Although Arankale is one of Sri Lanka’s most charming ancient sites in sylvan surroundings, it’s rarely visited due to it’s location off the beaten path. Arankale is a so-called Padhanagara monastery, that’s a modern name for forest monasteries of a special group of reclusive monks in the late Anuradhapura period. The Buddhist fraternity known for their austere abodes was called Pamsukulikas. This term, literally meaning „rag-robe“, refers to a vow taken by these forest monks to wear only robes made from rags found at cremation sites. Their most famous and largest forest monasteries are Ritigala in near Sigiriya and the Western Monasteries of Anuradhapura. Arankale, however, is comparable in size and definitely one of the most important ruins from that specific sect. As in the case of Ritigala, the monks were attracted to Arankale not only by ist isolation but also by the biodiversity of medicinal plants in the area. Arankale, like Ritigala, had a so-called hospital where these Ayurvedic plants were used for treatments. Further typical elements of Pamsukulika forest monasteries are bathes, urinal stones and meditation plattforms and meditation pathes. One specific attraction of Arankale is a picturesque cave of an even earlier period, it is said to have been abode of Maliyadeva, who according to legend was the last monk in Sri Lanka who attained enlightenment.
Nuwan Chinthaka Gajanayaka