To experience a different aspect of Buddhism in Sri Lanka, explore the ruins of the Ritigala Forest Monastery, which once hosted the earliest community of Buddhist practitioners on the island and present a vastly different picture of Buddhist monasticism than is practiced today. Discovering the cultural treasures of Sri Lanka is so much easier when you book Sri Lanka tailor made tours to suit your lifestyle, especially those excursions offered by Shanti Travel. Put yourself in the hands of true travel professionals when you sign up for any of their quality Sri Lanka tour packages.
The modern Buddhist monasteries and worship centres are a far cry from the earliest presence of Buddhist practice in the country. At the Ritigala Forest Monastery, home of a dedicated group of ascetics known as the “Pansukulikas”, you will find no Bodhi tree and no stupas or other adornments of any kind, save a few broken Buddha statues lying abandoned in several caves. These monks practiced severe notions of austerity in the pursuit of enlightenment. Their name translates to “rag robes”, a reference to their robes which were cleaned, repaired and pressed rags, primarily shrouds acquired from cemeteries. Yet the monastery itself is an impressive structure, set on the eastern side of the Ritigala Mountain, the highest peak in the northwestern plains. Spanning an area of 59 acres, it features an artificial reservoir that is a symbol of architectural genius, a polygonal bund of 366 metres. The monastery features a range of impressive bridges composed of stone, expansive courtyards and raised platforms that were ideal for meditation. It is a true forest retreat imbued with the aura of timeless spirituality, a testament of the powerful and dedicated souls who once occupied these impressive surrounds.