Originally inhabited by the aboriginals commonly knowns as Yukkas. A monastery is believed have been built here first but subsequently known to have been used by a order of recluse monks who practised a austere life style. No mention of this order of monks have been found since 12th century at Ritigala or else where and probably the monastery also have been abandoned since then. Ritigala was rediscovered by the then government surveyor James Mantell in 1872. Ritigala had been used as a base for battle by Pandukabhaya the founder of Anuradhapua city.
Ritigala 600m above the surrounding plains is the highest peak in the northern plains. It is experiencing a very high rain fall in the north east monsoon compared with the rest of the northern dry zone and cooler climate has resulted in a great many number of wet zone plants. It is therefore considered a Ritigala may also have housed a hospital.