Pilgrims climbing the Mihintale, mountain peak near Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka.
Mihintale, the Mountain Peak with a Religious Value, that Stands Near Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka

The splendid island of Sri Lanka is blessed with a number of religious and cultural attractions, owing to the rich heritage that it owns. Among them, Mihintale is one of the significant attractions, as a cultural attraction, as well as a hiking spot. Thus, Mihintale happens to be a place that many tourists visit if they visit the ancient city of Anuradhapura. Hence, we thought of enlightening you about this wonderful place, through this read. Continue reading, and you will surely visit Mihintale, the next time you visit Sri Lanka!

History Related to Mihintale

Mihintale or Missaka pawwa is a small town. Still, whenever someone hears this name, it is the Mihintale rock that comes into their mind for sure. In fact, it is this rock that gives this town its significance. Thus, we cannot explore the history of Mihintale, without getting to know about this wonderful rock. So, let us get to know about the history of this most visited town, by getting to know about the Mihintale rock.

Mihintale Rock

The Mihintale rock also called Aradhana gala is a significant place with an appreciable historic value to Sri Lankans, especially for Buddhists. It is the place where Arhat Mahinda Thero met King Devanampiya Tissa, the ruler of Sri Lanka for the very first time. This historical incident which changed Sri Lanka in every aspect took place in 306 – 307 B.C.

Arhat Mahinda Thero was the son of Emperor Dharmashoka of India. The emperor and King Devanampiyatissa were best friends. Thus, as the greatest gift, the emperor sent his son Arhat Mahinda Thero with the message of Lord Buddha, to implement Buddhism in Sri Lanka. However, Arhat Mahinda Thero arrived in Sri Lanka with a faction of the following six people along with him on a Poson Fullmoon Poya day.

  • Iththiya Thero
  • Uththiya Thero
  • Sambala Thero
  • Bhaddasala Thero
  • Sumana Samanera
  • Bhanduka Upasaka

When Arhat Mahinda Thero landed at the top of Aradhana Gala in Mihintale, King Devanampiyatissa was busy chasing a deer. Later, Thero preached “Chullahaththi Padopama Sutta” to the King and then he embraced Buddhism at Mihintale. Until then Sri Lankans used to worship rocks, trees, sun, moon, and natural elements as such.

The King built monasteries for Arhat Mahinda Thero and the monks arrived along with him to stay and preach dhamma. When the King patronized Buddhism, naturally the subjects of him embraced Buddhism after listening to the Dhamma Suttas preached by Arhat Mahinda Thero. Thus, the establishment of Bhikku and Bhikkuni Sasana in Sri Lanka happened afterward with the help of Arahat Sanghamitta Theri.

Since all the four parties, Bhikku, Bhikkuni, Upasaka, and Upasika had established, along with the powerful patronizing, Buddhism had a great start as a religion on the Island. Since then Buddhism has woven around society and its people in an inseparable way.

Location of Mihintale

Mihintale is located in the North Central province of Sri Lanka in the Anuradhapura district. It is near the sacred historical city of Anuradhapura. Besides, Anuradhapura was the very first capital of ancient Sri Lanka. Thus, it stood as the main hub of Buddhist heritage, culture, and religion on this charming island. The distance between Anuradhapura city and Mihintale town is 10.17 km. There is a walking distance from Mihintale town to the Mihintale rock. The rock is nearly 311 meters (1019 feet) above sea level. Thus, Mihintale is of enormous religious and historical importance as a town in the cultural triangle.

Mihintale is in the dry zone of the Island and contains several mountains. Out of them, the following are the leading.

  1. Mihntalawa
  2. Ath Wehera
  3. Annaikutti
  4. Rajagiri Lena

The temperature of Mihintale ranges from warm to hot. In addition, it is an agricultural area that has inland water bodies such as the Mihintale tank and Maha Kanadara Tank that are useful for cultivation purposes. The monsoon rainfalls occur here and the wind is common too. Besides, there is a forest reserve located near Mihintale town which consists of a better diversity of flora and fauna.

Further, Mihintale city consists of many historical and religious monuments. Moreover, the ruins and the remaining historical constructions have made this town an archaeological significance. Thus, it has become one of the cities with higher tourist attractions that supports the tourism industry in Sri Lanka. However, the town bears a great ethnic diversity. The people who belong to different religions, ethnic groups who speak various languages live harmoniously here for more than centuries. 

How to Get to Mihintale

There are different modes of travel to Mihintale. It can be by bus, by train or even by taxi according to the travelers’ preference.

Traveling to Mihintale by Train

There are express trains, intercity trains, and special trains to reach Mihintale. If using a train, the visitors have to get off at the Anuradhapura railway station or Anuradhapura New Town train station. Then they can take a taxi or bus to reach Mihintale town. An intercity train from Colombo Fort railway station usually takes 3 to 4 hours to reach Anuradhapura city. Then you will have to spend another 30 to 40 minutes to reach Mihintale town, if by bus and if by taxi, it may take 20 to 30 minutes. If you take the train from Colombo Fort, there are many intercity trains starting from there and going all the way to Jaffna. Yaal Devi, Uththara Devi, Sri Devi, Rajarata Rajina are a few of them. Usually, the trains go via Kurunegala city.

Traveling to Mihintale by Bus

If a visitor hopes to take the bus from Colombo, it will take 5 to 6 hours traveling time and get off at Mihintale town directly. There are basically two bus routes to reach Mihintale. One is via Kurunegala and the other is via Negombo, Chilaw and Puttalam. In both trains and buses, seat reservation is available with either air-conditioned or non-air-conditioned options.

Traveling to Mihintale by Taxi

If a visitor hopes to take a taxi to visit Mihintale, the route can be changed as per the passengers’ wish. Similarly, the speed whereas the time taken to complete the journey mainly depend on the travelers. Also, the cost for a taxi ride to Mihintale would depend on the service provider you choose. So, it is up to you to contact a few service providers, in order to choose the most convenient and cost-effective taxi service to travel to Mihintale.

Poson at Mihintale

Sri Lanka, as a country with Theravada Buddhism, celebrates the Poson festival with the government’s patronage all over the country. Similarly, people who live around the Mihintale area celebrate the Poson Poya day with much festivity because it stands as the center of this festival. In addition, it has a great religious and historical value which pilgrims from all over the country come to visit Mihintale during the Poson season.

Anyone who visits Mihintale during the Poson festival has the chance to witness large lanterns with beautiful colors and shapes and pandals. These pandals exhibit the important incidents related to Mahindagamanaya (The arrival of Arahat Mahinda Thero). Moreover, all the temples, aranyas, and other religious institutes organize a number of religious activities including preaching dhamma, meditating sessions, observing Sil, and almsgiving. In addition, “Poson Bathi Gee” (songs devoted to the Poson festival) takes a prominent place during this festival season.

On this festival day, Mihintale town becomes totally crowded with pilgrims and can barely see the temple premises due to the higher pilgrim density. In addition to the religious rituals, the Poson festival brings Poson fairs, which sell fancy items near the Mihintale town. Pilgrims and the villagers go and buy whatever they like from them. Furthermore, Poson dansal are other significant events that enhance the good quality of the almsgiving habit. Dansals provide different types of food to pilgrims free of charge. The types of dansals vary according to the type of food and things they give out. They range from bread, manioc, milk rice, ice cream, rice and curry, green porridge to some kinds of medicinal drinks. 

Places to Visit at Mihintale

Being a great part of Sri Lanka’s fascinating history, there are many places to visit in Mihintale which can be either of religious value or historical value or both. Almost all of them are related to Buddhism and the monks. These places and institutes are dedicated and built by the ancient kings and rulers of Sri Lanka. Once pilgrims come to Mihintale, they have the chance to walk from one place to another, because these places are located close to each other. However, whether you come in small groups or large groups it is better to visit all these places on foot while enjoying nature.

Furthermore, you can find below some of the interesting places in Mihintale which reveal to you the glory of Sri Lanka’s history

  1. Aradhana Gala
  2. The Ancient Hospital
  3. Kantaka Chetiya
  4. The Refectory
  5. The Cave of Arahat Mahinda (Mihindu Guhawa)
  6. Ambastala Dagaba (Mihintale Maha Seya) and the Vatadage
  7. Assembly Hall of Mihintale
  8. Ata Seta Len (Sixty Eight Caves of Mihintale)
  9. Eth Vehera Stupa in Mihintale Monastery
  10. Giribhanda Seya Stupa
  11. Idikatu Seya Monastery Complex
  12. Kaludiya Pokuna (Black-water Pond)
  13. Kantaka Chethiya
  14. Katu Seya Stupa
  15. Mihindu Seya
  16. Naga Pokuna
  17. Sinha Pokuna (Lion Pond) of Mihintale
  18. Pothgula Ruins near Singha Pokuna
  19. Rajagiri Kanda and Rajagiri Cave
  20. Relic House and the Inscription of King Mahinda IV

Knowing what they are, let us now have a glimpse of the historical as well as the archeological importance of each of these sites.

1. Aradhana Gala of Mihintale

The Sinhala meaning of Aradhana Gala is the “Rock of Invitation”. It stands facing Ruwanweli Maha Seya in Anuradhapura. According to the Mahavamsa, Arahath Mahinda Thero landed on the Aradhana Gala. Buddhists around the world visit Aradhana Gala especially on Poson Poya day to celebrate the birth of Buddhism in Sri Lanka. At present, pilgrims can climb this rock even during the windy weather because there are iron railings on the way up to the top of the rock. When climbing the top, anyone has the chance to enjoy the enchanting beauty of the surroundings. So, this not only remains a significant religious and cultural attraction but also a hiking spot for small hikes.

2. The Ancient Hospital

The hospital complex that belongs to the ancient monastery of Mihintale is in between the old Jaffna road and the archaeology museum of Mihintale. You can find the remains at the entrance of the Mihintale site.

King Sena the Second built this hospital complex according to the inscription that belonged to the tenth century found at the site. A Chinese Mahayana Buddhist monk named Fahien discovered that more than 2000 Buddhist monks lived in Mihintale in the fifth century. The ancient king of Anuradhapura Kingdom built this hospital complex in order to provide basic health facilities to the monks. However, the medicine bathtubs used in this hospital have become ruins at present. Furthermore, the hospital contained four rooms to consult the patients, prepare patients, store medicine, and give hot baths to the patients. 

In addition, the excavations found blue color jars and clay wares that prove the trade connections between Iran and Sri Lanka at that time. However, the amazing fact about the ruins of the hospital located in Mihintale is that the archeologists believe it is the oldest hospital that ever existed in the world. 

3. Kantaka Chetiya

Only the ruins of this ancient attraction are available at present. The archaeological facts reveal that its height was nearly 40 feet and the circumference of the pagoda was about 425 feet. Besides, this stupa has a frontispiece in Sinhala “Wahalkada” joining the four main directions. However, two of the four of them are in good condition even for today. The southern Wahalkada is in the best condition in relation to the others. These Wahalkada had carvings of dwarfs, animals, humans, divine and mythical creatures, flower patterns, and geese to themselves. The caves close to the pagoda were the places prepared for the monks to stay at the very early times. 

The one who built this stupa is not known but King Lajjatissa (ruled 119 to 109 B.C.) constructed a stone mantelpiece, which can assume that the building of the stupa happened before that period. The paintings on the southern Wahalkada are of huge importance because, in addition to the frescos from Sigiriya, Mihintale is another place where frescos belonging to the earliest period are visible. 

4. The Refectory

The refectory is the place where monks had the meals. It has several names in Sinhala such as Danhala, Bath Ge, etc. The building is rectangular in shape containing a central quadrangle that has no roof. Thus, you can see the sky when looking up from the granite slab floor.

Moreover, there are two big dugouts of different sizes. They are named Bath Oruwa and Kenda Oruwa in Sinhala while Rice boat and Porridge boa in English respectively. These ditches used to have an inlaid metal layer as per archaeologists. In addition, the refectory contained water vats and covered sewers to manage the need for water. An amusing fact is that the tablets found in Mihintale have information about the servants who worked here and about the wages paid to them. These servants are as follows.

  1. Bath Ge Ledi – The warden of the refectory
  2. Sala Jetak – The head of the servants
  3. Pisana Salayin Dolos Janak – Twelve servants for cooking
  4. Dar Nanga Bath Pack Salayak – Servants for procuring firewood and cooking food
  5. Ni Pise Dar Nengu Salayak – Servants for only bringing firewood but not for cooking
  6. Negu Dare Bath Pack Salayak – Servant for only cooking using the firewood fetched by others

5. The Cave of Arahat Mahinda (Mihindu Guhawa)

After the arrival of Arahat Mahinda Thero in Sri Lanka, the Kings started to build monastery complexes with almost all the facilities including hospitals for the bhikkhus to stay. Accordingly, Mihindu Guhawa happens to be the place where Arahath Mihindu Thero meditated after preaching dhamma to King Devanampiya Tissa. It has a great view and is the place with the most scenic beauty in the whole monastery. The seat was a sculpture of a rock. Moreover, the rectangular area in this cave is assumed to be the sleeping area of Arahat Mahinda Thero. In addition, three hundred yards down from the upper terrace and to the eastern side, there is a cave sheltered with a stone slab where the cave of Arahath Mihindu Thero can be seen.

6. Ambastala Dagaba (Mihintale Maha Seya) and the Vatadage

This is on the upper terrace of the Mihintale complex. Once climbing up the 1840 steps the Ambasthala Dagaba comes into sight. According to history, King Mahadhatika Mahanama who ruled the country from 9 to 21 A.C constructed the stupa on the exact location where King Devanampiya Tissa met Arahath Mihindu Thero. It is the largest and the most perceptive pagoda on the way to the top of Mihintale rock. The diameter of the base of the pagoda at present is 136 feet and the height is approximately 40 feet. Pujavaliya and the slab inscriptions of King Mahinda IV referred to the Mihintale Maha Seya as Ambulu Seya. As per chronicles, King Mahadhatika Mahanama enshrined the Urna Roma Dhatu (the spiral on the forehead of Lord Buddha) inside this Ambasthala stupa. 

Later, during the second and third centuries added a Watadageya made with a wooden roof and stone pillars to protect the pagoda from sunlight and rain. Ruwanweli Maha Seya and Jethawanaramaya in Anuradhapura are clearly visible at this place. Mihintale Maha Seya is the symbol of Mihintale as it looks indescribably beautiful at sunset and on full moon nights.

7. Assembly Hall of Mihintale

The assembly hall or the Sannipatha Salawa in Sinhala is an essential component of a Buddhist monastery to make it whole. In fact, the assembly hall was the place where bhikkhus gathered to talk through the commonly interesting matters concerning the administration of discipline. The most senior bhikkhu of the monastery was to chair those meetings. According to the inscription that in the neighborhood of Mihintale Assembly hall, the most senior monk of the monastery was called the “Naka Balana Himi” in Sinhala with the meaning the chief monk of fraternity. The highest stone seat in the middle of the hall was reserved for him because then only everybody in the hall could see and hear him clearly and with respect as well. 

In addition, they have built the assembly hall at the center of the huge monastery complex. Thus, the monks could gather there quickly even at a short notice. Furthermore, monks used this hall to preach dhamma too. However, it is square in shape with 62 feet of length on each side. Archeologists assume that there were about 64 stone pillars to support the symmetrical roof of the hall. At present, anyone who visits this place has the chance to witness the ruins of these stone pillars at the premises. 

8. Ata Seta Len (Sixty Eight Caves of Mihintale)

A few meters away on the old road by the Lion pond or Singha Pokuna, there is a huge rocky overhang on the right. It is where a bunch of 68 caves was built using these rocks for the shelter of monks. In Sinhala “Ata Seta” gives the meaning of sixty-eight. King Devanapiya Tissa constructed the caves under the guidance and advice of Arahath Mihindu Thero 250 years before the birth of Jesus Christ. Early Brahmin inscriptions found on the drip ledges of the caves confirmed that King Devanampiya Tissa prepared these caves for the monks to conduct meditating and learning activities. 

9. Eth Vehera Stupa in Mihintale Monastery

Eth Vehera, meaning the Pagoda of the elephant, is one of the three mountains in the Mihintale mountain range. The path towards the Eth Vehera has the best view of the surrounding area. It is the highest of the three main hills in the Mihintale mountain range. The ruins of the Eth Vehera at the top of the mountain are relatively small. Moreover, the Eth Vehera is about 27 meters in diameter.

However, there is no recorded history regarding the person who built the pagoda or the origin of the pagoda. The name Eth Vehera is a subject of speculation. According to Professor J. B. Dissanayake, this was an essential part of an established monastery. Moreover, the tablets of King Mahinda IV mention that the Eth Vehera and the inscriptions of King Kassapa V differentiate this from the Chetiya monastery. Furthermore, there are steps on the path to the top of this mountain that make it easy to climb. 

10. Giribhanda Seya of Mihintale

The significant fact about the Girinhanda Seya is that even though treasure thieves plundered it, the relic chamber of the pagoda was kept unharmed. However, the relics went missing. Since all the walls of the relic chamber are intact, archaeologists and historians could take a glance at the interior of the pagoda’s relic chamber and have an idea about the way it was built by the ancestors of Sri Lanka.

There are deities painted on the walls of the relic chamber with red back lines and they are in a worshipping position. Some have lotus flowers on their hands. In the middle of the chamber is a cuboid-shaped rock that represents the Mahameru rock. The cuboid-shaped rock is on three small rocks and they represent the Thrikootakaya. The cuboid shape contains 7 layers which represent the following seven peaks that surround the Mahameru rock. 

  1. Yugandhara peak
  2. Eshadhara peak
  3. Karawika peak
  4. Sudarshana peak
  5. Nemindhara peak
  6. Vinthaka peak
  7. Ashwakarna peak

Furthermore, the four other shorter cuboid-shaped rocks represent the following four islands in the major four directions of the Mahameru rock.

  1. Jambudweep – South
  2. Aparagoyana – North
  3. Purwa Videha – West
  4. Uthuru Kuru Divaina – East

11. Idikatu Seya Monastery Complex at Mihintale

This is a sub monastery complex of Mihintale main monastery complex. Only the ruins of the stone parapet that enclosed the monastery complex remain today. Moreover, this monastery complex contains two pagodas. The larger pagoda is the Indikatu Seya with the meaning of the Pagoda of Needles. Besides, the basal terrace of the pagodas here is different from the other pagodas in Mihintale. The circumference of the Indikatu Seya is about 20 feet. However, the constructors built this pagoda on a 6 feet high platform that depicts the Mahayana characteristics during the 8 to 9 centuries.

In addition to the pagoda, other structures found in this complex are the Panchavasa, image house, hot bathhouse, and a pond made of blocks of rocks. As per folklore, the Indikatu Seya enshrines the needles that were used to stitch the robes by Arahat bhikkhus in Mihintale hence it got the name as well. In addition, the archeologists found guard stones of unique beauty and pots solely made of granite at the top of the pillars at either side of the entrances.

12. Kaludiya Pokuna of Mihintale (The Black Water Pond)

It is the largest pond and is situated at the bottom of the western slope of Mihintale. Most of the experts in the field believe that it is the same pond in the tablet inscriptions of King Mahinda V under the name Porodini Pokuna. The meaning of this pond is literally the black water pond. As per its name, the water in the pond is black in color, thus the bottom of the pond is not visible. The architectural structure of the pond depicts the great hydraulic irrigation techniques and knowledge owned by the ancient architects who lived in Sri Lanka. In addition to enhancing the beauty of the area, the pond fulfills the interior water requirements of the monastery such as bathhouses, and toilets within the building.

There had been a monastery centering the Kaludiya Pokuna. However, the ruins of it are even visible today. As per the archeologists, the monastery consisted of the following sections.

  • Pagoda
  • Uposatha Gara or Poya Ge (the place where monks gathered to perform certain disciplinary rituals)
  • Chankamana Patha (esplanade to walk)
  • Pirivena (school for monks)
  • Pasada / Jatha Gara (residential cells)
  • Vachcha Kuti (lavatory)

13. Kantaka Chethiya at Mihintale

In 1930, the renovation of the Kantaka pagoda happened up to the present status. At the discovery of this pagoda, it was only a mound of earth filled with chaff. Before discovering the nearby stone inscription which had the original name of the pagoda, it had several names such as Kiribadapavu Dagaba, Kiribath Vehera, or Giribhanda. Even though there are no sources to find the constructor of this pagoda, historians assume that this has to be built before 119 B.C. The reason is that King Lajjatissa made a stone mantel for the pagoda who ruled the country from 119 B.C. to 109 B.C. However, the pagoda visible today is nearly 425 feet in diameter and 40 feet in height. In addition, anyone can see the ruins of the Vahalkada too at the premises.

14. Katu Seya Stupa at Mihintale

Another sub monastery complex that belongs to Mihintale’s main monastery complex is Katu Seya Stupa. As per the legends, the smithy tools and instruments that were used to build Mihintale were used in the enshrinement of the pagoda. The stone inscriptions of King Mihindu IV helped to identify the name of the pagoda as Katu Seya. The bottom part of the pagoda was made of finely cut slabs of granite and the top part was constructed of bricks. Moreover, the inscription states that the same officers who handled the land authority of Eth Vehera did the land authority of Katu Seya too. 

An excavation done in the premises of the pagoda during the 19th century has discovered a few copper plates with Mahayana sutra verses both in Sinhala and Sanskrit written during the 8th and 9th centuries. According to archaeological excavations, the monastery complex belongs to the period of the Anuradhapura Kingdom and practiced Mahayana traditional architectural features.

15. Mihindu Seya of Mihintale Monastery 

Mihindu Seya is located to the west of the Maha Seya of Mihintale. The successor of King Devanampiya Tissa, King Uttiya built the pagoda by enshrining the relics of Arahath Mihindu Thero. The legendary archaeologist, Dr. Senarath Paranavithana himself found the pagoda and at that time it was a heap of debris, a ruined pagoda. However, he discovered the base of the pagoda after clearing the debris entirely. A casket of relics was there amongst the fragmented bricks in the core of the pagoda. It was a polished earthenware that was black in color. Dr. Paranavithana assumed that it belonged to either India or Sri Lanka. Moreover, the shape of the casket was a cylinder with a 2 7/8 inch diameter and 5 3/8 inch height.

As per Dr. Paranavithana, the ceramics found here are the oldest and the most vital specimens of ceramics arts as yet discovered on the Island. Mihindu Seya exemplified the Sanchi stupa in India. Furthermore, the excavations revealed a relic chamber in the midst of the mound. It was a 6 by 6 feet square at the bottom with 3 feet and 6 inches in height. 

16. Naga Pokuna of Mihintale

The literal meaning of Naga Pokuna is “Cobra Pond”. The name comes from the five-headed cobra carved at the low relief of the surface of the rock. It brags about one of the natural water resources of Mihintale. Naga Pokuna is on a high plateau that is on the side of a hill just below the Maha Seya and Mihindu seya. The pond connects with the refectory and Sinha Pokuna. Naga Pokuna fulfilled the water requirements of the alms hall of the refectory and the Sinha Pokuna.

The scholars found that the Naga Pokuna referred to as Nagasondi in the ancient inscriptions. Moreover, the Mahavamsa stated that Arahath Mihindu Thero bathed in the Naga Pokuna before visiting the Chetiya Pabbatha mountain.

17. Sinha Pokuna (Lion Pond)

It is more of a water rail and less of a pond though it is called the Singha Pokuna. The monks who resided at the neighborhood caves used Singha Pokuna to bathe and fulfill other water requirements. However, it is an open area. The water comes out of the mouth of a standing lion from the tank above. Hence the name Lion Pond arrived. Half of the square of this pond is cut of natural rock and the other half is of monolithic blocks. Moreover, the lion in this pond is one of the finest animal carvings of ancient Ceylon. The water into this pond comes from the Naga Pokuna through an underground tunnel system. Thus, it shows off the advanced hydraulic techniques used by the ancestors of Sri Lanka.

18. Pothgula Ruins near Singha Pokuna of Mihintale

The greatest animal carvings that come from the Anuradhapura period appear on the Singha Pokuna. Similarly, another set of ruins appears at a 50 meters higher terrace from Singha Pokuna ruins, which is commonly known as Pothgula ruins. However, these ruins are not exposed to travelers and stay unknown most of the time.

In the past, the Mihintale temple provided the necessary education for both monks and laymen, hence the Pothgula or the library was at the temple. In addition, the temple was the only place that kept the knowledge written down on the Ola leaves. Explorers can find the huge rock door frame entrance to the main building of the Pothgula. Rarely do people know about this site with historical values.

19. Rajagiri Kanda and Rajagiri Lena

Rajagiri Kanda, with the meaning of Mountain of the King, stands prominently amongst the surrounding plains. The road to reach the mountain is almost directly in front of the entrance of the Black Water pond. The monks of great wisdom and virtue stayed from time to time at the rock caves in the area. In addition, a large number of stone inscriptions are still there on the brows of the caves that belong to the earliest era of Buddhism. 

After climbing a few stone steps up the mountain, the Rajagiri Lena is visible. The Rajagiri Lena contained several compartments including a shrine. Mr. H. C. P. Bell examined these caves. 

20. Relic House and the Inscription of King Mahinda IV

The ruins of the relic house are still visible on higher ground to the right side of the alms hall. The name of this was “Daage” in Sinhala, meaning the relic house. This building is of square shape and the inscriptions of King Mihindu IV are on either side of the entrance of the building. However, these inscriptions belong to the tenth century.

The evidence found leads to the assumption of an upper storey to the relic building, most probably built using wood and decayed with the passage of time. Moreover, the belief is that the ground floor acted as an image house where the upper floor was reserved for the safe depositing of the relics of Lord Buddha. 

There are four small pagodas in the four corners of the relic house. Thus, these pagodas added glamour to the premises. In addition, there are two parts of inscriptions on either side of the relic building. History reveals that King Siri Sangabodhi Abhaya, who ruled the country from 956 to 972 A.D. built them. 

The Bottom Line

All these facts prove to us again and again, the value of this important cultural attraction, Mihintale rock, as well as the ancient places that surround it. Considering their rich cultural heritage, the Archeological Department of Sri Lanka overlooks and preserves these wonderful attractions. However, it is a must note that exploring these interesting places located at the heart of Mihintale would offer you a one-of-a-kind experience that you would cherish for a lifetime. Thus, we would like to invite you to explore the grandeur of this historical heritage, if you ever visit this charming island. Happy and Safe Travelling!