Mihintale Rock Temple

  • Category: World Heritage Sites
  • Distance From Colombo‎: 216 km
  • Established: 12th century BC
  • District: Anuradhapura
  • Drive Time: 4 h 40 m
  • Location: North Central Province
  • Availability: All Year
  • Txp: Van, Car, Jeep, Bus
  • Area: 432 km²
  • Best Time To Visit: July and December
  • Elevation: 311 m above sea level
About Mihintale

Mihintale is located 13 km east of Anuradhapura, of great importance for Sri Lanka. In 247 BC, King Devanampiya Tissa of Anuradhapura was participating in a deer hunt on the Mihintale mountain, when he was approached by Mahinda, son of the great Buddhist emperor Ashoka. Mahinda tested the wisdom of the king and, considering him a worthy disciple, converted him to the Buddhist faith. Since then the city is regarded as the place from which Buddhism developed in Sri Lanka.

Good to know
During the June month, Buddhists make a pilgrimage from Anuradhapura to Mihintale, and it can get a bit crowded but is still an enjoyable experience.
Respect for the Buddhist culture in Sri Lanka
Temple Etiquette

Theravada Buddhism is the official religion of the majority of Sri Lanka practised by 70% of Sri Lanka’s population. Theravada Buddhism and religion have long influenced culture is particularly strong in the southern and central regions of the country. Before Visit, find out about these practical label tips.

Never touch or pat the top of a Buddhist monk’s head, including small children in temples. This seen as disrespectful.

Don’t take selfies with a statue of a Buddha.

Never turn your back on any figure of the Buddha.

Don’t share appropriate clothes when you are going to religious sites or temples.

Keep in mind that on full moon days, Poya (monthly) is not possible to serve or sell alcohol. Even in these days, no meat is sold in the markets.

If you have Buddha tattoos on your body, you must take care to hide them because it is considered disrespectful to have a Buddha image on your body.

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Mihintale Highlights
The Rock Temple

Ambasthale Dagoba

Buddhist stupa

The final, frangipani-edged staircase leads to the Ambasthale Dagoba, the place where Mahinda converted King Devanampiya Tissa to Buddhism. Nearby, the statue of the king wearing the traditional dress stands where the meeting with Mahinda took place. The name Ambasthale means ‘mango tree’ and refers to the riddle used by Mahinda to test the intelligence of the sovereign.
On the side, at the top of a stairway carved into the rock, is a giant white Buddha statue.
The Bodhi Tree or Bodhi Fig Tree to the left of the staircase, which leads to the Mahasaya Dagoba, is considered one of the large and ancient sacred fig tree in Sri Lanka. The tree is surrounded by a fence decorated with prayer flags left by pilgrims.

Sinha Pokuna


Immediately below the monks’ refectory, on the second plateau (and near the entrance if arriving from Old Road), a small basin surmounted by a rampant lion 2 m high is considered one of the most beautiful animal subject sculptures in the whole country. Resting your hands on the lion’s paws, you find yourself entirely in line with the mouth of the fair, from which a jet of water emerged. Around the pool, you can admire some beautifully decorated friezes.

Aradhana Gala

Panoramic Point

To the east of Ambasthale Dagoba, a steep path of rocks heated by the sun rises to a point from which you can admire magnificent views of the surrounding valley. Along the way, there are railings. Aradhana Gala means “rock of meditation”.

Mahinda's Cave


Along the downhill path that starts from the back of the courtyard of the relic house, to the north-east of the Ambasthale Dagoba, in 10 minutes you will reach a cave with a large flat stone. It is said that Mahinda lived here. The path is slightly bumpy and painful to walk barefoot.

What to See and Do in Mihintale
Closest landmarks
  • Assembly Hall
  • Bodhi tree
  • Buddha statue
  • Dagoba
  • Et Vihara
  • Hospital
  • Indikatu Seya complex
  • Kaludiya Pokuna
  • Kantaka Chetiya
  • Mahaseya Dagoba
  • Mihintale Museum
  • Ruins
  • Refectory of the monks and house of relics
  • Naga Pokuna
  • Statue of the king
  • Wilpattu National Park
  • Kaudulla National Park
  • Galoya National Park
  • Nuwara Wewa (Lake)
  • Village Experience

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With Book Now and Pay Later Program, you can enjoy your Vacation in Sri Lanka months before. You can lock down your travel dreams Paying a minimum deposit payment of 30% of the total cost. You can pay the balance up until 60 days before the tour commencement date – leaving you to enjoy the holiday countdown without the financial worry. It is interest-free, you don’t need to worry about being charged the inflated rates that come along with loans or credit cards. All that’s left to do is get excited about your next trip! It is valid all year, except for the July 15 - August and December. if you have planned to visit Sri Lanka one of those months the deposit will be is to 60%. Please note that the cancellation will not refund the deposit.

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Buddhism in Sri Lanka
A Short History:

  • There are around 6,000 Buddhist monasteries on Sri Lankawith approximately 15,000 monks.
  • Sri Lanka was ruled by 181 monarchs from the Anuradhapura to Kandy periods.
  • Buddhism was introduced to Sri Lanka in 236 b.e. (cir. 250 BCE)
  • Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi is the oldest tree in the world, and it planted in 249 (2268 years ago) BC
  • Sri Lanka’s Cultural Triangle includes three major sites that form a triangle. Anuradhapura to the north, Polonnaruwa to the east and Kandy to the south-west. Inside the triangle, there are other places of interest; Mihintale, Ritigala and Dambulla.

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Spiritual Journeys To Sri Lanka

Wonderful 15-day spiritual tour in Sri Lanka, bursting with cultural richness, many stunning historical landscapes and fabulous sacred sites with intriguing history. Commencing from Negombo, you will explore the former capital cities and discover more than 9 amazing ancient monuments and temples, such as: The Sacred City of Anuradhapura (UNESCO World Heritage Site), Sigiriya rock fortress (UNESCO World Heritage Site), the Ancient City of Polonnaruwa (UNESCO World Heritage Site), the incredible stone cave temple in Dambulla, the Ancient Kingdom of Yapahuwa, Arankele Ancient Monastery and the Mysterious Forest Monastery of Ritigala.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What type of Buddhism is practised in Sri Lanka?

What type of Buddhism is practised in Sri Lanka? Theravada Buddhism is the official religion of Sri Lanka, with about 70% of the country’s population as followers.

How many Buddhist temples and monks are there in Sri Lanka?

There are around 6,000 Buddhist monasteries on Sri Lanka with approximately 15,000 monks.

Did Buddha visit Sri Lanka?

The Siddhartha Gautama’s (Buddha) first visit was in the ninth month after Buddhahood on Duruthu (January) Full Moon Day.(1 B.E. or 528 B.C.)

How did Buddhism spread to Sri Lanka?

How did Buddhism spread to Sri Lanka?
Buddhism came to Sri Lanka in the third century BCE. After the Third Buddhist council by Arhanthà Mahinda Thero, son of Emperor Ashoka, during the reign of Devanampiya Tissa of Anuradhapura.

How old is the Buddhist religion?

The religion is 2,500 years old and is followed by 350 million Buddhists worldwide.

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