Thirteen kilometres east of Anuradhapura on the Trinco road, Mihintale is of enormous significance to the Sinhalese because it is where Buddhism originated in Sri Lanka. In 247 BC, King Devanampiya Tissa of Anuradhapura met Mahinda, son of the great Indian Buddhist emperor Ashoka, while deer hunting around the hill at Mihintale, and was converted to Buddhism.
Exploring Mihintale does involve quite a climb, so you would be wise to visit it early in the morning or late in the afternoon to avoid the midday heat. There are seven authorised guides, who charge around Rs 350 for a ton of information over two hours or so. It pays off if you have a deep interest in Buddhism and the site’s history.
Each year a great festival, the Poson Poya, is held at Mihintale on the Poson full-moon night (usually in June).