If the beauty of Sri Lanka can be captured in a visual form in all its perfection this flower does it – at once peaceful, inviting, and enchanting beyond compare.
Here are a few images of this incredible piece of earth that stole my heart recently.
Rama and Sita walked on this land about a million years ago. This has been an enduring exhilarating thought in my mind for some time, impelling me to visit Sri Lanka. I did that recently to see some of the places where the divine play of Ramayana was enacted, illustrating lessons of love, faith, surrender and fortitude.
I’ll share the experiences of the few Ramayana places I visited in future blogs. Meanwhile, here is a summary of the places pertaining to Ramayana in Sri Lanka.
Rivers, land and the mountains change with time. Goddess Earth dons different beauties and shapes in the passage of time. One million years, while infinitesimal in the cosmos of time, is indeed large in human time-frame. While the historical account of the Ramayana happenings has been recorded in the Valmiki Ramayana, the information that such and such incident took place in such and such place has been passed down by word of mouth through generations of people living in these areas. We call this – legends. They are no less important and authoritative than formal history books.
The depiction in the maps below is based on this source of information. Note that the names of these places convey the meaning of the Ramayana incident that took place there a million years ago!
|1||Weragantota||Weragantota means the “place of aircraft landing” in Sinhala. This is the first place Sita Devi was brought to Lankapura (capita city of king Ravana). Sita Devi was kept at Queen Mandothari’s palace at Lankapura. The place Sita was held captive is called Sita Kotuwa, which means “Sita’s Fort” in Sinhala.|
|2||Gurulupotha||Ravana had an aircraft repair center in Gurulupotha. In Valmiki’s depiction, King Ravana’s vimana resembled a huge peacock. The vimana in Sinhala language means “Dhandu Monara” which is known as “flying peacock,” and hence the name Gurulupotha, which means “parts of birds” in Sinhala. This is also called Gavagala|
|3||Pussallawa||Hanuman first set foot here. The summit of the mountain next to the mountain range overlooking Frotoft Estate in Pussallawa is the place where Hanuman first set his foot on mainland Lanka. This mountain known as Pawala Malai is visible from this mountain range. These hills stand tall in-between King Ravana’s capital city and Ashoka Vatika.|
|4||Sita Flowers||Sita tear pond, formed by Sita’s tears, never dries up. Sita flowers resemble a human being with a bow. [Both not shown in the map]|
|5||Ussangoda||One area torched by Hanuman’s tail-fire; also probably the place where Hanuman extinguished the fire on his tail|
|6||Mani Kattuthar||Hanuman rested on a hill top here after seeing Sita. [Not shown on the map. Near Ramboda on Labookelle mountains]|
|7||Kondagala Village||Same as 9 below|
|8||Istripura||Means “Place of Women”. Ravan brought Sita here after Hanuman’s visit.|
|9||Konda Kattu Gala||Near Kirivanagama, Lunuwatte. Sita deranged her hair here, hence Kondu Katta Gala|
|10||Kalutara Buddhist Shrine||Ravana’s palace and a tunnel exited here|
|11||11a Welimada; 11 b Banadarawela; 11c Halagala; 11d Ramboda; 11e Wariapola/Matale; 11f Hasalaka.||Locations of some of the tunnels that were interconnected in Ravana’s time. Many more tunnels existed. These were all man-made|
|12||Neelawari||In Jaffna peninsula. Rama shot an arrow into the ground and got water for the thirsty monkey army|
|13||Dondra,Seenigama,Hikkaduwa||Sugrivan prepared to fight Ravana from here|
|14||Wasagamuwa||One of the battle field areas|
|15a||Rumassala/Galle||When Hanuman brought the Sanjeevani parvatam from the Himalayas, some plants and seeds fell on the ground en route. In these five places, even today vegetation is there that is not of the tropical variety but of the Himalayan climate! Since Rumassale is the southermost point in this phenomena, this area must have been the destination of Hanuman, ie, this is the area where Lakshmana had swooned down and must have been the area of the main battle.|
|16||Dunuvila Lake/Laggala||Dunu- bow. Vila-lake. Reportedly, Rama fired Brahmastra from here on Ravana who was fighting from the top of the flat mountain in Laggala.|
|17||Divrumwela / Nugathalawa||Agni pareekshai (Test by Fire) took place here.|
|18||Kelaniya||Vibhishana’s coronation took place here|
|19||Ashoka Vatika/Sita Eliya||Ashoka vanam where Hanuman had darsan of Sita, handed over Rama’s ring and was blessed by her.|
|20||Gayatri Peetam||Indrajit did japam here to Lord Siva|
|21||Naga Deep||Surasai- Hanuman encounter took place here|
|22||Rama Sethu||The bridge build by the love of the monkeys with the Grace of Rama|
|23||Ramboda||Bhakta Hanuman Temple. Hanuman starts his returs from here|
|24||Triconmalee area||Hanuman extinguishes his tail-fire here. Rama rests His Bow here at Vilundri (Vil-Bow, Undri-rest) enroute Tiru Koneeswaram|
|25||Muneeswaram||Rama prayed to Siva here, post-war|
|26||Amarnthakali/Batticaloa||Rama, Lakshmana, Sita had their first meal here after the war|
Ravana brought Sita first to Mandodari’s palace in the Weragantota area. Subsequently he moved her to the Ashoka Vanam. After Hanuman’s visit, Sita was moved to the Istripura area and probably was hidden in the tunnels there. The place where Sita deranged her hair is in Kondagala village [meaning “deranging of hair”]
Lankapuri and surrounding area had a well developed tunnel net work. These tunnels are available even today and are seen to be man-made. Most are not readily accessible and some can be accessed only with great difficulty.
Dhandu Monara means Big Peacock in Sinhala. Valmiki Ramayana mentions that Ravana’s air craft resembled a peacock. He had several airports and aircraft repair/maintenance centers as the names of the places indicate. Some of these are:
- Weragantota – means Place of aircraft landing.
- Ussangoda – means Area of lift
- Wariapola – means Aircraft Port.
- Thotupolakanda – means Mountain port.
- Gurulupotha – means Parts of birds – this possibly refers to aircraft repair/maintenance area
Hanuman encountered Surasai at the place called Naga Deep today. He landed at Pussallawa, met Vibhishanan at his palace and had darsan and sambhashan with Sita Devi at Ashoka Vanam. He burnt the whole of Lankapuri with the fire set on his tail. This place is called Nuwara Eliya today which means City of Light. Ashoka Vanam is called Ashoka Vatika today and is in a place called Sita Eliya [the Light of Sita, ie where Sita Graced Hanuman]. After seeing Sita, Hanuman rested on a hill top called Mani Kattuthar which is in the Labookelle hill range nearby Sita Eliya. One of the places torched by Hanuman in the southern part is Ussangoda. Hanuman left from Ramboda [where a beautiful Bhakta Hanuman Temple has been built today], jumped to Kurungela area to Triconmallee before crossing the ocean on his return journey. He also extinguished the fire on his tail at Triconmalee [although I suspect this happened at Ussangoda]
Rama Sethu was built for Rama, Lakshmana and the monkey army to cross the ocean from Dhanushkodi in India to reach Thalai Mannar in Sri Lanka. A million years ago, the water level was lower than it is today. The bridge floated on water and served as a walking bridge. Today, the water level is higher and the bridge is submerged. Rama also shot an arrow to the ground to draw water and quench the thirst of the monkey army. This place is called Neelawari today.
As Hanuman brought the Sanjeevini hill from the Himalayas, some plants and herbs dropped to the ground on the way. This happened in five places en route where the vegetation even today resembles the Himalayan climate and not the local climate. It is reasonable to estimate that the southernmost point near Galle is where Lakshmana was resuscitated because this is how far the hill was brought. There is a 25 km area here where the vegetation is Himalayan variety. Dunuvilla is where Rama fired the brahmastra. Laggala mountain top is where from Ravana fought with Rama. Dondra, Seenigama and Hikkaduwa are three places in the south where Sugriva prepared the onslaught against Ravana’s army.
After the war was over, Agni pareekshai took place in an area called Divrumwela. Vibhishana was coronated by Lakshmana, on Rama’s orders, in his palace which is on the banks of the Kalani river close to Colombo.
Please see related posts:
January 2 2017. Ramayana in Lanka: Hanuman lands in Lanka
January 4 2017. Ramayana in Lanka: The place where Hanuman met Sita
January 7 2017. Ramayana in Lanka. The Fire Test. Agni Pareekshai.
January 8 2017. Ramayana in Lanka. When Indrajit became almost invincible
January 15 2017. Ramayana in Lanka. Hanuman takes a leap from Lanka
February 17 2017. Ramayana in Lanka: Vibhishana’s coronation.