Mihintale is a mountain peak near Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka. It is a place that holds much significance to Buddhists especially during the month of Poson (June) as Buddhism is said to have been brought to Sri Lanka on a Poson Poya day and Mihintale was where it all began. It is on this rock that the historic meeting between King Devanampiyatissa and Arahath Mahinda, the son of Emperor Asoka of India, is said to have taken place in 247 BC. This meeting led to the King converting to Buddhism and the establishment and growth of Buddhism in Sri Lanka.
Leading to the top of the rock are 1840 granite steps. Among the many attractions for the visitor at Mihintale are the monks’ refectory (dining room) and relic house which on the second landing on the stairs. Here you will find two stone slabs which are known as the Mihintale tables, which are inscribed with rules laid down for the monks and the servants of the monastery. The assembly hall for the monks is located close by on the same level.
Among the many dagobas at Mihintale, one of the largest is Mahaseya Dagoba, which is thought to house the sacred relics of Arahath Mahinda.
On the slope is the cave known as Mihindu Guhawa (Mahinda’s Cave) where Arahath Mahinda is said to have lived until he died in 200 BC. The Aradhana Gala or meditation rock is another site.
At the foot of the mountain are the ruins of an ancient hospital and other buildings. The hospital is believed to have consisted of many rooms. There is a beheth oruwa (medicine boat), the interior of which is carved in the shape of a human form, to facilitate a human to lie inside while being immersed in healing oils.
The nearby museum now houses the clay urns and grinding stones used to store and prepare medicines, which had been unearthed. The museum also displays a replica of the interior of an eighth century dagoba, a ninth century gold-plated ola leaf manuscript, pottery fragments from China and Persia, bronze figurines and fragments of frescoes.
Among the many ponds in Mihintale are the Sinha Pokuna (lion pond), Naga Pokuna (cobra pond) and Kaludiya Pokuna (dark water pond).
Things to do in Mihintale
- Visit the Mihintale temple
- Visit the Aradhana Gala
- Visit the Ambasthale Dagoba
- Visit the Mahaseya Dagoba
- Visit the Sinha Pokuna (lion pond)
- Visit the Naga Pokuna (cobra pond)
- Visit the Kaludiya Pokuna (dark water pond)