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Sri Lanka and the Legend of the Ramayana

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.

Sri Lanka and the Legend of the Ramayana

My guides

Sri Lanka and the Legend of the Ramayana

All the way up

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.

Sri Lanka and the Legend of the Ramayana

Sita Jharna and the footprints of Hanuman

Sri Lanka and the Legend of the Ramayana

Idol inside the temple

Sri Lanka and the Legend of the Ramayana

(L-R) Lakshman, Rama and Sita with Hanuman (kneeling)

Sri Lanka and the Legend of the Ramayana

Characters from the Ramayana

Sri Lanka and the Legend of the Ramayana

Love the colors!

For more posts about Sri Lanka, visit the Sri Lanka Travel Blog.

Additional Reading

Sri Lanka Travel Tips: Things to Know For First-time Travelers

Ayurveda Retreat in Sri Lanka: Barberyn Beach Review

Diyabubula: Stay at this Glass-Roofed Villa in Sri Lanka

9 Things to do in South Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka Safari: Into the wild at Yala National Park

Train to Ella Sri Lanka

Hiking to World’s End Sri Lanka

What to do in Nuwara Eliya in the Hill Country

Wandering the Streets of Galle

A Guide to Festivals in Sri Lanka

Get your Sri Lanka visa online.

Alok Singhal

Thursday 10th of December 2015

Bring an Indian proud of his roots, I am delighted to have read this post and see pictures too.


Monday 25th of August 2014

Wow.. I any ways love Hindu mythology and you have give me more reason to visit Sri Lanka :) thanks for the indept write up

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