut off his limbs and head
- Surpanakha, Ravana's demoness sister who fell in love with Rama and had the magical power to any form she wanted.
- Vibhishana, a younger brother of Ravana. He was against the kidnapping of sita, and joined the forces of Rama when Ravana refused to return her. His intricate knowledge of Lanka was vital in the war, and he was crowned king after the fall of Ravana
Events of Ramayana in India & Sri Lanka
Dasharatha was the king of Ayodhya. He had three queens Kausalya, Kaikeyi and Sumitra. He was childless for a long time and, anxious to produce an heir, he performs a fire sacrifice known as putra-kameshti yagya. As a consequence, Rama is first born to Kausalya, Bharata is born to Kaikeyi, Lakshmana and Shatrughna are born to Sumitra. These sons are endowed, to various degrees, with the essence of the god Vishnu; Vishnu had opted to be born into mortality to combat the demon Ravana, who was oppressing the gods,and who could only be destroyed by a mortal. The boys are reared as the princes of the realm, receiving instructions from the scriptures and in warfare. When Rama is 16-years-old, the sage Vishwamitra comes to the court of Dasharatha in search of help against demons who were disturbing sacrificial rites. He chooses Rama, who is followed by Lakshmana, his constant companion throughout the story. Rama and Lakshmana receive instructions and supernatural weapons from Vishwamitra, and proceed to destroy the demons. Janaka was the king of Mithila. One day, a female child was found in the field by the king in the deep furrow dug by his plough. Overwhelmed with joy, the king regarded the child as a "miraculous gift of god". The child was named Sita, the Sanskrit word for furrow. Sita grew up to be a girl of unparalleled beauty and charm. When Sita was of marriageable age, the king decided to have a swayamvara which included a contest. The king was in possession of an immensely heavy bow, presented to him by the god Shiva: whoever could wield the bow could marry Sita. The sage Vishwamitra attends the swayamvara with Rama and Lakshmana. Only Rama is able to wield the bow and, when he draws the string, it breaks. Marriages are arranged between the sons of Dasharatha and daughters of Janaka. Rama gets married to Sita, Lakshmana to Urmila,Bharata to Mandavi and Shatrughan to Shrutakirti. The weddings are celebrated with great festivity at Mithila and the marriage party returns to Ayodhya.
After Rama and Sita have been married for twelve years, an elderly Dasharatha expresses his desire to crown Rama, to which the Kosala assembly and his subjects express their support.On the eve of the great event, Kaikeyi—her jealousy aroused by Manthara, a wicked maidservant—claims two boons that Dasharatha had long ago granted her. Kaikeyi demands Rama to be exiled into wilderness for fourteen years, while the succession passes to her son Bharata. The heartbroken king, constrained by his rigid devotion to his given word, accedes to Kaikeyi's demands.Rama accepts his father's reluctant decree with absolute submission and calm self-control which characterises him throughout the story. He is joined by Sita and Lakshmana. When he asks Sita not to follow him, she says,"the forest where you dwell is Ayodhya for me and Ayodhya without you is a veritable hell for me." After Rama's departure, King Dasharatha, unable to bear the grief, passes away. Meanwhile, Bharata who was on a visit to his maternal uncle, learns about the events in Ayodhya. Bharata refuses to profit from his mother's wicked scheming and visits Rama in the forest. He requests Rama to return and rule. But Rama, determined to carry out his father's orders to the letter, refuses to return before the period of exile. However, Bharata carries Rama's sandals,and keeps them on the throne, while he rules as Rama's regent.
Rama, Sita, and Lakshmana journey southward along the banks of river Godavari, where they build cottages and live off the land. At the Panchavatiforest they are visited by a rakshasa woman, Surpanakha, the sister of Ravana. She attempts to seduce the brothers and, failing in this, attempts to kill Sita. Lakshmana stops her by cutting off her nose and ears. Hearing of this, her demon brother, Khara, organises an attack against the princes. Rama annihilates Khara and his demons. When news of these events reaches Ravana, he resolves to destroy Rama by capturing Sita with the aid of the rakshasa Maricha. Maricha, assuming the form of a golden deer, captivates Sita's attention. Entranced by the beauty of the deer, Sita pleads with Rama to capture it. Lord Rama, aware that this is the ploy of the demons, cannot dissuade Sita from her desire and chases the deer into the forest, leaving Sita under Lakshmana's guard. After some time, Sita hears Rama calling out to her; afraid for his life, she insists that Lakshmana rush to his aid. Lakshmana tries to assure her that Rama is invincible and that it is best if he continues to follow Rama's orders to protect her. On the verge of hysterics, Sita insists that it is not she but Rama who needs Lakshmana's help. He obeys her wish but stipulates that she is not to leave the cottage or entertain any strangers. He draws a chalk outline, the Lakshmana rekha, around the cottage and casts a spell on it that prevents anyone from entering the boundary but allows people to exit. With the coast finally clear, Ravana appears in the guise of an ascetic requesting Sita's hospitality. Unaware of the devious plan of her guest, Sita is tricked into leaving the rekha and is then forcibly carried away by the evil Ravana. Jatayu, a vulture, tries to rescue Sita, but is mortally wounded. At Lanka, Sita is kept under the heavy guard of rakshasis. Ravana demands Sita marry him, but Sita, eternally devoted to Rama, refuses. Rama and Lakshmana learn about Sita's abduction from Jatayu and immediately set out to save her.During their search, they meet the demon Kabandha and the ascetic Shabari, who direct them towards Sugriva and Hanuman.
The kishkindha kanda is set in the monkey citadel Kishkindha. Rama and Lakshmana meet Hanuman, the greatest of monkey heroes and an adherent of Sugriva, the banished pretender to the throne of kishkindha. Rama befriends Sugriva and helps him by killing his elder brotherVali thus regaining the kingdom of Kiskindha, in exchange for helping Rama to recover Sita. However Sugriva soon forgets his promise and spends his time in debauchery. The clever monkey queen Tara, second wife of Sugriva (initially wife of Vali), calmly intervenes to prevent an enraged Lakshmana from destroying the monkey citadel. She then eloquently convinces Sugriva to honour his pledge. Sugriva then sends search parties to the four corners of the earth, only to return without success from north, east and west. The southern search party under the leadership of Angad and Hanuman learns from a vulture named Sampati that Sita was taken to Lanka.
The sundara kanda forms the heart of Valmiki's Ramayana and consists of a detailed, vivid account of Hanuman's adventures. After learning about Sita, Hanuman assumes a gargantuan form and makes a colossal leap across the ocean to Lanka. Here, Hanuman explores the demon's city and spies on Ravana. He locates Sita in ashoka grove, who is wooed and threatened by Ravana and his rakshasis to marry Ravana. He reassures her, giving Rama's signet ring as a sign of good faith. He offers to carry Sita back to Rama, however she refuses, reluctant to allow herself to be touched by a male other than her husband. She says that Rama himself must come and avenge the insult of her abduction. Hanuman then wreaks havoc in Lanka by destroying trees and buildings, and killing Ravana's warriors. He allows himself to be captured and produced before Ravana. He gives a bold lecture to Ravana to release Sita. He is condemned and his tail is set on fire, but he escapes his bonds and, leaping from roof to roof, sets fire to Ravana's citadel and makes the giant leap back from the island. The joyous search party returns to Kishkindha with the news
Also known as Yudhdha kand, this book describes the battle between the army of Rama, constructed with the help of Sugriva, and Ravana. Having received Hanuman's report on Sita, Rama and Lakshmana proceed with their allies towards the shore of the southern sea. There they are joined by Ravana's renegade brother Vibhishana. The monkeys named Nala and Nila construct a floating bridge (known as Rama Setu) across the ocean, and the princes and their army cross over to Lanka. A lengthy battle ensues and Rama kills Ravana. Rama then installs Vibhishana on the throne of Lanka. On meeting Sita, Rama asks her to undergo an "agni pariksha" (test of fire) to prove her purity, as he wants to get rid of the rumours surrounding Sita's purity. When Sita plunges into the sacrificial fire, Agni the lord of fire raises Sita, unharmed, to the throne, attesting to her purity. The episode of agni pariksha varies in the versions of Ramayana by Valmiki and Tulsidas. The above version is from Valmiki Ramayana. In Tulsidas's Ramacharitamanas Sita was under the protection of Agni (see Maya Sita) so it was necessary to bring her out before reuniting with Rama. At the expiration of his term of exile, Rama returns to Ayodhya with Sita and Lakshmana, where the coronation is performed. This is the beginning of Ram Rajya, which implies an ideal state with good morals.
The uttara kanda is regarded to be a later addition to the original story by Valmiki and concerns the final years of Rama, Sita, and Rama's brothers. After being crowned king, many years passed pleasantly with Sita. However, despite the agni pariksha (fire ordeal) of Sita, rumours about her purity are spreading among the populace of Ayodhya. Rama yields to public opinion and reluctantly banishes Sita to the forest, where the sage Valmiki provides shelter in his ashrama (hermitage). Here she gives birth to twin boys, Lava and Kusha, who become pupils of Valmiki and are brought up in ignorance of their identity. Valmiki composes the Ramayana and teaches Lava and Kusha to sing it. Later, Rama holds a ceremony during Ashwamedha yagna, which the sage Valmiki, with Lava and Kusha, attends. Lava and Kusha sing the Ramayana in the presence of Rama and his vast audience. When Lava and Kusha recite about Sita's exile, Rama becomes grief-stricken, and Valmiki produces Sita. Sita calls upon the earth, her mother, to receive her and as the ground opens, she vanishes into it. Rama then learns that Lava and Kusha are his children. Later a messenger from the gods appears and informs Rama that the mission of hanuma.
Ramayana Trail - Events in Sri Lanka
The Ramayana originally narrated by the poet Valmiki in Sanskrit is one of the most significant scriptures of India and held in high esteem in other Asian countries as well. In the course more than 2 millennia many versions were written in regional Indian and foreign languages, some of them becam classics as in the case of Tulsidas' Ramcharitamanas or Thailand's Ramakien.
Variants were even reproduced in scriptures of Jains and Buddhists. In that long history of adaptations the Ramayana Trail story is one more variant, interested in identifying locations in Sri Lanka with Ramayana events, some of them told in the classic scriptures, others handed down orally within local traditions in Sri Lanka. Many names of Sri Lankan villages commemorate Sita, for example.
The Ramyana trail is a sequence of places said to be the stopovers and abodes of Sita during her captivity on Lanka, as well as locations of Hanuman's search for her, narrated in the Sundara Kanda (Sundar Kand), and Rama's fight for her liberation, according to the Yuddha Kanda, book 6 of the Ramayana. Sri Lanka nowadays is proud to be regarded as the setting of major events told in the Ramayana. The tourism development authorities and the Mumbai based Chinmaya mission promote more than 50 Ramayana sites. Here we present a list of many of these traditional or newly introduced places of adoration for Lord Rama and his faithful consort Sita Devi and his devoted helper Lord Hanumam, in chronological order.
According to many local traditions, Ravana is believed to have been a mighty prehistoric king of Lanka. As he was reigning altogether 10 kingdoms in different parts of the world at the same time he is usually depicted as having "10 heads" and therefore called "Dasis", as he had one head for each of his ten crowns.
The Ramayana tells: When Ravana's sister Surpanakha went to India she became enamored with the handsome prince Rama as soon as she saw him in his forest hermitage. But since Rama remained faithful to his wife Sita, he did not respond and asked Surpanakha to approach his younger brother Lakshmana who was still unmarried.
Surpanakha, humiliated by this rejection and in anger and jealously, began to attack Sita. But Lakshmana intervened, protected Sita, and punished Surpanakha by cutting off her nose.
Surpanakha outraged flew to Lanka to seek revenge with the help of her powerful brother Ravana. When Ravana asked his sister for the cause of her pain and wrath, Surpanakha answered that Sita, a lady of incomparable beauty, was the cause for it and she had tried to bring Sita as a mistress for Ravana. Ravana decided to take revenge for the insult Surpanakha had suffered, as well as to abduct that lovely Sita for himself.
Apart from tailor-made tours according to your own instructions, we offer carefully worked out tour packagesfocused on Ramayana sites in the highlands or traditional Hindu pilgrimage sites in Tamil areas in the north and east or combining both of it.There are so many places on the so-called Ramayana Trail. Our Ramayana Tours try to include as many as manageable within the certain number of days scheduled for the journey. But there are two remarks to be mentioned in order to avoid wrong expectations
Ravana, using a golden deer as a decoy, visited Sita, when she was left alone by Rama and Lakshmana. In the guise of an old sage he approached and kidnapped her.
According to the Ramayana, King Ravana brought Sita Devi from India to Lanka in a heavenly charriot called "Pushpaka Vimana", which in Sri Lanka usually is identified with the "Dandu Monara Yanthranaya", in Sinhalese language meaning "Large Peacock Machine".
In this prehistoric aeroplane, according to the new Ramayana Trail legend, he brought her to Weragantota in Lanka. The Sinhalese word "Weragantota" can mean "place of aircraft landing". So Weragantota is supposed to be the place of Sita's arrival on the island.The surrounding jungles near Weragantota at the edge of Knuckles Range are believed to be the place where Ravana's capital Lankapura once stood.
The Ramayana describes the magnificent palace for queen Mandothari, where Sita Devi was kept in captivity after her arrival in Lanka. According to the Ramayana Trail legend she was moved to nowaday's Sita Kotuwa later on, these Sinhalese words mean "Sita’s Fortress". The ruins that are found here in an idyllic location of jungle streams and waterfalls are the remains of an ancient Buddhist forest monestary of Sri Lanka's Buddhist Anuradhapura period.
The Ramayana Trail legend furthermore states, that Ravana had an aircraft repair center at Gurulupotha close to Sita Kotuwa, the reason for this assumption is that the Sinhalese word "Gurulupotha" can be translated as "birds' parts", and Ravana's aeroplane was called "Dhandu Monara", meaning "flying peacock", a kind of bird aircraft.
As Sita decided not to live inside palace rooms belonging to any other man than Rama, her wish was respected in so far as she could stay in a grove or garden called Ashoka Vatika or Ashoka Vana. According to the Ramayana's book called Sundara Kanda this grove seems to have been close to the city and palaces of Lankapura. But the Ramayana Trail legend's version is that Sita had to be moved across almost the whole hillcountry to reach this grove, and the trail left by her transfer is called the "chariot path". Ravana is said to have chosen this route in order to impress Sita Devi by showing her the splendour and beauty of his kingdom. Indeed, the scenery along this charriot path is as impressive as lovely. Nowadays' Kandy-Nuwara Eliya main road runs almost parallel to the chariot path and is a a touristic highlight because of its panoramic views.
The grass lands atop Sri Lanka's mountain ranges are called Patanas. Their origin is still obscure, whether natural or manmade. The Ramayana Trail legend suggests these barren lands to be remnants of Sita's journey to the Ashoka Vatika grove. There are places of Patana grass land called "Sita Pokuna", meaning "Sita Pond", though there are no ponds to be found at some of these places. They are said to have dried up because of Sita's grief. Or the other way around: Those ponds existing are said to be the remains of Sita's tears. This is why they are called "Sita tear ponds", too.
In this area in the surroundings of Pusselawa there are many large trees whith bright red blooms. These flowers are called Sita flowers. Sita flowers are said to be endemic to this area, but actually they grow in many parts of the highlands. The flowers' configuration of the petals and pistils are said to resemble a human figure carrying a bow, and therefore representing Lord Rama.
Not far away from the Pusselawa - Nuwara Eliya main road there is a village called Kondagala, known as Kondakalai in Tamil. Kondagala, like many other cities and villages in Sri Lanka, is believed to derive its name from events associated with the Ramayana. When king Ravana took Sita Devi in a chariot to Ashoka Vatika, her hairs got deranged because of the speed of the chariot. "Konda kalai" in Tamil means "deranging of hair." Furthermore, this is an area where rice balls called Sita Gooli can be found. Ravana had offered them to to Sita, when he carried her on his charriot to Ashoka Vatika. But Sita Devi refused this food, since she did not want to consume anything provided by her kidnapper. This is why Sita, during this journey, scattered the rice balls all over the place, and they are found till date along the chariot path. Local villagers prescribe Sita Goolis for their children as a cure for headaches and stomach disorders. The farmers keep them in their cash boxes or grain pots for prosperity. It is claimed that carbon dated testing has been done in Tokyo and Delhi on these rice balls and ascertained them to be more than 5000 years old.
Ravana Goda is another place in this area where Sita Devi stayed during her transit. This is situated near the Kotmale reservoir opposite to Ramboda rock.
The final destination of Sita's transfer, the famed Ashoka Vatika grove, nowadays is identified with the surroundings of the Sita Amman temple in Sita Eliya close to Nuwara Eliya. This is the place where Sita was held in captivity during most of the time she had to stay in Lanka, a few months at least, maybe even a year. Sita is said to have bathed regularly in the nearby stream. About a century ago three images were discovered in the stream, one of which was that of Sita. It is suggested that the deities have been worshipped here for centuries. Nowadays' Hakgala Gardens at the base of the Hakgala Rock are believed to have been part of the Ashoka Vatika, too. There is one more of the places called Sita Pokuna at the Hakgala rock jungle area.
The summit of the mountain next to the mountain range overlooking Frotoft Tea Estate in Pussellawa is the place where Hanuman first set his foot on mainland Lanka after jumping across the ocean, as the beginning of the Sundara Kanda goes. The mountain known as Pawala Malai is visible from this mountain range. In the 1980th India's famous Swami Chinmayananda on one of his many journeys abroad visited Sri Lanka and identified this area as being full of Hanuman energy. This is why the Chinmaya mission branch of Sri Lanka purchased jungle land near Ramboda and built the Shri Bhakta Hanuman Kovil, the first major temple in Sri Lanka dedicated to Lord Hanuman.
In particular, Ashoka Vatika mentioned above is the place where Lord Hanuman finally found Sita and was able to identify himself as her husband's true messenger by showing her Rama's ring. Holes at the banks of the stream mentioned above are of different sizes, therefore they are supposed to be footprints of Lord Hanuman, who, according to the Ramayana, changed his size during his visit in the Ashoka Vatika. When he approached the Ashoka Vatika in search for Sita he was only a small monkey, but when he in anger about the way Sita was treated began uprooting the grove's trees and devastating Lankapura's palaces he had transformed his size to that of giant. In this way Hanuman tested the strength of demon king Ravana and his army of Rakshasas. After being captured by the Rakshasa guards, Hanuman was punished at Ravana's court by setting his tail on fire. Hanuman in turn with his burning tail set fire to the houses in Lankapura and devasted it. Ussangoda in the deep south is a barren land said to be one such torched area.
Hanuman later on returned to Lord Rama in India in order to announced the good news, that Sita was still alive and finally found. On the way back to India Hanuman is said to have rested on the hilltop Mani Kattuther belonging to the Labookellie Tea Estate. A small open shrine with statues can be seen on this rock, sometimes visited by locals, but not easy to reach by vehicles.
Sita's hiding places
After seeing Hanuman’s powers and capabilities, King Ravana decided to hide Sita at various secret locations, as a precautionary measure. Ravanagoda, which means "Ravana’s place", in the Kotmale area, is said to have been one such complex of tunnels and caves.
Ishtripura caves near Welimada are supposed to belong to another ingenious network of underground paths, interconnected with all major spots of Lankapura. Ishtripura means "Women city". This is said to refer to the retinue of ladies Ravana made available to look after Sita.
Kondagala or Kondakattugala refers to the many tunnels and caves in this area. This is believed to be part of the huge network mentioned above connecting all the major areas of King Ravana’s empire. Sita Devi took bath in this very stream and had dried her hair sitting on a rock and then put clips to her hair, hence this rock is known as Konda Kattugala. This is situated in the Welimada area, too.
The Ramyana Trail legend claims, that this presumed tunnel network is an architectural achievement of king Ravana. These tunnels are said to have served as quick ways of transport through the hills and also as secret passages, to all cities, airports and dairy farms. The tunnels are not explored or proven to exist, the caves believed to be the entrances or exits of such tunnels are usually considered to be natural formations. The Buddhist shrine at Kalutara is one more of these tunnel mouths at one of Ravana's palaces. Additional existing tunnel ends are situated at Welimada, Ravana cave, Dova, Senapitiya at Halagala, Ramboda, Labookellie, Wariyapola near Matale, and the above mentioned Sitakotuwa near Hasalaka, along with many more tunnels. Some believe that Ravana had a tunnel that went even to South America, in which he had kept parts his gold treasures.
Lanka war preparations Prior to the battle king Ravana’s son Meghanatha propitiated Lord Shiva with penance and pujas, and in turn was granted supernatural powers by Lord Shiva. Gayathri Pitham (also spelled Gayathri Peedam) in Sita Eliya is believed to be the location of this penance.
Dondra, Seenigama and Hikkaduwa are beaches or islands at the southern and southwestern coast of Lanka where Sugriva, king of the Vanara monkey army, prepared for his onslaught on King Ravana’s forces from the southern flank.
After arrival on the island the monkey army supporting Lord Rama suffered from water shortage. Nilawari on the Jaffna peninsula is believed to be the spot where Lord Rama shot an arrow to the ground to obtain water for his Vanara soldiers.
During the height of the battle Indrajit, Ravana's elder son, beheaded a lookalike of Sita Devi in front of Hanuman to break his spirit. This story is believed to have happened at Sitawaka in the Avissawella area.
Battle of Lanka
Yudhaganapitiya, meaning battlefield in Sinhala, is a place in nowadays' remote Wasgamuwa national park. It is here where the major battles took place, according to the Ramayana Trail legend. But sometimes, instead of Yudhaganapitiya, Yudaganawa in the south of the island is said to be the setting of this final battle described in the 6th part of the Ramayana called Yuddha Kanda, meaning war hymn or battle book.
After being hit by Indrajit’s Brahmastram arrow, both Rama and Lakshmana as well as the monkey army lay seriously wounded and unconscious on the battle field. There was no other way to cure them, the veteran monkey Jambavan instructed Hanuman, than to go to the Sanjeevani Parvatha, the hill of herbs between Rishhaba and Kilasa peaks in the Himalayas, and to collect and bring the necessary medicinal herbs to Lanka.
As Hanuman was not able to identify the herbs (or remember their names), as the story goes, he uprooted the entire peak with all the herbs growing there and returned with that whole peak to Lanka. But parts of the mountain fell down on five different places in Sri Lanka; namely Rumassala in Galle, Dolukanda in Hiripitiya, Ritigala close to Habarana, Thalladi in Mannar, and Kachchathivu island in the far north.
Pathala Lok, an area internationally better known as "Horton Plains" national park, is a plateau in 2000 metres hight. This plain is believed to be the area where Ahiravan had captured and hidden both Lord Rama and Lakshmana. Later on Lord Hanuman by assuming his five-headed form, Panchamuga (Panchamukha), was able to rescue them. This episode is not part of Valmiki's original Sanskrit version of the Ramayana, but narrated in many regional variants, for example in Telugu.
Lord Indra requested warrior god Karthikaya (also called Subramaniya) to go to battle in order to protect Lord Rama from king Ravana’s Brahmastram weapon. This was at Kataragama, which is now a very popular place for worship among Sri Lankans. Dunuvila lake is a place from which Lord Rama fired the Brahmastram arrow at king Ravana, as "Dunu" means "arrow" and "Vila" means "Lake" in Sinhalese.
Ravana was directing his army from the nearby Lakgala. Here King Ravana was finally killed by the Brahmastram fired by Lord Rama. The top of Lakgala is flat, this is believed to be the effect of the powerful Brahmastram weapon. "Lakgala" is derived from the Sinhala term "Elakke Gala", meaning "Target Rock". It is believed that earlier on it was from this very same rock a first glimpse of Lord Rama’s army was sighted by the Rakshasas. Not far away from Lakgala there is the island's only traditional Rama temple at Rattota.
After Ravana’s death, his body was kept at Yahangala, meaning "Bed Rock" in Sinhala. Yahangala is located along the Mahiyangana - Wasgamuwa road.
After the war, when Rama and Sita met again, Rama seemed to doubt her faithfulness. This is why Sita Devi underwent the fire ordeal called "Agni pariksha", in order to test her innocence and fidelity. Sita came out unscathed and thereby proved her purity to Rama and the world. Divurumpola is believed to be the setting of this fire test, as this Sinhalese name means "place of oath".
The spot was initially fenced and walled to protect it from the surrounding wilderness. Then one of the 30 original saplings of the Anuradhapura bodhi tree was planted here as a mark of respect for the place. Later on a small pagoda was built close to the Bodhi tree. The temple now depicts events of the Ramayana epic. The temple is revered for the oath taken by Sita Devi, this is why it became a common place for swearing done in order to settle disputes between parties, until the present day.
Vantharamulai is a place where Rama, Sita, Lakshmana, and Hanuman rested after the turmoil of the battle. Amaranthakali is believed to be the place where they had their first meal together after the Lanka war.
When returning to India in one of King Ravana’s vimanas, Rama thought he was followed by a curse called "Brahmahasti Dhosham", in form of a malevolent black shadow or dark cloud, capable of taking his life, as he - by killing Ravana - committed the worst crime, namely killing a Brahmin. When the vimana was passing over Munneshwaram, Rama felt the vimana vibrating, and he realized the Brahmahasthi Dosham was not following him at this particular spot.
So Rama felt safe from the Brahmahasti Dhosham at Munneshwaram. This is why he stopped the vimana at this juncture and asked Lord Shiva for a remedy. Shiva blessed Lord Rama and advised installing and praying to four lingams in order to get rid of the Dhosham. Munneswaram means the first temple for Shiva (Munnu + Eshwaran). A Shiva lingam was already erected here when lord Rama visited the place. So it is believed that Munneswaram predates the Ramayana, this means a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva was already existing here prior to Rama's penance.
Rama installed his first lingam for Shiva at Manavari about 5 kms from here, near the banks of Deduru Oya. This was followed by the lingams at Thiru Koneshwaram in Trincomalee, Thiru Ketheeshwaram near Mannar, and Rameshwaram in India. These Tamil Ishwaram temples are traditional places of Shiva worship, but dedicated to Vishnu's Avatar Lord Rama, too. They have a much more ancient history as places of Ramayana events than most of those newly discovered Ramayana Trail sites in the hillcountry.
After King Ravana’s death, Ravana’s brother Vibhishana, a supporter of Rama during the Lanka war, was coronated as a king of Lanka by Lakshmana at Kelaniya, because Lord Rama had to return to India to continue his self-exile of 14 years to fulfil the commitment to his father. Kelaniya is the closest Ramayana site to Colombo city. Apart from the Buddhist main shrine in Kelaniya there is a separate shrine for king Vibishana. There are murals enshrined outside the Buddhist temple depicting the crowning of Vibishana. Vibishana is considered to be one of the four guardian deities of Sri Lanka, the protector of the island's west in particular.
Hindu Festivals in Sri Lanka
- Thai Pongal
Tamil Harvest Festival, same day as Northern India's Lohri or Makar Sankranti
- Maha Shivaratri
Holiest night for devotees of Shiva, important for Tamils in Sri Lanka
- Shri Rama Navami
Lord Rama's birth, not as much celebrated in Sri Lanka as in Northern India
- Hanuman Jayanthi
Lord Hanuman's birth, not as popular in Sri Lanka as in India
Celebrates the onset of spring, along with fertility of the land, less boisterous among Tamils
- Sinhala and Tamil New Year's Eve
First day of the Tamil month Chithirai
- Ther Chariot festival
At Koneshwaram in Trincomalee, 22 days preparation for New Year
End of Siri Pada pilgrimage season
- New Moon for New Solar Year
- Pillaiyar Kovil Tirtham
In Mamangam Pillaiyar Kovil & in Batticaloa' downtown (June or July)
- Mayurapathy Chariot Festival
Sri Paththirakaali Amman Hindu Temple, Colombo
- Vel Festival
Hindu festival in Colombo (July or August), two white bulls carry an idol of Lord Murukan from Kathiresan Temple in Pettah to Bambalapitiya
- Nallur Festival in Jaffna
with 25 days the island' second longest religious festival
- Keerimalai Festival
at Mavittapuram Kandaswamy, procession with drums and water-cutting ceremony
- Udappu Draupadi Festival
Tamil Harvest Festival, same day as Northern India's Lohri or Makar Sankranti
- Kataragama Festival
Sri Lanka's most spectacular festival dedicated to a Hindu god
- Kandy Perahera
Sri Lanka's most famous procession, Buddhist Tooth Relic and Hindu Devales
- Ganesh Chaturthi Festival
Vinayaka Chavithi, birthday of Lord Ganesha
- Navarathri Festival
nine-days Hindu Festival (September or October)
- Munneshwaram Festival
Sri Lanka's longest temple festival, taking 4 weeks, near Chilaw
- Vallipuram Temple Festival
at Vallipuram Vishnu temple on the Jaffna peninsula (sometimes August)
- Selva Sannidhi Temple Festival
14 days on the Jaffna peninsula
Hindu festival of lights, celebrating the victory of good over evil and the return of Rama
- Adivel Festival
chariot festival in Colombo in honour of Lord Muruganand his consorts
- Adam’s Peak Festival
in Dalhousie, Hatton side of Siri Pada, official opening of Siri pada season