NUWARA ELIYA, the picturesque Sri Lankan hill station known for its fine quality tea, has seen a growing traffic of visitors to what tourist brochures term “the only Sita temple in the world”. The kovil complex built towards the end of last centaury which is patterned on the modern south Indian temple, is set in idyllic countryside beside a clear stream. Adjacent to it is another new temple dedicated to Hanuman, the monkey-god, who according to mythology was instrumental in rescuing Sita from Lanka.
Ravana, one of the most powerful rulers of the world reigned the island of Lanka according the one of the great Indian epics, Ramayana believed to be written in 4th century BC by Valmiki in India. Ramayana paints Ravana as a tyrant of Raksha Tribe who exercised mighty power over gods demons and humans. However he is considered a one of the most powerful Emperors of Lanka by the Sri Lankans. Ravana is also considered to be the most revered devotee of Shiva. Images of Ravana are seen associated with Shiva at some temples. He also appears in the Buddhist Mahayana text Laṅkāvatāra Sūtra, in Buddhist Ramayanas and Jatakas, as well as in Jain Ramayanas. In some scriptures, he is depicted as one of Vishnu‘s cursed doorkeepers.
As per the Ramayana epic, Sita was the wife of Rama, the hero of the story. One one day Rama and Lakshmana (half brother of Rama) wounded a Raksha (demon) princess who tried to seduce Rama. She returned to her brother Ravana, the ten-headed ruler of Lanka. In retaliation, Ravana devised a plan to abduct Sita after hearing about her incomparable beauty. Ravana disguised himself as an old beggar and kidnapped Sita and brought her to the land of Lanka on his flying chariot known as Dandumonara (pushpaka vimanaya). Ravana hid Sita in several places in his kingdom as per the legend where Rama, the hero of the story finally managed to defeat Rama with a monkey army led by the monkey Hanuman and rescued Sita.
Most Indians and Sri Lankans believe that the epic Ramayana is woven around a real king who ruled over Sri Lanka over 4000-6000 years ago. The country is full of places which are linked Rama, Sita, Hanuman and Ravana.
The Rama Setu, a chain of limestone shoals, between Rameswaram and Mannar is believed to be the bridge that Hanuman built to cross the sea to reach the kingdom of Lanka. Later the Europeans named this as the Adam’s Bridge.
Sita Eliya in Nuwara Eliya, Streepura in Ratnapura, Ravana Cave in Ella, Sita Kotuwa, in Gurulupotha are some the places which Ravana is said to have hidden Sita from time to time. There are multiple places associated with his flying machine and considered ancient airports built to land the Dandumonara flying machine. Some of them are Wariyapola (port of the flying machine, Wa-riya-pola), Maskeliya Ravana Gala, Horton Plains (Maha Eliya) and Ussangoda down south are considered be some of the airports of ancient Lanka.
Divurumpola near Welimada which is Buddhist temple has become a major Hindu pilgrimage site in recent years, as Divurumpola is said to be the location where Sita, underwent the famous fire ordeal which is known as Agni Pariksha. Dunuwila is a small village in the central highlands of Sri Lanka where it is believed to be the place of the final battle between Rama and Ravana took place.
When Lakhshmana and Rama were critically injured during the battle with Ravana, Hanuman was asked to bring a life saving medicinal plant from.Sanjeevani Mountain. Forgetting the name of the plant, he brought the whole mountain with him back to Lanka and while traveling five prices of the mountain is said have dropped in Dolukanda, Rumassala, Ritigala, Thalladi, and Kachchativu, each place now geographically unique to its surrounding.
Rock outcrops of the sea where the Great Basses Reef Lighthouse and Little Basses Reef Lighthouse lies are called Maha Ravana Kotuwa and Kura Ravana Kotuwa in Sri Lanka due to the belief that these were the remains of a Fort of Ravana.
‘Sita Eliya’ is believed to be the place to which Sita was brought by her captor Ravana in order to save her from an eye ailment arising from her been hidden in a dark place for a long period devoid of sunlight (Abhayavardhana, 2004). However most hindu legends believes this area to be the Ashoka Vatika mentioned in Ramayana, where Sita was hidden. Today’s Hakkgala Gardens is believed to be part of the Ashoka Vatika (Ashoka garden) of the mighty emperor Ravana. (Arumugam, 1991). However the name Sita Eliya simply means the Cold Plains in Sinhala language.
There is a cold water stream passing where the kovil is located. It is said this to be the place where Sita bathed during captivity. At this location, the water flows over a rocky plateau with some potholes created by erosion. Some believe these has the footprint of the Elephant which Ravana was riding and some believe these to be the footprints of Hanuman.
Arumugam in 1991 records “The Sita Amman Kovil found today at the site is but a humble tribute, in brick and mortar and tagaram sheets, perpetuating an immortal episode in the story of ancient Lanka. It was built by Sivamayam Sangara Swamy. The statues of Rama, Sita Lakshmana, Hanuman, Krishna and Ganesh are bound within”
However few years later, realizing the tourism potential of the legend connected Ramayana, this site was developed extensively and today one of the main destinations for the tourists visiting Ramayana Trails.
Altertnate Names : Sita Amman Kovil, Seeta Amman Kovil, Sita Amman Temple, Seeta Amman Temple, Hanuman Kovil, Hanuman Temple, Sri Baktha Hanuman Kovil
- Abhayavardhana, E., 2004. Heritage of Kandurata. 1st ed. Kandy: Kandurata Development Bank, in association with the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, pp.181-182.
- Arumugam, S. (1991) “SITA AMMAN KOVIL, NUWARA ELIYA,” in More Hindu temples of Sri Lanka: Ancient, medieval and modern. London: S. Arumugam, pp. 73–74.
Map of Seetha Amman Temple (Kovil) at Sita Eliya
The map above also shows other places of interest within a approximately 20 km radius of the current site. Click on any of the markers and the info box to take you to information of these sites
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Travel Directions to Seetha Amman Temple (Kovil) at Sita Eliya
Route from Colombo to Seetha Amman Kovil
Route from Kandy to Seetha Amman Kovil
|Through : Rajagiriya – Avissawella – Dehiowita – Karawanella – Kitulgala – Ginigathena – Hatton – Thalawakele – Nuwara Eliya
Distance : 167 km
Travel time : 3.5- 4 hours.
Driving directions : see on google map
|Through : Gampola – – Nuwara Eliya
Distance : 84 km
Travel time : 2.5 hours.
Driving directions : see on google map