The Ramayana is an ancient Indian epic poem full of drama that narrates the struggle of the divine prince Rama to rescue his wife Sita from the demon king Ravana.

But back in the mists of time the ancient kingdom of Sri Lanka played a crucial role in the unfolding story that is contained in this mammoth work of literature.

It is a role that Indian writer Sachin Bhandary set out to discover, and which he narrates in his report for the First Post website after he “grew increasingly conscious that the island country was ground zero of the great battle of Ramayana”.

He says: “In many ways, contemporary Sri Lanka is like the prosperous and beautiful kingdom of the demon king Ravana. It is lush green, gifted with nature’s bounty and like the mythical kingdom—has seen a war fairly recently. It was only in 2009 that Sri Lanka’s three-decade-long ethnic war came to a brutal end.

Shrouded in mystery

“My quest to visit the places linked with the great epic took me to deep into the heart of the island nation. It all started with Dolukanda Sanjeewani. This mountain seems like it has almost fallen out of nowhere, in what is otherwise a pretty flat surrounding.”

It is a quest that took many twists and turns. Sachin notes that “some academics in Sri Lanka are presenting a theory that Ravana was a Sinhala king and should be revered as one.

“The answers to these questions will always be shrouded in mystery. But there is no denying that many Sri Lankans do identify with the Ramayana and its antagonist, Ravana.

“In fact even our governments are collaborating to promote the tourist trail of this epic. The Sri Lankans in return are being given easy passage to Buddhist sites across India.”

Read more here.

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