Fact or Fiction – The Famous Legends of Sri Lanka
Published: 14 May 2015
Sri Lanka, an island-nation to the south of India, is known as the ‘Teardrop of the Indian Ocean’. Formerly part of a land mass called Gondwana that connected it to India, Antarctica, Australia and Madagascar, it boasts of 2,500 years of recorded history. But it’s the country’s unrecorded past, shrouded in myth and mystery, which supposedly witnessed dagger-clawed inhabitants, monuments constructed by aliens and malevolent gods who roamed amongst men that makes travelling to Sri Lanka just that much more exciting. Whether you’re going surfing in Kandy, soaking up the culture in Colombo or taking in the sights on your Sri Lanka family holidays, Lanka Dvipa is home to a range of fascinating legends that you can explore during your Sri Lanka tours. Here are our favourites:
The Legend of Ravana:
In Indian mythology, Ravana is painted as an evil demi-god with ten heads, who abducted Rama’s wife Sita and took her to Lanka. But the myths about Ravana are quite different in Sri Lanka. There, he is revered as a great warrior and able monarch, who amassed great land and wealth for his kingdom. His ten heads were actually symbols of his great knowledge of many subjects and profound wisdom. However, both legends hold that Ravana, his family and friends were killed at the hands of Rama (an Aryan prince) and he was succeeded by Vibhishanal. While we’re not sure which country got it quite right, you’ll definitely find a number of depictions of this epic battle between Rama and Ravana when you visit Sri Lanka.
The Legend of Nittaewo:
The Nittaewo, dagger-clawed pygmies who fed on monitor lizards and star tortoises, were believed to be exceptionally good climbers and bear close resemblance to orangutans and gorillas, with reddish hair all over their body and very sharp and strong claws. Unlike the apes however, they walked upright. Legend has it that meat kept out to dry by the Vedah hunters would be snatched away by the Nittaewo, who grew into a menace. You don’t have to go hunting for your Sri Lanka travel insurance papers to save you from them though, because the entire tribe was believed to have been driven to extinction by the Veddahs. According to the story, the very last of the Nittaewo were gathered and pushed into a cave whose mouth was covered with wood and set ablaze. While no remains have been found of them yet, historians as far back as Pliny the Elder make mention of ‘ape-men’ that were found in Ceylon.
The Legend of Sigiriya:
Imagine a design so futuristic for its time that people had to concede it had to be the work of aliens! Sigiriya, a giant rock fortress and ancient palace is one of the eight wonders of the ancient world and one of the most popular places to visit in Sri Lanka. Built as a monastery in the 1st century B.C., it was converted into a pleasure garden and fortress in the 5th century A.D. for King Kashyapa. Another myth tells the story of how the massive structure was actually built by Vishwakarma, the engineer of gods for Kuwera, the treasurer of gods. Whether a work of human effort, divine design or extraterrestrial intelligence, you must visit the site during your Sri Lanka holidays in 2015 and witness this wonderful monument that defied the constructional constraints of its time yourself.
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