Lanka /ˈləŋkɑː/ is the name given in Hindu mythology to the island fortress capital of the legendary demon king Ravana in the epics of the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. The fortress was situated on a plateau between three mountain peaks known as the Trikuta Mountains. The ancient city of Lankapura is thought to have been burnt down by Hanuman. After its king, Ravana, was killed by Rama with the help of his brother Vibhishana, the latter was crowned king of Lankapura. The mythological site of Lankā is identified with Sri Lanka. His descendants were said to still rule the kingdom during the period of the Pandavas. According to the Mahabharata, the Pandava Sahadeva visited this kingdom during his southern military campaign for the rajasuya of Yudhishthira.

Rulers of Lanka

According to both the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, Lanka was originally ruled by a rakshasa named Sumali according to the Ramayana. According to Uttara Kanda, Lanka was originally built by the divine architect Vishwakarma for the gods, but was seized by the brothers, Malyavan, Sumali and Mali. The brothers ruled for years and invaded the heavens. After suffering a humiliating and disastrous defeat at the hands of Lord Vishnu, the brothers were too ashamed to return to Lanka. Kubera seized control of Lanka and established the Yaksha Kingdom and his capital was guarded by rakshasas. His half-brother Ravana, son of the sage Vishravaya and Sumali's daughter, fought with Kubera and took Lanka from him. Ravana ruled Lanka as king of the Rakshasa Kingdom. The battle in Lanka is depicted in a famous relief in the 12th-century Khmer temple of Angkor Wat.

After Ravana's death, he was succeeded by his brother, Vibhishana.

Lanka, Sri Lanka, and possible locations

The Lanka referred to in the still-extant Hindu Texts and the Ramayana (referred to as Ravana's Lanka), is considered to be a large island-country, situated in the Indian Ocean. The Ramayana, as also several other surviving Hindu texts, clearly state that Ravana's Lanka was situated 100 Yojanas (roughly 1,300 km or 800 miles) away from mainland India. Some scholars have interpreted the content of these texts to determine that Lanka was located at the point where the Prime-Meridian of India passes the Equator.[2][3] This island would therefore lie more than a hundred miles South-west of present-day country of Sri Lanka. The most original of all the existing versions of Valmiki's Ramayana also suggest the location of Ravana's Lanka to be in the western Indian Ocean. In fact it indicates that Lanka was in the midst of a series of large island-nations, submerged mountains, and sunken plateaus in the western part of the Indian Ocean.[4]

There has been a lot of speculation by several scholars, that Ravana's Lanka might have been in the Indian Ocean around where the Maldives once stood as a high mountain, before getting submerged in the Indian Ocean.[5][6][7]


Ravana's Lanka, and its capital Lankapuri, are described in a manner that seems superhuman even by modern-day standards. Ravana's central palace-complex (main citadel) was a massive collection of several edifices that reached over one yojana (8 miles or 12.88 kilometres) in height, one yojana in length, and half a yojana in breadth. The island had a large mountain range known as the Trikuta Mountain, atop which was situated Ravana's capital of Lanka, at the center of which in turn stood his citadel. [8][9][10]