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Ramayana sites in Sri Lanka


The Ramayana is an ancient Sanskrit epic attributed to the poet Valmiki and an important part of the Hindu canon. One of the most important literary works of ancient India, the Ramayana consists of 7 chapters (Kānda), and narrates the story of Rama’s wife Sita being abducted by Rāvana, the demon (Rākshasa) king of Lanka.

According to the Ramayana, king Rāvana brought Sita Devi from India in a “Pushpaka Vimana” which is widely known in Sri Lanka as the “Dandu Monara Yanthranaya”, or Large Peacock Machine in Sinhala.

Ramayana has fascinated many generations, and had a profound impact on art and culture in the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia.

Sri Lanka shares a special bond with India geographically, historically, culturally and spiritually. The Ramayana begins with Ayodhya in India and climaxes at Lankapura. 

People in Sri Lanka through generations believed that king Rāvana ruled this country. There are many sites in Sri Lanka which are connected to the Ramayana. Below is a list of places which we have identified as connected to the Ramayana and listed according to the Ramayana epic.

The Kidnapping of Sita by Rāvana.

Rāvana was the king of Lanka and another 9 kingdoms. He was known as Dasis (or Dasa Shirsha) meaning 10 heads, because he had ten crowns, one each for his ten kingdoms.

His sister Surpanakha went to Jambudweepa for some business.
Surpanakha chanced upon Rama at his hermitage and became enamored with the handsome prince. Rama being faithful to his wife Sita did not respond and asked Surpanakha to approach Lakshmana who was unmarried. Surpanakha who felt humiliated by this, tried to attack Sita in anger saying Sita was the cause of the men’s contempt for her. Lakshmana then intervened and cut off Surpanakha’s nose.

Surpanakha terrified and in pain, flew at once to Lanka to seek the protection of Rāvana.
When Rāvana asked his sister for the cause, Surpanakha said that she had seen Sita, a lady of incomparable beauty, and wanted to bring her for Rāvana.
Ravana resolved to take revenge for the insult his sister has suffered, as well as to get lovely Sita for him self; and set out to abduct Sita and bring her to Lanka.

Ravana using a golden deer as a decoy visited Sita when she was alone in the guise of an old sage, abducted and brought her to Weragantota in Lanka in his plane, the Pushpaka Vimana.

Weragantota means the Place of Aircraft landing in Sinhala. This is the first place Sita Devi was brought to Lankapura (capita city of king Rāvana).
Sita Devi was kept at queen Mandothari’s palace at Lankapura. The place Sita was held captive is called Sita Kotuwa; which means Sita’s Fort in Sinhala. It is believed Rāvana had an aircraft repair centre at Gurulupotha close to Sita Kotuwa. Gurulupotha means Parts of Birds in Sinhala.

Sita taken from Sita Kotuwa to Ashok Vatika

Ravana moved Sita from Sita Kotuwa to Ashok Vatika the salubrious garden in the mountains. The route too was said to be spectacularly beautiful, as Ravana wanted to show Sita the beauty of his kingdom.
The Chariot Path atop the mountain range is still visible. The Sita Tear Pond close to the Chariot Path is believed to have been formed by Sita Devi’s tears. Visitors could also see the famed Sita Flowers which are endemic to this area.

Sita’s captivity at Ashok Vatika (also known as Ashoka/ Asoka Vanam)

Ashok Vatika is a garden where Rāvana held Sita captive. This is in the area of Sita Eliya, close to the city of Nuwara Eliya. The Hakgala Gardens located at the base of the Hakgala Rock forms part of the famed Ashok Vatika. The Sita Pokuna is a barren area atop the Hakgala Rock Jungle where Sita was kept captive. Sita Devi is set to have bathed in a stream at Sita Eliya. The Sita Amman Temple is located at this spot.

Search for Sita

Sugriva, (also spelled Sugreeva) ruler of the Vanara or monkey kingdom, ordered his monkey armies to search for Sita in all four corners of the earth. Hanuman, Angada, Jambavan and other heroes traveled southwards. Hanuman was the only one strong enough to cross the ocean to reach Lanka.
Whilst crossing the ocean, Hanuman was tested by Surasa Devi, the Naga maiden en-route to Lanka. This place is now called Nagadeepa.

Hanuman meets Sita at Ashok Vatika and is captured by Rāvana

Hanuman after meeting Sita at Ashok Vatika, decided to test the strength of king Rāvana and his army of Rakshas. He invited battle by uprooting trees and destroying the garden. Upon being captured by the Rakshasa guards, Hanuman was brought in the presence of Rāvana. As a punishment, Hanuman’s tail was set on fire. Hanuman in turn set fire to the houses in the city. Ussangoda is one such torched area.

Hanuman on the way back to India rested at Mani Kattuthar. Near by is the village of Kondagala, known as Kondakalai in Tamil, where Sita is said to have deranged her hair whilst passing the place. The village also contains Sita Gooli which are rice balls offered by Ravana to Sita; which she refused and threw away.

Sita is hidden after the visit of Hanuman

Upon hearing Hanuman’s threat and seeing his capabilities, King Rāvana decided to hide Sita at various secret locations as a precautionary measure. Rāvanagoda which means Ravana’s place in the Kotmale area is one such complex of tunnels and caves. Istreepura is another ingenious network of paths which are interconnected all major areas of king Rāvana’s city. Istreepura means Area of Women in Sinhala. This refers to the retinue of ladies Ravana made available to look after Sita.

Preparing for battle

Gayathri Peedum is the place where Ravana’s son Mehganath was granted super natural powers by Lord Shiva prior to the battle.

Neelawari is located in the North of the country in the Jaffna peninsula is a place Lord Rama shot an arrow to the ground to obtain water for his army upon arriving Lanka.

Dondra, Seenigama & Hikkaduwa are places in the South of Lanka where Sugriva (king of Vanaras) prepared for his onslaught on king Ravana’s forces from the Southern flank.

War breaks out

During the height of the battle Indrajit, elder son of Rāvana beheaded a lookalike of Sita Devi in front of Hanuman to break his spirit. This place is known as Sitawaka in the Avissawella area.

Yudhaganawa, battlefield in Sinhala is a place in Wasgamuwa where the major battles took place.

Upon being hit by Indrajit’s Brahmastra, both Rama, Lakshmana and the monkey army lay unconscious on the battle field. To cure them Jambavan the veteran monkey instructed Hanuman to go to Sanjeewani Parvatha, the hill of herbs between Rishhaba and Kilasa peaks in the Himalayas and bring the necessary medicinal herbs. As he could not identify which herbs to select, Hanuman uprooted the entire peak with all the herbs growing there from the mountain and returned to Lanka.
Parts of the hill fell on five places in Sri Lanka; namely Rumassala in Galle, Dolukanda in Hiripitiya, Ritigala close to Habarana, Talladi in Mannar and Katchchathivu in the north.

Lord Karthikaya Subramaniyam was requested to go to battle by Lord Indra to protect Lord Rama from king Rāvana’s Brahmastra. This was at Kataragama, which is now a very popular place for worship among Sri Lankans.

The fall of Rāvana

Dunuwila is a place from which Lord Rama fired the Brahmastra at king Rāvana who was directing the war from Laggala, where he was killed.

Laggala is derived from the Sinhala term “Elakke Gala”, which means Target Rock. Laggala served as a sentry point to observe Lord Rama’s army. Geographically, this is the highest part of the northern region of Rāvana’s city.

After Rāvana’s death, his body was kept at Yahangala, Divan or Bed Rock in Sinhala for the country men to pay their respect for their departed King.

After the war

Sita met Rama after the war, and Divurumpola is the place she under went the “Agni” test of fire where she proved her innocence and purity to Rama. Divurumpola means the Place of Oath in Sinhala.

Vantharamulai is a place that Lord Rama, Sita Devi, Lakshmana and Hanuman rested after the turmoil of the war. Amaranthakali is believed to be the place where they had the first meal after the war.

When returning to India, Rama felt he was followed by a “Brahmahasti Dhosham”, a dark cloud capable of taking his life, as he had killed Rāvana, a Brahamin. Rama felt safe from the “Brahmahasti Dhosham” at Munneswaram. This is the place Rama prayed to Lord Shiva and where God Shiva asked Lord Rama to install four Lingams to get rid of the Dhosham. These four Lingams were installed at Manavari, Thiru Koheneshwaram, Thiru Ketheshwaram and Ramaeshwaram in India.

After king Rāvana’s death, Rāvana’s brother Vibhishana was coroneted as a king of Lanka by Lakshmana at Kelaniya.

Other places of interests connected to Ramayana in Sri Lanka

  1. Kanniya - The place where King Rāvana carried out the last rites for his mother.
  2. Gavagala or Ghoushala - King Rāvana’s dairy farm.
  3. Airports of King Rāvana
    1. Thotupolakanda (means Mountain Port in Sinhala) at Horton plains
    2. Weragantota (means Place of Aircraft landing in Sinhala) in Mahiyangana
    3. Ussangoda (means Area of Lift in Sinhala) in the Southern coast
    4. Wariapola (means Aircraft Port in Sinhala) in Matale and
    5. Wariapola (means Aircraft Port in Sinhala) in Kurunagala.
  1. Neelawari- A place where Lord Rama aimed an arrow to obtain water.
  2. Panchamuga Anjanaya Temple- The first Anjanaya Temple in Sri Lanka.
  3. Rama Temple at Rattota- One of the few Rama’s temple in Sri Lanka.
  4. Maha Rāvanagoda/ Kuda Rāvanagoda- Ravana’s places in the south.
  5. Veedurupola - Buddhist temple dedicated to research on Ramayana.
  6. Sri Baktha Hanuman Temple, Ramboda- Ramboda is a place where Hanuman was searching for Sita Devi. The name is also associated with Rama’s army. Rampadai, menas Rama’s force in Tamil. The Chinmaya mission of Sri Lanka has built a temple with Hanuman as a presiding deity at this location.

Sites connected to local belief, but yet to be discovered

  1. Rāvana’s mummy – Locals believe Rāvana’s mummified body is hidden within the mountain range of Harasbatha, Ragala and Walapane.
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