An important legend in Hindu mythology is that of the Ramayana– the battle between India’s righteous Lord Rama and Sri Lanka’s invincible Demon Warrior King Ravana. The story goes that Lord Rama, born Prince of the Indian kingdom of Ayodhya sacrificed his right to the throne and worldly pleasures on the orders of his stepmother and moved to a forest to live a simple life with his wife Sita and devoted brother Lakshman. One day when the two brothers were out in the forest, looking for food, the Demon King Ravana, blessed to be immortal, abducted Sita and took her to Sri Lanka. Here she was confined to the gardens of Ashoka Vatika. The legend is well and alive in Sri Lanka, home to historical sites mentioned in the Ramayana. I visited two of these in Ella and Nuwara Eliya in the Hill Country.
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The Ravana Ella Cave is located on a cliff close to Ella, 4490ft above sea level and can be visited on a day trip from the villages of Ella or Bandarawela. This cave is part of a tunnel or network of caves said to be connected to the Ravana Ella Waterfall which is more popular with tourists. It is said that Ravana lived here for some years. He abducted Princess Sita, and kept her trapped here before confining her to Ashoka Vatika. Climbing up to the mouth of the cave is quite a physical challenge and you can read about my experience here.
The Ashoka Vatika, a few kms. from Nuwara Eliya is believed to be the place where Sita was confined for many years before she was rescued by Rama and his army. Today, there is a temple dedicated to her on the site. I saw no tourists or any other people here, except for a priest. The temple and idols of Rama, Sita and Lakshman are thousands of years old but the temple has been recently renovated. The area is surrounded by mountains. It is believed that Sita used to bathe in a stream known as Sita Jharna, behind the temple. The rocks by the stream bear what seem like giant footprints, it is believed that these are of the mighty Hanuman, the chief of Rama’s army of brave warrior monkeys when he appeared in a giant form before Sita to assure her that their army was strong enough to rescue her from the invincible Ravana.
For more posts about Sri Lanka, visit the Sri Lanka Travel Blog.