Birding at Mihintale.
Declared a sanctuary for animals in the 3rd century BC by Arahath Mahinda, Mihintale is one of the hidden treasures of the Cultural Triangle. If you have an keen interest in ancient history or natural history, Mihintale is a great place to spend a few days.
In a resent birdwatching trip to this ancient city, I was able to see over 100 species of birds in just three days. This included many migrant and residents. Highlights included the Black Drongo, Common Hoopoe, Blue-faced Malkoha and many species of water birds.
You can also get a unique experience by watching or taking part in the life of the villagers in the area. It was paddy harvesting time (March) and whole families were in the paddy fields helping each other to harvest their crops. Though machines have replaced the bulls and bullock carts, some old traditions still remain. The farmers wife will cook a traditional meal and bring lunch for all the people at work, friends and neighbours also help in the harvesting and this is done on a voluntary basis.
You can also spend a whole day exploring the Mihintale rock and the monastery. There are many ancient caves, remains of old building like hospitals, dinning areas, etc. It would be best to have a guided tour of Mihintale so that you get to know the story behind each and every historical monument.
You can either visit Mihintale as a day trip based from Sigiriya, Dambulla or Habarana. You will need a full day for this and it would be a long one! Best place to stay would be in Anuradhapura where you can visit the ancient city and also visit Mihintale. There are some very good resthouses and hotels in this area.