On the forested mountainside sits the ancient monastery of Ritigala, whose mysterious ruins date back to the 1st century and are steeped in legend.
Ritigala is just over forty kilometres away from the ancient city of Anuradhapura, making it a great place to explore while in the area. The ruins of the monastery spread out over an area of 60 acres and are situated on the eastern side of the Ritigala Mountain – a Strict Nature Reserve and homes to many species of animal.
A collection of five individual temples, the Munneswaram Temple Complex near Chilaw is a particularly important site for Hindus in Sri Lanka and is thought to date back to as early as 1000 CE.
The largest and most prominent of the five temples is the central temple which is dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva. The other temples are dedicated to Ganesha, Kali and Ayyanayake, while the last of the five temples is for Buddhists.
Aukana is the tallest Buddha statue in Sri Lanka, standing 12 metres tall. Located in the village of Aukana (close to Kekirawa), central Sri Lanka, the imposing statue dates back to the 5th century and is one of the best and most well preserved statues on the island.
Now a magnet for tourist to Sri Lanka, the forty foot statue is carved out of an imposing slab of granite rock and is an example of Abhayamudra, or a “gesture of fearlessness”, with the right arm bent and raised to shoulder height, palm exposed. This gesture represents peace, protection and the dispelling of fear.
Carved into the granite rock face, the statue is widely considered the best example of a Buddha statue on the island and was skilfully carved. The robe was delicately carved and beautifully conveys the realistic form and shape of the underlying body. The face is placid in expression, projecting and reinforcing the fearlessness the statue represents.
One of the oldest and most sacred Buddhist temples in Sri Lanka, the Aluvihare Rock Temple is a treasure trove of ancient relics from the 3rd century BC right up until the present day.
Founded by first Buddhist king, Devanampiyatissa, the temple remains a place of worship and is laid out over several levels of the lush and mountainous landscape. The temple and surrounding area is a wonderful and intriguing place to visit during any Sri Lankan tour.