The mountain has over 70 known caves which have been used as dwellings by the early inhabitants of the country and subsequently as monasteries by Buddhist monks but there are no paintings in them. It has a rich documented history and is referred to as "arittha-pabbata" in the Mahavamsa, the great historical chronicle which records that Pandukabhaya, the third king of Sri Lanka (377-307 BC) sojourned in the mountain for seven years preparing for the wars to capture the kingdom. The early inhabitants of Ritigala referred to as "yakkas" joined Pandukabhaya’s cause and fought in his many battles. Ritigala appears to have been also used by King Dutugemunu (101-72 BC) and by King Jetthatissa in the 7th century in their wars against the Indian Invaders. There are rock inscriptions which indicate that gradually, Ritigala had become a monastic retreat for hermit (Pamsukulika) monks and a place of religious significance. By the 10th-12th century AD however Ritigala seems to have been abandoned by the hermit monks and soon it was covered by jungle and forgotten.

It is covered with dense jungle inhabited by wild elephants, leopards and bears. It is the watershed of the Malwatu Oya which feeds the Nachaduwa tank and Kalueba Ela which feeds Huruluwewa. The upper part of the mountain is well known for its flora, some of which are rare; it has also a range of wild orchids.






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