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 Toddy
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.Trincomalee
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.
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.
Gayathri Pitam, also spelled Gayaththri Peedam, inside Nuwara Eliya town is the first and most important temple built for Gayathri Amman in Sri Lanka, Gayatri being an aspect of Saraswati and the Universal Mother. The temple was founded by the Gayathri Siddhar Swami Murusegu. The Shiva Lingam for this Tamil temple was brought from the Holy River Narmada. Gayathri Pitam is said to be the place from where King Ravana's son Meghanath propitiated Lord Shiva with penance and worship and in turn was granted super natural powers by the mighty god.
The Sita Amman Temple, located halfway between the highland village Sita Eliya and the Hakgala Botanical Gardens, has become the most venerated of all Ramayana Trail sites in Sri Lanka, because it is believed to be the place where Sita lived most of the time of her captivity on the island of Lanka. After she refused to stay in Ravana's magnificent palace she was transferred to Ashok Vatika or Ashokavanam where she lived under Ashoka trees. It was here that Ravana's wife Mandodari visited her and that Hanuman met her for the first time, identifying himself with the finger ring of Rama. Sita is said to have bathed in the nearby stream. There are remarkable holes in the rocks at the river bank believed to be footprints of Lord Hamunan
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 Sinhalese word Ishtripura or Shtripura means "area of women". It is said that Ravana shifted Sita to this cave as a precautionary measure after Lord Hanuman's advent on Lanka. Legend has it that Sitadevi took a bath in the nearby stream and afterwards dried her hair sitting on a rock and put clips to her hair, hence this rock is known as Konda Kattu Gala, Konda means hair, and Kattu are clips.
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.