If you are looking for destinations for excursions from Anuradhapura or Mihintale to a not too small hidden treasure, a truly undistubed historical place situated in a serene forest-clad area, then the temple called Handagala Gal Len Raja Maha Viharaya Handagala Kanda, situated close to the village of Ratmalgahawewa between Medawachchiya and Horowupotana, should definitely be on your shortlist. It's a perfect place to leave the crowds behind and to collect impressions of a genuine Sinhalese forest monastery from ancient times. It's definitely an ideal location for any kind of mediation.
Handagala is a typical group of so-called cave temples (Gal Len), by which is meant that in ancient times monks took abode in natural rock shelters. Handagala Kanda is the name of the isolated rocky hill in which 45 so-called caves are embedded. Most of the rock shelters have drip ledges to prevent the water from dripping into the caves, indicating that they were inhabited by Buddhist monks in ancient times.
Handagala Kanda is particularly rich in ancient rock inscriptions from various centuries and different states of preservation. This attracted several early archaeologists such as Commissioner H.C.P. Bell and epigraphist Edward Muller from Germany. 30 Handagala inscriptions are documented in Paranavithana's collection "Inscriptions of Ceylon". According to his colleague Nicholas, 14 inscriptions belong to the very early Buddhist period, roughly the second century BC, whereas another 14 are from the first century BC and the remaining two to the first century AD. As most Sri Lankan rock inscriptions from the early Anuradhapura period, the inscriptions use Brahmi charcters and are mainly about donations of the caves by lay persons to the Sangha of the Four Quarters, which is the Buddhist Order.
The top of the hill is crowned by a small ancient brick stupa side by side with a modern white dagoba. A new huge Buddha statue in seated position, facing northeast, is placed in front of the steepest part of the cliff, just below the summit. The views of the surrounding plains with rural villages and Vanni bushlands is pretty enchanting. Clear weather conditions provided, the hills of Mihintale can be spotted in the southwestern direction. They are in 27 km (17 miles), as the crow flies.
Handagala Kanda is located in 50 km (31 miles) from Anuradhapura and 40 km (25 miles) from Mihintale by road. The driving distance to Vavuniya, which is to the northwest on the Jaffna road, is 35 km (22 miles), whereas Trincomalee on the eastern coast is 72 km (45 miles) away.