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Updated by Joanna James on Jun 23, 2019
Headline for Ancient Stupas in Anuradhapura
Joanna James Joanna James
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Ancient Stupas in Anuradhapura

Located in the North Central Province of Sri Lanka, Anuradhapura is a historical city packed with Buddhist temples and majestic stupas. important stupas located within the ancient capital are;


Thuparamaya Stupa

This is a moderately sized stupa compared to most others around the country and is considered to be the first stupa ever built in Sri Lanka. It was built by the 3rd century King, Devanampiya Tissa and enshrines lord Buddha's Collateral bone. This is said to be a monument built in celebration of the arrival of Buddhism to the country. Remains of the 'vatadage' (a circular fence usually constructed surrounding stupas for protection) could be seen in the area. Situated in the heart of the scared city complex Thuparamaya is within the easy reach of all other historical monuments and tourist hotels in Anuradhapura such as the Ulagalla hotel.


Ruwanwelisaya Stupa

Apart from the Sri Maha Bodhi(the southern branch of the Bodhi tree at Buddha Gaya in India), the Ruwanwelisaya also known as Swarnamali Chaitya or 'Rathnamali Dagaba' is the most prestigious religious monument of Anuradhpura as it is said to have the highest number of scared relics of the lord Buddha enshrined within it. This is considered to be the "Great Stupa" of Anuradhapura and is of tremendous size and distinctive shape technically known as "bubbulakara hadaya". With a height of 103 m and 290 m of circumference this is considered to be one of the tallest monuments of the world and falls in to the sixteen places of veneration (solosmasthana) of Sri Lanka. It was built during 150 BC by King Dutugemunu, one of the greatest kings that ruled the country, who was responsible for freeing the country from Tamil rule.


Mirisaveti Stupa

Mirisivetiya was also built by King Dutugamunu and is relatively smaller in structure. Similar to all others stupas, this also enshrines Buddha's sacred relics. With a land extent of 50 acres, this is another imposing structure with unique Sri Lankan architecture. Legend says that the stupa was built by the king in courtesy of forgetting to offer a chilly curry to the Maha sangha.


Jetavanaramaya Stupa

Built in the 2nd Century AD, this was considered one of the tallest structures in the world seconded only to the Egypt's Pyramids. Measuring 400 feet in height and 576 feet across, this is currently the world's largest brick building. Construction of this structure was initiated by King Mahasen of Anuradhapura and the stupa was completed by his son Maghavanna I. It is regarded that the stupa enshrines a part of a belt that was worn by Lord Buddha.


Abayagiriya stupa

Situated within one of the oldest and most extensive monasteries of the city is Abayaragiriya stupa. Being a part of the sixteen religious units of Anuradhapura, this stupa is another major attraction of the ancient city complex. At a height of 115m and only a few feet shorter than Jethawanaramaya, this is also considered as one of the largest stupas of the world. Built by king Gajabahu it is said to have been constructed on the glorious footprint of the Buddha.