The Ramayana is an ancient Sanskrit epic that chronicles the story of Prince Rama, who was the seventh avatar of the Hindu god, Vishnu. A major part of this legend includes the kidnapping of his wife, Sita, by a demon king from Lanka, and Rama’s quest to recover her.
Curious to learn more and explore these legendary places during your group trip to Sri Lanka? There are more than 50 sites that belong to the Ramayana Trail, but if you’re strapped for time; here are some of the major sites on the Ramayana Trail that you can visit.Rama’s Bridge (or Adam’s Bridge)
The story of Rama’s journey to Sri Lanka begins with the kidnapping of his wife, Sita. The demon king Ravana is said to have travelled to India and captured Sita while Rama was away, carrying her on his airborne chariot to his home on the island of Lanka (modern-day Sri Lanka). Rama chased after them, but found a hurdle in crossing from India to Sri Lanka.
According to Hindu legend, an army of warrior monkeys built a bridge between the two countries to allow Rama to cross into Lanka and pursue the demon king. The remains of Rama’s Bridge can be seen today extending from Mannar Island in the north of Sri Lanka, to Pamban Island in India’s south. It is a chain of disconnected limestone shoals and sandbanks, covering a distance of approximately 48 kilometres. It is also known as Adam’s Bridge due to claims from early Islamic sources that Adam, the first man, crossed to India from this bridge after falling to earth at Adam’s Peak.Ravana Cave and Ravana Falls
After kidnapping Sita, King Ravana is said to have hidden her in the caves behind Ravana Falls. The area was once shrouded by a cloak of thick jungle that would have easily hide the waterfall and cave away from prying eyes. Located in the Ravana Ella Wildlife Sanctuary, in Ella, the entrance to Ravana Cave lies around five kilometres away from the Falls, but the two are said to be connected to each other. The cave is more than a thousand metres above sea level. Ravana Falls reaches a height of 25 metres and is known as the widest waterfall in Sri Lanka, and legend has it that Sita bathed in a pool of water gathered by these falls during her confinement here.
The best time to visit Ravana Falls is between June and November, during the rainy season, when the waters gush over the rocks and cascades in stunning form to the pool below. Be careful when attempting to swim here as the rocks can be slippery and the gush of water might be too strong.
After visiting the cave and falls, try these other group activities in Ella too.The Sri Munneswaram Devasthanam Temple
Located in the village of Munneswaram, a 9 minute drive from the town of Chilaw, this temple complex dedicated to Lord Shiva is considered the oldest Hindu temple in Sri Lanka. King Ravana was a Brahmin, which is a sacred title in Hinduism. When Rama killed him, he had committed a major sin in the religion, and so turned to prayer to repent. The Munneswaram temple is said to be the location where Rama prayed to Lord Shiva for guidance after killing the king.
The temple complex is one of the Pancha Inshwarams, which are a group of five ancient Hindu kovils dedicated to Shiva that are dotted around Sri Lanka’s coast. The complex contains five different temples, one of which is honoured by Buddhist worshipers. In 1578, the temple was destroyed by the Portuguese, with the entire building left in ruins except for its basement. Members of the local community managed to save some of the temple’s idols before its destruction, and it was rebuilt by a Sri Lankan king before again being destroyed by the Portuguese in the early 17th century, and rebuilt by the locals.
Adams Bridge Ram Sethu
Mannaris an island in the northwestern part of Sri Lanka and one can visitAdam’s BridgeorRama Sethuin Talaimannar which is also one of the essential parts of Ramayana. Ram Sethu is a legendary bridge built by Rama with the help of his army to reach Lanka.
This waterfall measures approximately 25 m (82 ft) in height and cascades from an oval-shaped concave rock outcrop. During the local wet season, the waterfall turns into what is said to resemble an areca flower with withering petals. But this is not the case in the dry season, where the flow of water reduces dramatically. The falls form part of the Ravana Ella Wildlife Sanctuary, and is located 6 km (3.7 mi) away from the local railway station atElla.
Situated near Ella, Ravana Caves were build to connect various locations of Ravana empire, they were a secret passage which serves as quick means of transport through the hills. Existing tunnel mouths are also situated at Ishtripura in Welimada, Senapitiya in Halagala, Ramboda, Labookelle, Wariyapola in Matale, and Seetha Kotuwa in Hasalaka. The Ravana Ella Falls and the Ravana Ella Cave are located close to the Wellawaya and the valley is called Ella Gap.
The Sri Munneswaram Devasthanam Temple
Munneswaram temple is an important regional Hindu temple complex in Sri Lanka. It has been in existence at least since 1000 CE, although myths surrounding the temple associate it with the popular Indian epic Ramayana, and its legendary hero-king Rama. The temple is one of five ancient temples dedicated to Shiva in the region.
It was the location where Sita, the wife of Rama, was held captive by Ravana after her abduction, also because she refused to stay in Ravana's palace and preferred to stay under shimshapa tree in Ashoka Vatika.It was here that Ravana's wife Mandodari came to meet her and also where Hanuman met her for the first time, and identified himself with the finger ring of Rama.
Sita Kotuwais one of the main places to visit while having a Ramayana Tour in SriLanka, it was this place whereSitawas held captive after kidnapping byRavana.The place is surrounded by a waterfall and beautiful stream and the place was named ‘Sitha Kotuwa’ or ‘Sitha fort’ as Sita stayed here.
Divurumpolais a place where Sita did ‘Agni Pariksha‘ to prove her innocence. When Sita plunges into the fire, Agni the lord of fire prevented any harm to Sita proving her innocence.
Sigiriya,also known as Lion Rock, according to legend Sigiriya is one of the places where Ravana kept Sita captive in Sri Lanka.
This temple is located about 6km north of Chilaw on Chilaw – Puttalam road. It is only one hour and thirty minutes from Katunayake Airport where it is situated near the river side estate – Sittamadama. It’s a typical Tamil temple but of significance for Hindu pilgrims from India who travel along the Ramayana trail to visit places connected to Lord Rama.
【Text by Lakpura™. Images by Google, copyright(s) reserved by original authors.】