We decided to come here in the late afternoon after a long and tiring drive instead of resting and relaxing at our hotel. It was a good decision and only 12km from Anuradhapura. Definitively not a site to miss while travelling especially as most travellers are in the area anyway.
The sacred mountain of Mihintale is the birthplace of the Sinhalese Buddhism. According to legend, this was where King Devanampiya Tissa and the Buddhist monk Arahat Mahinda met in 247 BC and discussed Buddhism. So convincing was the monk that after this conversation, King Devanampiya Tissa converted, became a disciple of Mahinda and built a Buddhist temple at the bottom of the Aradhana Gala rock. The people of his kingdom followed suit.
We expected a sleepy site however, the place was overrun with locals! I loved the vibrant atmosphere of surrounding temple, apart from the annoying announcements continually shouted in the Sinhala language by the ticket office staff.
Entire families were visiting at the same time as us. Lots of very friendly people smiling at us all the time, but also some very pushy old women too. No touts or forceful ‘guides’. A few men were fascinated by Joanna’s hair colour but she very firmly shrugged off their advances and we were left alone to just sightsee and watch the locals.
It was interesting to see that the women were as curious about us as we are about them. They were obviously watching us and gossiping about us all the time while they smiled. In general I found women in Sri Lanka to be very friendly.
Aside from temple areas we saw very few women. They were especially rare in the cities. In fact, thinking back, during our entire stay I think we only encountered ONE female receptionist. Every other hotel, guest house and B&B employee was male. Even the maids were male. We wondered whether the reason for the almost exclusively male workforce was because women were busy at home with the kids?
Anyway, back to Mihintale:
1840 granite steps to the top. Most of locals were barefooted.
The Ambasthale Dagoba. Monkeys seemed to love the area around Mihintale temple.
Entrance fee for foreign tourists: 4USD (500Rs) – surprisingly cheap when compared to other sites.