Sri Lanka Ramayana Tour
Seetha Amman temple is one of the most important sites in Ramayana and includes every Sri Lanka Ramayana tour. Sri Lanka Ramayana tour essentially includes many places mentioned in the Ramayana epic story. Seetha Amman temple, Ashok Vatika, shankari devi shakthi peetha and 3 places that included in every Sri Lanka road trip planned to cover Ramayan sites. Ramayana is an ancient Indian epic story that describes a war that erupted between Rama and Ravana, the ten-headed demon king, due to the abduction of Seetha by Ravana. Written by Valmiki, the exact date of the incident is not clear to the historians until today. As the story describes, Ravana had ruled the country of Lanka while Rama had been a prince from Kosala kingdom India.
According to Ramayana King Ravana abducted the wife of Rama (Seetha) and kept in secret places in Sri Lanka. Most of the time Seetha was hidden in the hill country of Sri Lanka, where there are jungles, caves, mountains and beautiful surrounding. The name of Lanka is mentioned many times in the Ramayana, and Sri Lanka has played a noteworthy role in the Ramayan story.
The ‘Ramayana’ elaborate the adventures of Rama when his noble wife was abducted by the demon Ravana and held captive in the Asoka Vanam of his mountain capital in Lanka. Rama called on the monkey king Sugriva, the monkey general Hanuman and Jambana the bear king for help. These three belong to the Golden Age of Hindu mythology when deities walked upon the earth and all creatures – human and animal – shared the same speech.
However keeping Queen Seethe in captivity, created a lot of problems for the King Ravana, so that he had to hide her in several places. According to legend, she had first been hiding close to Welimada at the Paranagama Sthripura Gal lena (Cave). She had stayed amidst tight security and this made her sick. This made King Rawana who wanted to find a solution to her sickness.
There are about 50 important places within the border of Sri Lanka related to Ramayana story and some of them are included in most Sri Lanka Ramayana tour packages. These 50 places are mentioned in the Ramayana story from the abduction of Seetha to the demise of King Ravana. Duration of most of the Sri Lanka Ramayana tour is one or two week, it might not be possible to visit all these places within a week and therefore most Sri Lanka Ramayan tour packages include only several important Ramayana sites in the program. Seetha Amman temple, Asok Vatika, divurumpola temple, Koneswarama, are some of the places included in most Sri Lanka Ramayana tour packages.
Importance of Nuwara Eliya for the Sri Lanka Ramayana tour
Nuwara Eliya also was known as little England for its cool climes, British architecture and natural beauty is also promoted as a sacred city because of its link to the “Rama Seetha” love story. Seetha Amman kovil is dedicated to Seetha, and it is part of every Sri Lanka Ramayana tour package. There are many temples dedicated to Rama and Hanuman, especially in North India, but the Seetha Amman Kovil in Sri Lanka is unique in that it is the only one in the world dedicated to Seetha alone. As per the Ramayana epic story, the demon king ravana, who was the king of Lankadepa abducted Seetha and held her in his capital Badulla.
Seetha Amman temple
The place where she stayed in India was similar to Nuwara Eliya with a cool climate and beautiful surroundings. Therefore he took her to Nuwara Eliya where she was permitted to go about freely. The place she stayed came to be known as Seetha Eliya. A beautiful Hindu temple was built at a later period where Queen Seetha was held. Earlier the temple was known as “Seetha” kovil and it is called “Seedai Amman” at present. The Hindus make vows at the temple since they believe that there is a miraculous power in it.
Adjoining the Seetha kovil is a stream known as the “Seetha Ela” according to legend when Queen Seetha came to reside at Seetha Eliya there had been no stream and all her needs of water had been supplied by the king. Once when she got angry with the King she refused to drink the water supplied by the king by saying “it is better to die than stay in captivity of an enemy” dashing her head on the rock. By dashing the head against the rock, she was not hurt instead because of the opening emerged on the rock gushing the water. Today the point is called Seetha Ela. It is believed that Seetha Devi had taken the oath and undertook ‘Agni Pariksha’ at the same place where the Sita Amman temple is situated.
According to legend queen, Seetha had very long hair and she had found it very difficult to dry it after a bath. Therefore once she had a bath, she used to spread it across a big rock which is today known as Kondagala.
Asok Vatika or better known as Haggala botanical garden is the place, where Seetha Devi was hidden by Ravana once he abducted Seetha. Sita had refused to stay at the palace of Ravana and it was another reason for Ravana to keep Sita in Asok vatika. Ravan’s wife, mandodari had met Seetha at Ashok vatika. According to Ramayana, Hanuman was searching for Seetha all over the island and it was at Ashoka Vatika he first spotted Seetha.
Seetha Devi was staying at Asok vatika till the end of the war between rama and ravana, that caused the end of ravana. According to the Ramayana huge destruction had been dome to the Ashok vatika by monkey god Hanuman, as he was searching for Seetha in the island.
Adam’s Bridge, which is located between is Rameshwaram, South India and island of Mannar, North Sri Lanka is a stretch of limestone shoals, believed to be originated in the ice age. Adams Bridge used to be a land connection between two countries and connected northern Sri Lanka and southern India. There are many theories regarding the origin of the Adams Bridge, and one theory is that Sri Lanka had been a part of India before it broke away from the Indian mainland about 1,25,000 years ago.
According to the Hinduism, this mysterious bridge was legendary king of Rama in Ramayana, and according to the Hindu theory, the Adams Bridge believed to be originated about 1,700,000 years ago. They have filled the narrow gap (ocean) between Sri Lanka and India with stones and earth in order to reach the island. However, geologists are of the opinion that Adam’s bridge or better known as Palk Strait is in existence for more than 2 million years. In fact, it was in use during the reign of King Gajaba (113-135 AD). The king had used the bridge to invade Indian and release Sri Lankan war prisoners. Today it can be clearly visible from the sky but a large portion of Adam’s bridge is washed off due to the erosion.
The Adams Bridge is 30 km long and it shows vivid depth from the beginning to the end, it flu fluctuate between 3 feet to 30 feet. Therefore it is not navigable for the large vessels in this stretch. At present, the ships that are bound for East coast of India need to travel around Sri Lanka before reaching the destinations such as Tuticorin, Chennai, Vizag and Paradip.
Sethusamudram Shipping Canal Project is believed to be the solution to curtail the shipping route from east India to the west coast in the country. After the feasibility studies of the project in the 1990s, however, the project was not finalized till 2005. Upon successful completion of the project, the journey will be reduced by about 350 nautical miles and it will reduce the sailing time from 10 to 30 hours. Same time another 13 minor ports are also developed parallel to the main project, while fishing harbours and other infrastructure developed in both India and Sri Lanka.
Rumassala is another popular natural attraction in southern Sri Lanka, which has a close association with Ramayana. It is located adjoining the Galle harbour and it is a significant patch of forests with rugged terrain and high-biodiversity. Trees and plants of Rumassala believed to be very similar to vegetation in Himalaya. According to the legend, Rumassala is a piece of land originated in Himalaya. Hanuman, the monkey god was left to Indian to bring a herbal plant to treat Laxmana, brother of Rama, who was wounded in the battle, Hanuman forgot the name of the herb and he brought a portion of Himalaya with him. As he flew over Galle, a piece of the portion of the forest that he fetched from Himalaya fell down, this piece of forest today known as Rumassala.
The nature reserve Ritigala is also believed to be originated as Rumassala, from a piece of Himalaya forest. Ritigala is most popular as a dry zone forest with many varieties of herbs. Ritigala forest is home to all major forest types of the island such as dry zone forest, rainforest, mountain and semi mountain forests. Since the Ritigala accommodates all major forest types in the island it is one forest forests with very high biodiversity. Today Ritigala forest reserve is visited by large nu a ber of people mainly due to its historical value. There had been a Buddhist hermitage in the forest and It was inhabited by a large number of Buddhist monks. Even today the reminiscent of the Buddhist hermitage can be seen as ruins of a Buddhist temple. A large number of ruins can be seen within the forest and they are scattered in several places in the forest. Ritigala is a forest with a large number of caves, therefore, historians believe that Ritigala had best conditions to be Buddhist hermitage.
Adding Ravana cave of Karadagolla to Si Lanka Ramayana tour
“This cave covers a huge area and can accommodate a large number of people, on one side of the cave is an open place while on the opposite side of it is a pond. A large number of artefacts and many Buddha statues can be seen in one corner of this mysterious cave. The environment of the cave is very calm and quiet. It an has an unbelievable moderate temperature, which is totally different from the usual oppressive, hot weather conditions of the dry zone.”
Underground tunnel network mentioned in Ramayana and attributed to Ravana
This is a description of the Ravana Cave of Karadagolla as it was seen in the past but this cave is not seen by most Hindu devotees who undertake the Sri Lanka Ramayana tour. The main reason is this cave is not included in most Sri Lanka Ramayana tour packages.
This cave is located in Karadagolla, on the Ella-Wellawaya main road. After travelling about five kilometres on the Ella-Wellawaya main road is the footpath, through the thick vegetation, which leads you to the cave. End of the footpath is an adventurous mountain climb and then one needs to use a rope to go down to the cave. The cave is located in an uninhabited area, which is dominated by thick jungle. According to the historical information, there had been a stone bed in the cave. It is a spacious cave and it expands about 2 km along the north-south axis.
People of Karadagolla believe it to be yet another underground cave attributed to the King Ravana. King Ravana believed to be ruling the island during the epoch of Ramayana (about 7000 years back). The King had built a sophisticated underground tunnel network crisscrossing the whole island, enabling easy and secure access to important places in the country, in case of an emergency. But this tunnel network is not included any Sri Lanka Ramayana tour package due to the risk factors.
Exploring the Karandagolla cave
One needs to go down about 400 meters using a rope in order to reach the cave. Several people in the area have managed to enter the cave so far. But, since it can be dangerous, no one has tried to go to the deep end of the cave. People of the area believe this cave to be one of the great achievements of the ancient Sinhalese engineers. Villages opine that it is a valuable archaeological wealth of the country.
According to the people of the area, the cave is still in very good condition, while it is protected by unseen forces. In some occasions, the visitors of the cave have seen the guards protecting the cave entrance. A figure of Naga king (snake king) on top of the entrance believes to be protecting the cave from the external malicious forces. One who enters the cave should worship the Naga king and obtain the permission before entering the cave. Doing some harm to the cave arouses the anger of the snake, causing some ill-effect for the entrants. There are many interesting stories exists among the people of the area, based on the personal experiences while visiting this cave.
Ravana cave of Karadagolla is known to the people of the area since 1989. Recently another cave believes to be originated during the reign of King Ravana was discovered at a construction site in Ella. Several ancient literary works are also justifying the existence of secret underground tunnel network of King Ravana. But no systematic studies or researches were carried out in this regards so far.
If you would like to visit Seetha Amman kovil and other important historical sites related to Ramayana we recommend you Sri Lanka Ramayana tour.