Ritigala is not only a serene, calm place ideal for a leisurely visit, it is also remarkable for its history and legends.
There are well known legends related to Ritigala. Two are far more prominent than others.
One is a well-known Ravana legend which says that the Monkey God Hanuman passed over this region in giant leaps, carrying medicinal herbs from the Himalaya Mountains which were meant for the mortally-wounded prince Laksmana, brother of Prince Rama. Hanuman is supposed to have accidentally dropped a heap of soil containing the roots of the herbs at the very place where Ritigala now lies, forming the mountain range. The same story goes for Rumassala as well. The legend says that this is the reason behind these areas having unique flora that is very similar to a particular region in India.
The other popular legend of Ritigala is about a great combatant named Ritigala Jayasena who became the much feared demon ‘Mahasona’ after his death. Demon Mahasona is feared even in this era, mostly by villagers in Sri Lanka. It is believed that its headless body is still spotted at odd hours.
The story goes as follows…
In the village of Ritigala lived a person called Ritigala Jayasena. Being a good Angampora warrior, he challenged Gotaimbara, another warrior who worked in the army of King Dutugemunu, for a duel. Gotaimbara was an energetic short person. Ritigala Jayasena was a tall and well-built man.
On the scheduled day of the fight, at the scheduled time the fight started. They dealt blows at each other but could not connect properly. Ritigala Jayasena’s height was an additional benefit to him. Therefore, Gotaimbara jumped into the air and gave a flying kick to Ritigala Jayasena’s head. The kick was so powerful that Ritigala Jayasena’s head got separated from his body and was thrown miles away.
When Ritigala Jayasena was about to fall dead. God ‘Sakkara’ saw this from the “Seventh Heaven”. As Ritigala Jayasena’s death was going to be a great loss for the country, God Sakkra immediately appeared in the human world. He tried to find a human to find a head, but he could not. So he crept into the jungle at least to find an animal head. Fortunately he found a bear in the jungle. He immediately broke the head, came and fixed it to the body of Ritigala Jayasena.
Ritigala Jayasena regained his life. However, by mistake the head was fixed facing backwards. Out of his hatred towards Gotaimbara, he regained his life as a devil, looking partly human and partly animal. He then used to roam near cemeteries with a club to attack Gotaimbara. As he used to roam near cemeteries people called him “Mahasona”
Even in this present period some people believe that ‘Mahasona’ roams near cemeteries.
To find out more about the fascinating tales and legends of Sri Lanka, you can ask any of our staff at the Kingsbury Hotel Colombo who will be more than happy to help you.