Mihintale is the most important place for Sri Lankan Buddhists because that is where Buddhism was first introduced to the country. The King Devanam Piyatissa who reigned at Anuradhapura received the first message of Buddhism at this mountain in 247 BC which was delivered by Thera Mahinda, the son of the great Buddhist emperor Ashoka of India at that time. This deliverance is said to have happened on a Poson Poya day which falls in the month of June and therefore it is celebrated at Mihintale every year.

Mihintale, also known as “Missaka Pabbatha” is a peak of a mountain range which has steps cut on the rock to climb up to a summit that is 1000 feet in height. Aradhana Gala, another rock which is known as the place where the Thera Mahinda and his group of Buddhist monks landed after travelling through air from India. The view from the summit is of course enchanting and quite worth the long climb. It is best to manage the climb early in the morning if you wish to manage it comfortably because once sun is high, the rock get heated and hard for bare feet. Maha Saya is the large stupa built on top of the summit and still survives in its full glory as a result of careful preservation processes.

There are other stupas around the Mihintale hill like the Kantaka Cethiya and Ambhastala Dageba which had been built by various kings along the years. Scattered at the foot of this sacred mountain are some ancient ruins that have been discovered to be an ancient hospital complex. Traditional medical equipments had been found at this site.