Sri Lanka

Explore Offbeat Sri Lanka- Mihintale and Minneriya National Park

Nestled in the heart of Sri Lanka, amidst its lush landscapes and rich cultural heritage, two gems are waiting to be explored: Mihintale and Minneriya National Park. Each offering a unique experience, these destinations beckon travellers seeking to immerse themselves in history, spirituality, and the wonders of nature.


Standing at the base of Mihintale, I am filled with a sense of reverence and awe. This sacred hill, just a short drive away from the ancient city of Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka, holds profound significance in the history of Buddhism. The lush green landscape and the serene ambience make it a truly special place.

Steeped in history and spirituality, Mihintale is adorned with ancient stupas, monastic ruins, and serene meditation spots that invite visitors to reflect on and connect with the teachings of Buddhism. As you climb the steps to Mihintale Rock, you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside, offering a glimpse into Sri Lanka’s storied past and spiritual heritage.

Mihintale is said to be the point of meeting between Mahinda, the son of Emperor Ashoka, who arrived from India, and King Devanampiyatissa, where they formed and preached the doctrine of Buddhism, which was the opening point of Buddhism in Sri Lanka. It is believed that in June, Mahinda arrived from India on Poson Full Moon Poya Day and stayed here.

Note: Poson, often referred to as Poson Poya, is an annual celebration of the introduction of Buddhism in Sri Lanka in the third century BC that is held by Sri Lankan Buddhists. The festival is the second most significant Buddhist celebration of the year, after Vesak, and the most significant Poya (full moon) holiday of the year.

Why is Mihintale so famous?

1. Mihintale is renowned as the place where Buddhism was introduced to Sri Lanka. It is closely associated with the arrival of Arahat Mahinda, the son of Emperor Ashoka of India, who brought Buddhism to the island. This event is considered a pivotal moment in Sri Lankan history and Buddhism’s spread in the country.

2. Mihintale is home to the Great Stupa, a massive and ancient Buddhist monument that serves as a symbol of the site’s historical and religious significance. The stupa is a focal point of pilgrimages and cultural significance for Buddhists in Sri Lanka.

3. Mihintale, along with the ancient city of Anuradhapura, where it is located, has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This recognition underscores its cultural and historical importance on a global scale.

Mihintale is not just a historical site; it’s a place of deep spiritual significance. The Mahaseya stupa, gleaming white against the blue sky, is a reminder of the enduring presence of Buddhism in this land. Pilgrims and devotees gather here to pay their respects, and the atmosphere is imbued with a sense of tranquility and devotion.

My heart races with excitement as I approach the entrance of Minneriya National Park. This vast wilderness in Sri Lanka is known for its incredible wildlife and, most notably, the gathering of elephants. The anticipation of witnessing these majestic creatures in their natural habitat is palpable.

Connection with Buddhism 

According to tradition, Mahinda arrived in Sri Lanka in June, specifically on Poson Full Moon Poya Day, which is still celebrated annually as a major religious festival in Sri Lanka. He is said to have landed in the vicinity of Mihintale and then proceeded to meet King Devanampiyatissa.

During their encounter, Mahinda is believed to have engaged the king in a series of discussions about Buddhism, eventually leading to the king’s acceptance of the faith. This event is considered pivotal in the spread of Buddhism in Sri Lanka and is commemorated as a significant moment in the country’s religious history.

Following this encounter, Mahinda is said to have established a monastic community at Mihintale, which served as a centre for Buddhist teachings and practice. The site became an important pilgrimage destination for Buddhists and continues to be revered as such to this day.

Mihintale is also known for its numerous ancient stupas, rock inscriptions, and other archaeological remains, making it a fascinating site for both religious pilgrims and history enthusiasts. The area’s serene natural beauty adds to its allure, making it a place of spiritual significance and tranquility.


Minneriya National Park Safari

Minneriya National Park Safari is the best in class, considering the number of elephants living in the area. The National Park is very famous because of the biggest crowd of Asian elephants. Minneriya is the top-most-liked place for all elephant lovers and photographers around the world. The giant tusker is an icon of the animal kingdom, and this national park has it in abundance.

Mihintale and Minneriya National Park

The park’s expansive grasslands, forests, and reservoirs provide an ideal habitat for these majestic creatures, allowing visitors to witness them in their natural environment. One of the most spectacular sights at Minneriya is the gathering of elephants during the dry season, when herds from the surrounding areas congregate near the Minneriya Tank in search of water and food. This phenomenon, known as “The Gathering,” offers a breathtaking opportunity to observe large numbers of elephants interacting and socializing.

Among the elephants that roam the park, the giant tuskers stand out as iconic symbols of the animal kingdom. These magnificent creatures, with their impressive tusks, command attention and admiration, drawing visitors from around the world to witness their beauty and grandeur.

For photographers, Minneriya National Park presents endless opportunities to capture stunning images of elephants against the backdrop of the park’s picturesque landscapes. Whether it’s a close-up portrait of a tusker, a herd crossing the grasslands, or playful interactions between elephants, the park offers a wealth of photographic subjects waiting to be immortalized.

Mihinthalaya and Minneriya National Park


In addition to elephants, Minneriya is also home to a diverse array of wildlife, including deer, sloth bears, leopards, and a wide variety of bird species. Exploring the park on a safari allows visitors to experience the richness of its biodiversity and immerse themselves in the wonders of the natural world.

Overall, Minneriya National Park stands as a testament to Sri Lanka’s commitment to conservation and wildlife preservation, offering visitors an unforgettable experience amidst the splendour of nature and the majesty of its resident elephants.

So, here’s my detailed itinerary and travel guide for Mihintale and Minneriya National Park.


Key Points To Remember for Mihintale and Minneriya National Park

Here are some key points to remember while visiting Mihintale and Minneriya National Park:


1. Respect the religious significance: Mihintale is a sacred site for Buddhists, so dress modestly and behave respectfully.
2. Footwear: Remove your shoes before entering religious sites such as temples and stupas.
3. Photography: While photography is usually permitted, be mindful of any restrictions in specific areas, especially around religious structures.
4. Sun protection: Wear sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses, as Mihintale can be quite sunny, especially during the day.
5. Hydration: Carry water with you to stay hydrated, especially if you plan on exploring the site extensively.
6. Guided tours: Consider hiring a local guide to learn more about the history and significance of Mihintale.
7. Silence and tranquillity: Maintain a peaceful atmosphere, especially around meditation areas and shrines.
8. Litter-free: Dispose of trash responsibly and help keep the site clean for others to enjoy.

Minneriya National Park:

1. Safari timings: Plan your visit during the early morning or late afternoon for the best chances of wildlife sightings, particularly elephants.
2. Safari vehicles: Book a safari jeep with a certified guide to explore the park safely and responsibly.
3. Binoculars and camera: Bring binoculars and a camera with a zoom lens to capture wildlife sightings from a distance.
4. Quiet observation: Be patient and avoid making loud noises to increase your chances of spotting animals, especially elephants.
5. Respect wildlife: Keep a safe distance from animals and refrain from feeding or disturbing them.
6. Stay in the vehicle: Unless instructed otherwise by your guide, remain inside the safari vehicle at all times for your safety.
7. Environmental awareness: Minimize your environmental impact by avoiding littering and respecting the natural habitat.
8. Follow park rules: Adhere to all park regulations and guidelines provided by your guide or park authorities to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for everyone.

By keeping these key points in mind, you can make the most of your visit to Mihintale and Minneriya National Park in Sri Lanka while respecting their cultural and natural significance.


Please follow and like us:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Every Corner of World Protection Status

Keep in touch

Get My Best Content Sent To You!

Make sure to subscribe to our newsletter and be the first to know the news.


    Enjoy this blog? Please spread the word :)