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Ritigala

Ritigala is the highest mountain, in the north-central plain of Sri Lanka, measuring 2,513 feet above sea level. It is in close proximity to Kekirawa and Maradankadawala. The mountain mass is about three miles long and about two miles wide at its widest point; it is covered with dense jungle inhabited by wild elephants, leopards and bears. It is the watershed of the MalwatuOya which feeds the Nachchaduwa tank and KaluebaEla which feeds Huruluwewa. The upper part of the mountain is well known for its flora, some of which are rare; it has also a range of wild orchids. The mountain has over 70 known caves which have been used as dwellings by the early inhabitants of the country and subsequently as monasteries by Buddhist monks but there are no paintings in them. It has a long.

history and is referred to as "Aritta-Pabbata" in the Mahawamsa which records that Pandukabhaya, king of Sri Lanka (377-307 BC) sojourned in the mountain for seven years preparing for the wars to capture the kingdom. The early inhabitants of Ritigala referred to as "Yakkhas" joined Pandukabhaya's cause and fought in his many battles. Ritigala appears to have also been used by the King Dutugemunu (101-72 BC) and by the King Jetta Thissa in the 7th century in their wars against the Indian Invaders. There are rock inscriptions which indicate that it had become a monastic retreat for hermit (Pansakulika) monks and a place of religious importance. By the 10th-12th century AD, Ritigala seems to have been abandoned by the hermit monks and soon it was covered by jungle and forgotten.

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