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Mihintale

Referred by many as the “cradle of Buddhism” in Sri Lanka, Mihintale is located 11 km east of the sacred city of Anuradhapura. It is believed by Sri Lankans to be the site of a meeting between the Buddhist monk Mahinda and King Devanampiyatissa. This was the moment that initiated the presence of Buddhism in Sri Lanka. Each year a great festival, the Poson Poya, is held at Mihintale on the Poson full-moon night (usually in June) to commemorate the conversion of Devanampiya Tissa. Now a pilgrimage site, Mihintale has several religious monuments and abandoned structures.

Attractions

Ambasthale Dagoba
The Dagoba has been built at the spot where Mahinda converted Devanampiya Tissa to Buddhism. The Dagoba is reached through a main ceremonial stairway, lined with frangipani trees. There is a nearby statue of the king wearing traditional dress that marks the spot where the King met Mahinda. The name Ambasthale means ‘Mango Tree’ and refers to a riddle that Mahinda used to test the king’s intelligence.

Sinha Pokuna
Also known as Singha Pokuna or Lion Pond and spout, this is one pond in the ancient Buddhist monastery complex of Mihintale. The pond has been given its name since there is a statue of lion standing with two legs. The lion figure is visible on the outer wall of the lower terrace of the pond. There are some fine friezes around this pool.

Mihintale Ruins
The ruins of Mihintale are closely associated with the introduction of Buddhism to Sri Lanka. There are two huge Dagobas that can be reached through a ceremonial staircase climbs past pools, with monastery ruins and rock inscriptions. The climb takes around 25 minutes and one can cut the walk in half by driving up the side Old Rd and starting near the Monk’s Refectory.

Aradhana Gala
Located at the top of the Mihintale Mountain, this is said to be the rock where Mahinda Thero stood with his disciples and spoke to the King. Others believe that Sumana Samanera (novice monk) got on to the top of this rock and invited the deities and gods of the heavens above to listen to the sermon of the Mahinda Maha Thero.

Kantaka Chetiya
Built by King Devanampiyatissa in 250-210 B.C, Kantak Chetiya is an interesting visit in Mihintale. The circumference of this stupa is about 145 m and 13 m in height though it is damaged to a certain extent. Four stone flower altars stand at the cardinal points and surrounding these are sculptures of dwarfs, geese and other figures.

Mahaseya Dagoba
This is the largest Dagoba in Mhintale, and is thought to have been built to house relics of Mahinda. On the far side of the Dagoba, one can find the original, smaller brick Dagoba, which is one of the oldest in Sri Lanka. One can enjoy the view over the lakes and trees to Anuradhapura from here.

Naga Pokuna
Climbing halfway down from the Ambasthale Dagoba, there is a path leading to the left around the base of the hill topped by the Mahaseya Dagoba. This is where the Naga Pokuna (Snake Pool) is located. The pool is named so because of a five-headed cobra carved in low relief on the rock face of the pool.

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