A visit to Ritigala MonasteryBack
As legend has it, Lord Hanuman traveled over Ritigala, and is said to have accidentally dropped a chunk of a Himalayan mountain he was carrying back from India for his mortally wounded brother Lord Rama, thus accounting for the pocket of vegetation of healing herbs and plants at the strange mini-plateau at the summit of Ritigala, distinct from the dry-zone flora of the lower slopes and surrounding plains. At 766 m (2513 feet) above sea level, and 600 m above the surrounding plains, Ritigala is the highest mountain in northern Sri Lanka.
The ruins of Ritigala monastery are located on the eastern side of the mountain at the foot of the gorge which separates the main peak from the northern ridge of the range, covering an area of 24 hectares (59 acres). The 3776-acre Ritigala mountain range consists of four peaks, the main (and highest peak) is located at the south of the range, and named Ritigala Kanda. Ruins that can be seen include an ancient 366 meter man-made reservoir from 437 -367 BC. The edge of the reservoir is followed in a clockwise direction to arrive at the other bank, and cross the bed of the stream feeding the reservoir. The steep steps here onwards lead up to a beautifully constructed pavement, a stone path 1.5 meters wide that meander upwards through the forest, linking the major buildings of the monastery. The stone cut path is laid with interlocking four-sided slabs of hewn stone. Three large circular platforms at intervals along the pavement allow for rest. There are stone structures named double-platforms, which are characteristic of Ritigala and other forest monasteries. Raised platforms formed by retaining walls of massive stones are found in pairs, linked together by a stone bridge. The main axis of the combined platforms is set exactly east west. The structures were then most possibly roofed and divided into rooms. These are believed to be used for solitary practices such as meditation, as well as congregational functions such as teaching and ceremony.