Mihintale, most often visited after a day or two at Anuradhapura, came as a delightful surprise to me. Just 11 kilometers from Sri Lanka's first capital, Mihintale is known as the 'Cradle of Buddhism", a monastic city sprawling across a rock-strewn landscape. It was at Mihintale that the Buddhist sage Mahinda preached Buddhist doctrine to King Devanampiyatissa, who declared the surrounding forest a sanctuary.
Today, a climb of almost 2,000 wide granite steps will bring you to the three peaks atop the 'mountain of Mahinda', which taken together, provide a 360˚ view of the countryside below. The Ambasthale Dagoba nestled in a sandy basin below the three peaks is an active pilgrimage site, and the sounds of trumpets, bells and intoning voices may follow you as you climb up for the views.