Mihintale is a sacred mountain peak in Sri Lanka, considered the birthplace of Buddhism in the country. It is situated in the Anuradhapura district, approximately 12 km east of the city of Anuradhapura. Mihintale is an important pilgrimage site for Buddhists, attracting tourists and devotees annually.
The history of Mihintale dates back to the 3rd century BC when King Devanampiya Tissa of Sri Lanka was hunting in the mountains’ forests. During this time, he encountered the Buddhist monk Mahinda, the son of Emperor Ashoka of India. Mahinda, who had come to Sri Lanka to spread the teachings of Buddhism, had a profound impact on King Tissa and the people of Sri Lanka.
The king and his subjects converted to Buddhism, making it the state religion of Sri Lanka. This event is considered the birth of Buddhism in Sri Lanka and is celebrated annually on the day of Poson Poya, which falls in June.
Mihintale is known for its numerous religious and archaeological sites. The most prominent among them is the Mihintale Stupa, believed to enshrine the relics of Mahinda. The stupa, approximately 40 meters high, is surrounded by four smaller stupas at the cardinal points.
Another important site is the Ambasthala Dagoba, believed to be where Mahinda met King Tissa. The Kantaka Chetiya, a miniature stupa located on a hill, is also a popular site for pilgrims. Finally, Kaludiya Pokuna is a set of old bathing tanks in a secluded area of Mihintale. The tanks are surrounded by beautiful trees and vegetation, making it a peaceful place to visit.
Besides the religious sites, Mihintale is also known for its natural beauty. The mountain is covered with lush forests and is home to various flora and fauna. The climb to the top of the hill is popular among tourists and pilgrims and offers breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside.
Visitors to Mihintale are advised to dress conservatively and remove footwear when entering religious sites. The best time to visit is during the cooler months of December to February. This site can be seen throughout the year.
Mihintale is an important pilgrimage site for Buddhists and a popular tourist destination in Sri Lanka. Its historical significance, religious sites, and natural beauty make it a must-visit destination for anyone visiting Sri Lanka.