Mihintale Rock is over 1080 feet in height and about 13 kilometres east of Anuradhapura. It is on this rock the historic meeting of King Devanapiyatissa and Arahant Mahinda, the son of Emperor Asoka of India, took place in 247 BCE. (Date debated) The discourse of Arhant Mahinda converted the monarch and the populace of Sri Lanka to Buddhism. The link between Buddhism and the environment in Sri Lanka grew stronger with the arrival of Arahant Mahinda

On this day King Devanapiyatissa was hunting in the jungles of Mihintale. Arhant Mahinda requested the King stop his hunting and preached the Teachings of Buddha and urged that all mammals, birds and other creatures enjoy equal rights to live in this land, wherever they may want and said that the land belongs to all people and animals. The Arhant further said that king is only the ruler and not the owner, and advised King Devanapiyatissa to assign Mihintale and the surrounding jungle areas as a sanctuary for wildlife. The Mihintale Wildlife Sanctuary, is the first wild life sanctuary in the world.

Steps were constructed to climb Mihintale in the ancient times. It is stated that King Devanapiyatissa constructed a Vihara and 68 caves for the Bhikkhus to reside in. At the foothill of the mountain are the ruins of a Hospital, medical bath (or stone canoe in which patients were immersed in medicinal oil) a stone inscription and urns belonging to the ancient period have been unearthed. Between the hospital and the steps leading to the rock are the ruins of a large monastery.

On the floors of the square building which is 125 feet on one side, are beautiful carvings and also are stone balustrades and guard stones. As this side is precipitous, the steps are on the eastern side of the slope, spacious and in 4 sections. The stairway has 1840 steps made of granite, leading to the summit. At the end of the first set of steps on the right side of the plain, is a small mountain peak. On this is the most famed Kantaka Chetiya.