The Story of The Ravana Ella Cave
By Sadira Sittampalam
Located around 2 kilometres from Ella Town, the Ravana Cave is a rather small cave where it is said that King Ravana used to hide the Indian Princess Sita, according to the story of the Indian epic, Ramayana. In this story, the Demon King is said to have kidnapped Princess Sita, keeping her in this cave, as an act of revenge against Rama.
Rama (husband of Sita), along with his brother Laxmana, had sliced off the nose of Ravana’s sister, which was the reason for the abduction. At the time, the cave was surrounded by thick forests and luscious thickets of wilderness.
While the landscape has now transformed, the cave still stands right behind the Ravana waterfall (Ravana Falls), which is also believed to be where Princess Sita had bathed. Ravana Falls is a 25-metre waterfall and during the wet season, the waterfall is one of the widest in Sri Lanka. Right behind the waterfall, is where you would find the cave.
The cave lies around 1,370 metres above sea level, measuring around 50ft wide, 150ft is long and 60ft high. Getting up to the cave is strenuous but not impossible.
There are around 650 steps, many of them quite steep and quite a few of them broken, with the last few feet being the toughest to climb. The climb up is surrounded by various wild forest plants which add a few extra obstacles for the journey up to the cave. The steps can also be quite slippery, especially since there is nothing to hold onto. However, the climb is more than worth it for the chance to see the cave at the end of it.
The Ravana cave is full of historical mystery and wonder, with excavations of this site revealing evidence of human life that goes back to around 20,000BC, as there was a human skull found at the site which dated back to this time. It is the type of place for people who are interested in learning about ancient history and the various myths and legends that have been associated with places such as these.
While this is a popular tourist attraction, owing to the popularity of Ravana Falls, many people are unaware of the historical significance of these caves.
Moreover, there is more to be uncovered in this small cave as it is thought to be connected to the cave at the Dowa rock temple in Bandarawela-Badulla as part of King Walagamba’s ‘tunnel network’.
This tunnel network has long been rumoured to be the architectural brilliance of King Ravana, as they proved to be a swift means of transport through the hills, but also as it served as a convenient secret passage. This network of caves and tunnels have all been confirmed to be man-made, as they could not have formed naturally.
There are other existing tunnel mouths that are also situated near Ishtripura in Welimada, Senapitiya in Halagala, Ramboda, Labookelle, Wariyapola in Matale, and Seetha Kotuwa in Hasalaka and in many more places, which emphasise the wondrous nature of the cave and its history.