Ritigala is a mountain range 43km from Anuradhapura some 766m above sea level and 600m above the surrounding plains. It contains an ancient Buddhist monastery where rock inscriptions dating from 1BC have been found. Ruins indicate the lifestyle of ancient monks who meditated here in the wilds of the natural environment. The area is also known for its elephants and because they frequently come out in the night it is best to visit in the morning.
At the foot of the Ritigala Rock are the ruins of a manmade pond, from which a stone stairway leads to the different sites within the mountain. The revered solitude of the Ritigala Monastery still pervades the air, while alongside it the Ritigala Strict Nature Reserve is a sanctuary of 1,582 hectares to which visitors are allowed only with special permission.