Mihintale Rock – A Must Visit Place in Anuradhapura

Mihintale Rock is a sacred place among Buddhists since there is a very well-known historical story related to the arrival of Buddhism in Sri Lanka. Therefore, it is known to be a sacred Buddhist religious place among Buddhist pilgrims. This location appeals to both locals and tourists. If you love to visit a place full of lots of things all in the same place, including a mini hike, learning history, and moving deep into Sri Lankan culture, we highly suggest this place, which is one of the best-known places for that.

Simply put, we can introduce this place as the place where the inauguration of Buddhism in Sri Lanka took place. Mihintale Rock is also known as “Missaka Pabbata,” “Chetya Pabbata,” “Chetya Giri,” “Ambastala,” and “Miris Pawwa” in Sri Lankan history-related books. It is also a favorite spot among hikers and explorers. There is not only the rock but also a forest reserve. Mihintale Rock is one of the rocks in Sri Lanka where you can see a beautiful view from the summit. Therefore, if you are visiting the sacred city of Anuradhapura, do not forget to include a visit to Mihintale in your itinerary.

 

Mihintale Rock Location

Mihintale Rock is located in Mihintale City, Anuradhapura District, North Central Province, Sri Lanka. To be precise, it is located in Mihintale town, which is located 13 km away from the east side of Anuradhapura town. This rock is located in Mihintale town. To reach there, you can use the Anuradhapura-Trincomalee road.

 

Height and important facts about Mihintale Rock

Mihintale peak is 311 m (1,019 feet) in height. Mihintale Rock, Mihintale Temple, and Viharaya are all located on the same site as Mihintale Rock. There are rock steps carved into the rock in order to reach the summit. It is estimated that 1840 rock-carved steps were required to reach the summit of the rock. There is also a protective fence there to make it easier for the pilgrims and other climbers to reach the summit. It never ceases to amaze me how the ancient Sri Lankan ancestors used the amazing technology of the time to carve the steps into massive rocks. Still, it is hard to believe how much effort they have put in to produce these kinds of massive structures.

 

Religious importance

Sri Lankan Buddhists consider this place as one of the most important religious places for them, as they believe that this is the place where King Devanampiyatissa, also known as King Devana Paa This, met the Buddhist monk arahath “Mihindu,” also known as arahat “Mahinda.” And this meetup led to the establishment of Buddhism in Sri Lanka later on. Buddhism is the main religion in Sri Lanka at present. There is a Buddhist temple on the same site as Mihintale Rock. The Mintale viharaya is the monastery where the monks are living. There is also a Chaithya, which is a stupa structure that Buddhists worship.

There is a Buddhist temple on the same site as Mihintale Rock. King Devanampiyatissa is credited with the construction of numerous monuments, including the Chaithya.

 

Historical importance and historical background

King Tissa, who later became King Devanampiyatissa, is one of the founder kings who ruled in the Kingdom of Anuradhapura. Deepavamsa and Mahavamsa are the main resource books where Sri Lankan history is written on the evidence that King Devanampiyatissa ruled Sri Lanka in the capital of Anuradhapura from 2247 BC to 207 BC.There is a nice story about the arrival of the Anubudu Mihindu Throne in Sri Lanka, as well as the conversation and illusions that occurred between Arahat Mihidu Thero and King Dewanampiyatissa. After all these conversations took place, the King became friendly with the Mihidu thero and decided to embrace Buddhism and become a Buddhist, thus making Buddhism the officially endorsed state religion of Sri Lanka.

 

Architectural importance

There are historically significant memorials on the site of Mihintale Rock. There are ruins of the ancient hospital closer to the entrance to the Rock. For example, the “beheth oruwa,” which has been used since the times of King Devanampiyatissa for medical purposes, is on display there. This “beheth oruwa” is known to be used as a bathtub by filling it with herbal water enriched with Ayurvedic herbs, and it has been used by the Royal family back then. Not just that, there are many other memorials that you could find interesting there that depict early Sri Lankan technology, architecture, royalty, etc.

King Devanampiyatissa built caves separate from Buddhist monasteries for Buddhist monks to live in and continue their religious activities. These caves can also be found in the Mihintale area, as well as in Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa. I am sure this fact will be an interesting fact for those who are enthusiastic about getting to know the history of different countries. The caves, monasteries, and temples depict the special and characteristic construction specifications that were unique to that era.

Not only have the kings provided residential caves for the monks, but they have also provided some other important facilities. such as constructing some pods to collect rainwater for the consumption of the Buddhist monks. Kaludiya pokuna, Naga pokuna, and Singha pokuna are a few ponds that we can see on the site of Mihintale Rock. To date, the Anuradhapura district is not a region that receives rain throughout the year. As a result, the ancient kings who ruled in that area were thoughtful enough to build some ponds and lakes, not only for public and agricultural purposes but also for the animals, who struggle to survive during the periods of the year when there is no rain.

Also, you can see the ancient carvings, and guard stones here. There is a Kantaka Cetiya Vaahalkada that can be seen when you pass the initial set of steps before reaching the Mihintae Rock. You can see the Vaahalkada, which is a structure at the entrance of the stupa and is decorated with some mind-blowing sculptures and carvings. Among these, we can see sculptures of humans, animals, gods, and dwarfs. This Kantaka Cetiya is very famous among Sri Lankan historians because they consider it a very special construction with unique and marvelous technological methods that were available at that time in Sri Lanka.

 

Mihintale Rock has an important festive culture.

Sri Lankans celebrate Poson full moon poya day, which is a public holiday here in Sri Lanka, by engaging in some religious activities celebrating the arrival of Mihindu thero, who is the son of a famous Indian emperor named Ashoka. Emperor Ashoka the Great sent representatives to establish and spread Buddhism in various countries in Asia, Sri Lanka being one of them. Mihintale Rock and Mihintale Temple are highlights of the Poson season in the month of June. Therefore, in June, Mihintale Rock and the Mihintale area will get much more crowded with local pilgrims.

 

Flora and fauna in the area around

The Mihintale Rock is also known as “Ambastala” because the area surrounding the rock is full of mango trees. Not only are mango trees endemic to the dry zone of Sri Lanka’s north central province, but so are many other trees and plants. The temple area has some temple flower trees, Plumeria obtuse, which bear nice flowers and have a very fresh and sweet fragrance. Furthermore, there are some other plant species like Palu (Kaukenia hexandra), Weera (Drypetes sepiaria), Asathu bo (Ficus caudata), and Maara (Acacia lebbeck).

There are numerous plant and animal species to be found in the area surrounding the rock. Such animal species are mammals like monkeys like the purple-faced langur (Semnopithecus vetulus) and the tauque macaque (Macaca sinica), spotted deer, different reptile species such as lizards and snakes, and various insect species such as bees and wasps, etc.

The landscape is very attractive, and you can definitely visit Mihintale Rock on your visit to Sri Lanka if you are someone interested in rock climbing and experiencing the atmosphere of a sacred religious place at the same time.

 

Climate and the best season to visit Mihintale Rock

As mentioned earlier, Mihintale is located in the North Central Province of Sri Lanka. This area is considered to belong to the dry zone. The average annual temperature of Mihintale city is reported at 26.6. Usually, the temperature varies from 25 to 33 throughout the year. When considering a single day, the temperature of the area where the Mihintale rock is does not vary significantly, but the humidity can vary significantly according to the time of the day (day and night).

Mihintale is located in the dry zone of Sri Lanka, so the annual rainfall is lower than in other parts of the island. As a result, it is always a good idea to keep this in mind when planning your visit to this area, as some extra sun protection will be necessary. Also, if you are planning to climb up on the rock, it is always better to come prepared with the necessary equipment. The rainy season in the area where the place is located lies between October and May. June is reported as the month in which you can expect no rain in this area.

The best season to visit this area obviously varies depending on your preference. The month of June is Poson month, when Sri Lankan Buddhists celebrate their second largest religious celebration after Vesak. In the month of May, Sri Lankan Buddhists celebrate their first and largest religious celebrations based around Vesak. Therefore, in these two months of the year, the sacred cities of Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa can get crowded with locals compared to the other months of the year. If you are someone who is interested in experiencing the locals’ religious celebrations, May and June, especially June, are the best months to visit this area. Other than that, if you want to enjoy nature and the historical structures without a lot of crowds, you can visit there in any other month except May and June.

If you are planning to visit Mihintale and climb Mihintale Rock and find accommodations there, it is always good to book a hotel in Mihintale prior to the visit or book a hotel in Anuradhapura since there can be some limited accommodation facilities available in the town of Mihintale as it is a small town and there are not many hotels in the city.

 

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(Cover Image Source: Sri Lanka Maithree Tours from Facebook)

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