13 June 2014
After the Bodhi-Tree, Fishe and I decided to visit another place associated with the spread of Buddhism in Sri Lanka. So remember Mahinda the son of the Emperor who was sent to Sri Lanka to spread Buddhism? Well, today’s trip was believed to be the meeting place of Mahinda and the Sri Lankan King which inaugurated the presence of Buddhism in the country (4th century). We were pilgrims yesterday whilst visiting the sacred Bodhi tree and we will continue our pilgrimage to the holy site and pay our respects to the religious monuments.
Mihintale, a small town about 12km East of Anuradhapura is a super quick and cheap bus ride away. We arrived in no time and the first sight that greeted us were locals…in their hundreds making the long walk up the mountain slopes. We had no maps on us but one can never get lost- just follow the people and enjoy.
Before we started the climb, we walked past the ruins of a hospital. Mihintale has the oldest hospital in the world. There was also the ruins of a monastery, statues, a refectory, inscriptions and some carvings. We could see Maha Stupa at the summit – ok! 1840 granite steps to reach it.
Before we got into lines to reach the summit, Fishe and I took a go pro selfie with the Ambasthala Dagaba. This dagaba marked the traditional spot where Mahinda first met the King.
Normally, it would take 10 minutes max to go up the summit but since we found ourselves amongst thousands of other pilgrims, we waited and waited for our turn on the summit.
Eventually , we found ourselves at Aradhana Gala. This is where Mahinda landed- yes at the summit. Despite having iron railings, the steep climb can be tough so the locals helped each other up the stairs and offered us their hand as well. Fishe held my hand and we made it to the top.
We were greeted by the lush greenery that surrounds Mihintale. We both knew that it might be many years until we can finally travel again and see another part of the world together. It was super to see Sri Lanka with Fishe!
Since we will be in Colombo tomorrow, we decided to change some money for the return journey and grab some food. We set foot inside a small local bank and joked about robbing it. I don’t think that would go really well with security if we were in a different country but the staff laughed and told us ” We don’t have any money for you to rob- bad luck.” Guess, we’ll have to find another place to exchange some money.