Mihintale is a site of great importance for Sri Lanka, as the city is regarded as the place from which Buddhism developed in Sri Lanka. This optional excursion will introduce us to the legend of King Devanampiya Tissa, who in 247 BC was taking part in a deer hunt on the Mihintale mountain when he was approached by Mahinda, the son of the great Buddhist emperor Ashoka. Mahinda tested the king’s wisdom and, considering him a worthy disciple, converted him to the Buddhist faith.

Highlights of our visit include Ambasthale Dagoba, a Buddhist stupa; Naga Pokuna, or Snake Pond, which takes its name from the five-hooded cobra which is carved on to rock just above the surface of the water; and after a steep climb, we enjoy breath-taking panoramic views from Aradhana Gala, or Meditation Rock. We continue to Kaludiya Pokuna (Black Water Pond), an ancient monastic site where monks still meditate, hidden in the surrounding forest.

Isurumuniya Temple is an ancient Buddhist temple built by King Devanampiya Tissa, as a residence for 500 high caste children whom he ordained. Nowadays, it is particularly noted for its well-preserved rock carvings, which depict local legends.


Please note: When entering temples and other sacred places it is required to cover shoulders and knees, and shoes may need to be removed.


Please note: All Freedom Day descriptions represent a typical itinerary and may not operate exactly as described. Local operators may vary from time to time.

This Excursion is featured in the following itineraries:

The Very Best of Sri Lanka