2 December, 2019
Since it is the holiday season, how about a Ramayana tour? And you may not believe it, but this will be abroad! Yes, incredibly, the country offering and marketing its tourism with a Ramayana train tour is none other than Sri Lanka, and not India. It is well known that Lanka is an important part of Ramayana, and we are all fascinated by how Ravana kidnapped Sita, kept her in Ashoka Vana, how Hanuman lit up Lanka, and how Rama built the bridge to take his army across and bring back Sita. Wouldn’t it be incredible if you could traverse this path and see it all and kind of relive this epic that we have so often quoted?
There are various operators offering packages differing from 4 nights to 9 nights, depending on your choice and budget. But more or less, they cover the entire Ramayana trail and take you to places mentioned in the story. Some of the places covered are Srigriya, Ritigala, and Manigala, Seetha Kotuwa, Nuwara Eliya, Tissamaharama, Unawatuna, Colombo, and Negombo. If you opt for a longer tour, you may also get to see a few other places as well.
This trail covers the path of Ravana’s descent on the Pushpakavimana with Sita, her confinement in Mandodari’s palace and later shift to Ashoka Vana, the Hanuman’s journey in search of her, the parts of Lanka that got torched by Hanuman, his bringing the Dronagiri Parvata and pieces of it that fell off, the battlefield, and the temple where Vibheeshana was crowned king of Lanka by Lakshmana, post the victory. Even the return path of Rama after the triumph, wherein he stopped to pray to clear the Brahmana dosha, for having killed Ravana, is covered.
Said to be one of Ravana’s castles, this place has a lot of frescoes of his wives; Srigriya has some relics of those ancient periods. During the war, Lakshmana fell unconscious, and Hanuman was requested to bring the Sanjeevani to revive him. Unable to understand which was the Sanjeevani herb, Hanuman decided to carry the whole Dronagiri Parvata from the Himalayan range back to Lanka. It is believed that a few of this mountain fell off, and one of the five places mentioned as such is Ritigala. This is a nature lover’s delight and has lots of rare herbs around here. Sites like Piatawala Pathana, which Ravana used as his runway to land, and Manigala, from where the entrance to Ravana’s palace is supposed to be are also nearby.
From Kandy, you can see places like Gurulupotha, where Ravana used to repair his aircraft, known as Dandumonara. The Seetha Kotuwa, which used to be the beautiful palace of Ravana’s wife Mandodari, and where Sita was kept in confinement initially, can also be visited. Weregantota, the place where Ravana landed in Lanka with Sita, can also be seen.
Here, you can trace a path which Ravana and Sita walked on the way to Ashoka Vana, and it is believed that no grass grows till today, here because of that. There is a pond here, which is called Sita’s tears and is said to have formed due to her tears. In Ramboda nearby, there is a Hanuman temple, as this was the area where he was searching for Sita.
A Seetha Amman temple, where Sita is said to have taken baths during her stay at Ashoka Vana, and then the Ashoka Vana itself can be seen. This is currently known as Seetha Eliya, and you can also see Hakgala Rock Jungle. Another spot to visit around here happens to be the World’s end, at the edge of the Horton Plains. This is where Ravana hid Rama and Lakshmana, and Hanuman rescued them by carrying them on his shoulders.
Over here, you can see the Ravana caves, as well as Ravana Falls. Ravana is believed to have built the tunnels as a brilliant secret escape route and connected almost all important parts of the city. He hid Sita behind these falls, and the next site happens to be Yudhaganawa temple. This is the place where major battles took place, and hence, the place is said to be barren, even today.
In this place, you can see the barren and scorched soil at Ussangoda, which is the destruction caused by the burning tail of Hanuman. The Dondra Vishnu temple from where Sugreeva started his battle can be seen as well.
Here, you get to see one of the other five places where Hanuman dropped the pieces of the mountain, known as Rummasala. The other place of interest happens to be the peace Pagoda, not linked to Ramayana.
At the place where Vibheeshana was crowned, there is a Buddhist shrine, in which you find many Vibheeshana murals. Also, this is where the return journey of Rama started, and on the way back, he stopped at a place to pray for forgiveness to exonerate him from the Brahmana Dosha. Now called as Munneshwaram, there are four Lingas installed here, and said to be the only place other than Rameshwaram, where Rama installed the Linga.
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