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Ritigala Nature Reserve

Being in the crossroads of the many kingdoms that came to power in the country, Dambulla is known to be a major cultural site with many monuments that beautifully combine the exotic charm of the country with the unique culture and heritage it possesses. One such monument that displays this unique combination is the Ritigala Nature Reserve. According to ancient folklore, especially when referring to the Ramayana, it tells of how this particular mountain nature reserve was once a part of the Himalayan Mountain Range, the other part of the range being in the southern town of Unawatuna. In addition to its link to folklore, the nature reserve was once a hermitage in which many ascetics would meditate, and has been documented since the 3rd century BC, during the reign of King Pandukhabaya. Many of its ruins still lay intact which has answered many questions as to how ancient monks would live their lives in peace and solitude.

While it is a cultural and historical complex, it is also a nature reserve in which many endemic and rare species of flora and fauna can be found. It is believed that this reserve is just one of two places in the island where the Sansevi herb is grown.