Sri Lanka is blessed with so many varied archaeological sites of historical and cultural importance that the visitor is spoilt for choice. While the expansive ruins of the ancient cities of Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa have a grandeur that is difficult to surpass, there are lesser-known sites that have an ambience all of their own. One such site is the monastic complex on the lower slopes of Ritigala – Kande.
The steep jungle – clad mountain rising imposingly to a height of 2,514 feet above the surrounding plain, believed to be highest Residual Mountain in the north central low lands. The most important natural aspects of this mountain is you can see 03 types of vegetation, which belong to 3 forest types. There is a huge variety of Flora & Fauna in the area with several endemic species. You can also see a Temple and ruins of a historical monastery.
The name Ritigala means ‘the rock as steep as a long pole,’ or it is so named on account of the numerous Riti trees in the jungle nearby.
When Buddhism became established in the island, Ritigala was selected as a suitable spot for the constructon of vihares, or temples. There are scores of natural caves on the slopes of the mountain that were donated by laymen to the priests for the practice of meditation. Many are small, but some are quite large.
The path, which leads to the monastic complex proper, displays extraordinary craftsmanship, being beautifully laid with interlocking ashlar (irregular quadrilateral slabs of hewn stone) in patterns of two, three and four. In addition, it is edged with proportionate curb stones. There are three places in the ascent that incorporate a large circular platform bounded by perfectly curvy slabs of stone. These remarkable features were probably resting-places.
There are some extraordinary buildings known as double-platforms, which are characteristic of Ritigala and similar forest monasteries. A stone bridge connects two raised platforms, created by buildings retaining walls on the slope. One platform is rectangular and appears to have been open to the elements, while the other is square, and was quite likely roofed and divided into eight or nine rooms.
The Retigala Mountain has been declared a Strict Natural Reserve in order to maintain its pristine environment.