Habarana Sri Lanka

The beautiful Lake of Habarana, Sri Lanka is the primary attraction of the city and can be reached in about 90 minutes via a short walkway. Alternatively, several hotels and excursion companies offer elephant rides (approximately $25 per hour) near the lake and at other locations. You may, however, experience the same unease as the elephants themselves as you observe these enormous creatures staggering through the city entangled in a sea of chains.

Habarana, Sri Lanka

Table of Contents

Habarana Sri Lanka

The substantial settlement of HABARANA is situated at a critical intersection of roads, approximately equidistant from Polonnaruwa, Anuradhapura, and Dambulla (and in close proximity to Sigiriya and Ritigala). Although it provides a satisfactory range of affordable accommodations, its primary purpose is to serve as a launching pad for visiting the principal attractions of the Cultural Triangle. Additionally, it serves as the most practical launching point for visits to the national parks of Kaudulla and Minneriya, which offer some of the most exceptional elephant viewing opportunities in Sri Lanka.

Most cultural triangle tours of Sri Lanka is organized based on Habarana. This centrally located city in the cultural triangle allows the travellers to explore the imprtant historical places in the cultural triangle with out wasting much time on travelling.

The beautiful Lake of Habarana, Sri Lanka is the primary attraction of the city and can be reached in about 90 minutes via a short walkway. Alternatively, several hotels and excursion companies offer elephant rides (approximately $25 per hour) near the lake and at other locations. You may, however, experience the same unease as the elephants themselves as you observe these enormous creatures staggering through the city entangled in a sea of chains.

National Park Kaudulla

Kaudulla National Park, situated approximately 22 kilometres north of Habarana, was established in 2002 to serve as an additional link in the elephant migration corridor by connecting to Wasgamuwa and Minneriya national parks to the south and Somawathiya National Park to the north and east. Comparable to Minneriya, the central attraction is Kaudulla Tank, a lake where elephants congregate when the water is gone. Optimal travel months are from August to December. In September and October, approximately two hundred elephants congregate at the reservoir, which occurs slightly subsequent to Minneriya’s “Gathering” phase. During the dry season, a significant area of the park is submerged in water, which significantly reduces the likelihood of spotting elephants. In addition to an exceptionally varied assortment of avian species, the park’s patchwork of scrubby woodland and grasslands accommodates sambar deer, primates, and the inexorably rare but inevitable leopards and sloth bears.


The Ritigala forest monastery’s enigmatic vestiges are situated on an incline of a densely forested mountainside protected by the Ritigala Strict Nature Reserve, to the north of Habarana. It is believed that the monastery’s location on a mountainside symbolises Aristha from the Ramayana, the location from which Hanuman returned to India from Lanka after discovering where Sita was being held captive. Although the more banal explanation is that the region is elevated and wetter than the adjacent plains, a greater variety of plant species can be found there. There is a belief that during a subsequent journey through Ritigala, Hanuman negligently dropped one of the Himalayan mountain fragments he was transporting from India in search of medicinal herbs (additional fragments were believed to have fallen to earth at Unawatuna and Hakgala).

Ritigala’s seclusion attracted hermits who desired seclusion, and they established their settlements there as early as the third century BC. The term “rag robes,” or “pamesukulikas,” denotes the priests’ solemn oath to wear rags that had been discarded or recovered from bodies. Ritigala was the residence of an order of reclusive and ascetic priests who settled there in the ninth century and devoted their lives to extreme austerity. It seems that the order was established with the intention of reinstating conventional Buddhist values as a reaction to the pretentious way of life that the clergy of the island were permitted to lead. The order’s renunciation moved Sena I (831–851 AD) to the extent that he bequeathed lands and slaves to support the construction of a majestic new monastery at Ritigala; the majority of the ruins visible today date from this era.


Ritigala is an enigmatic and captivating location, rendered even more so by its secluded location in the midst of a dense forest and the lack of visitors. Despite extensive archaeological investigation, the primary objective of nearly everything that remains visible at this location remains largely elusive. While certain sections of the complex have undergone extensive reconstruction, others remain concealed within the forest. A noteworthy feature of the site is the complete absence of residential structures; it seems that the priests resided exclusively in the various caverns that were dispersed throughout the woodland.

Following the entrance, the route skirts the perimeter of the collapsed limestone bricks that once encircled the Banda Pokuna reservoir; this may have functioned ritualistically, with visitors bathing here prior to entering the monastery. At the far end of the reservoir, steep stairs lead to the beginning of a path that, through the forest, connects all of the principal structures of the monastery and was meticulously designed. This pathway is designed in the style of the Arankele meditation route. After approximately 200 metres, the path reaches the initial of several subterranean enclosures, which consists of three elevated terraces surrounded by a retaining wall. What is the nearest? It is one of the defining double-platform structures of Ritigala. Typically, these consist of two elevated platforms that face east-west and are connected by a stone “bridge” and encircled by a small “moat”; one platform generally retains pillar remnants, whereas the other remains unadorned. Several hypotheses have been advanced concerning the initial intentions of these structures. One theory posits that the platforms were utilised for meditation purposes, with group meditation taking place on the open platform and solitary meditation taking place in the building on the connected platform across from it. To provide a natural form of air conditioning, water would have been utilised to fill the “moat” that encircled them. An additional underground courtyard is located to the east (right) by a few yards from this enclosure. Although it is commonly known as the hospital, it was formerly a bathhouse or an almshouse.

The pavement continues in a straight line until it reaches one of the “roundabouts” that are spaced along its length. This particular roundabout, which bears resemblance to the one at Arankele, may have originally functioned as a covered rest area. Twenty metres before the roundabout, a trail branches off to the right and leads to the so-called “Fort,” which is reachable via a stone bridge spanning a stream and offering picturesque vistas of the adjacent woodlands while traversing substantial tree roots.

Following the roundabout, a few unexcavated platforms will be visible in the forests to the left of the trail. Since British archaeologist H.C.P. Bell began investigating the site in 1893, these remain precisely as he observed them. Two additional submerged courtyards are encountered at a depth of 500 metres. A second courtyard abode a formidable double-platform edifice, which is among the most sizable in the entire monastery. Two stele border the courtyard on the left; according to one hypothesis, monks engaged in walking meditation between these stele. Short distances separate the second courtyard and an additional substantial double platform.

Minneriya National Park

Minneriya National Park, situated a brief ten-minute journey east of Habarana, offers a refreshing respite from the monotony of the city for individuals grappling with ruin fatigue. The park contains an unusually diverse array of habitat types, including arid tropical forest, wetlands, grasslands, and terrain formerly utilised for slash-and-burn (chena) agriculture, despite its relatively small size. The grand Minneriya Tank, constructed by the renowned tank-builder and monk-baiter Mahasena, is the focal point of the park. The area adjacent to the entrance is adorned with magnificent satinwood, palu (rosewood), halmilla, and weera trees that dot the superb dry-zone evergreen forest; however, wildlife observation may be difficult due to the dense forest cover.

Here, elephants are the primary attraction. The elephant corridor, which connects the national parks of Kaudulla and Wasgomuwa, passes through Minneriya. Elephants traverse Minneriya during specific seasons; local aides should be able to provide information regarding the locations that exhibit the greatest concentrations of elephants at any given time. From as far away as Trincomalee, three hundred or more individuals visit the tank’s ever-declining shores to consume, bathe, and feed on the newly sprouted grass that emerges from the lake bed as the waters recede. Additionally, they visit to socialise and find partners. From July to October, their population is at its highest, with peaks in August and September, when water elsewhere evaporates. Annually, the most sizable assemblage of Asian elephants occurs during the period commonly referred to as “The Gathering.” Alternate periods may witness a reduced presence of elephants; however, observers typically find it more feasible to spot them from the principal Habarana–Polonnaruwa road that traverses the park’s northern boundary. The park is inhabited by a multitude of fauna, including spotted deer, macaques, purple-faced langurs, sloth bears, and possibly twenty leopards (although encounters with the latter two are exceedingly rare).

Sanjeewa Padmal (Seerendipity tours)

This blog is all about travelling in Sri Lanka, I am trying to illuminate my readers with a wide range of information related to Sri Lanka travel. Please feel free to contact me at any time if you need more information. Furthermore, we can organize your holiday package or any travel related requirement in Sri Lanka. Please contact us on info@seerendipitytours.com... read more

Recent Posts

Leave a Reply

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

WhatsApp us