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THE MAHATHUPA - RUWANWELI DAGABA


The Ruwanwelisaya is a stupa in Sri Lanka, considered a marvel for its architectural qualities and sacred to many Buddhists all over the world. It was built by King Dutugemunu, who became lord of all Sri Lanka after a war in which the Chola King Elara, was defeated. It is also known as Mahathupa, Swarnamali Chaitya, Suvarnamali Mahaceti (in Pali) and Rathnamali Dagaba.

The stupa is also one of the Solosmasthana (the 16 places of veneration) and the Atamasthana (the 8 places of veneration in the ancient sacred city of Anuradhapura). The stupa is one of the world's tallest monuments, standing at 300 feet (91 m) and with a circumference of 950 ft (290 m)


 
 

THE THUPARAMA DAGABA


Thuparamaya dagaba has been built in the shape of a bell. This dagaba was destroyed from time to time. During the reign of King Agbo II it was completely destroyed and the King restored it. What is seen presently is the construction of the dagaba, done in 1862 AD. As of today, after several renovations, in the course of the centuries, the monument has a diameter of 59 ft (18 m), at the base. The dome is 11 feet 4 inches (3.45 m) in height from the ground, 164½ ft (50.1 m) in diameter. The compound is paved with granite and there are 2 rows of stone pillars round the dagaba. During the early period vatadage was built round the dagaba.

Mahinda Thera, an envoy sent by King Ashoka himself introduced Theravada Buddhism and also chetiya worship to Sri Lanka. At his request King Devanampiyatissa built Thuparamaya in which was enshrined the collarbone of the Buddha. It is considered to be the first dagaba built in Sri Lanka following the introduction of Buddhism. This is considered the earliest monument, the construction of which was chronicled Sri Lanka. The name Thuparamaya comes from "stupa" and "aramaya" which is a residential complex for monks.


 
 

THE JETAWANA DAGABA


The Jetawana stupa looming impressively from the plain is the highest brick-built dagoba in the world. The paved platform on which it stands covers more than 8 acres (3 hectares) of land & has a diameter of over 100m. In its original form the dagoba stood 120m high, & was the third-tallest structure in the world, surpassed only by the two great pyramids Khufru & Khafra at Gizeh, Egypt. It was also the world's biggest stupa & is still the tallest & largest structure made entirely of brick anywhere on earth. It took 27 years to build & contains over ninety million bricks.

In 1860 Emerson Tennent, in his book Ceylon, calculated that it had enough bricks to build a 3-m high brick wall 25 cm thick from London to Edinburgh, equal to the distance from the southernmost tip of Sri Lanka at Dondra head to northernmost point in Sri Lanka at Point Pedro & again back down to the coast at Trincomalee. Although it had stood over 120m high in its days of glory, today it is about 70m, similar height to the Abayagiri Stupa.


 
 

THE ABHAYAGIRI MONASTERY & DAGABA


Abhayagiri monastery is one of the most interesting & atmospheric quarters of Anuradhapura. The sheer scale of the ruins of the monastery is prodigious; the setting, scattered amidst beautiful light woodland, is magical; a lost city particularly memorable at the crack of dawn or at dusk.

The third of Anuradhapura's great monasteries, Abhayagiri lie on the northern side of the city. The great monastery was founded by King Vatttagamani Abhaya (Valagambahu) (104-76 BC) in 88 BC. King Valagambahu had lost his throne to an army of marauding Dravidian invaders from South India. Whilst escaping from the city, the king was taunted by a Jain priest of the Giri Monastery, who shouted: "The great black Sinhala lion is fleeing". An Indian Jain monk having a Jain hermitage in then capital of Buddhist Lanka itself, is an outstanding indication of the religious tolerance of ancient Lanka. In spite of the religious tolerance in the island, the contempt of the Jain monk towards the Sinhalese & the Sinhalese king brought nothing but the downfall of Jain monastery. The king even while fleeing, vowed to regain his kingdom & built a Buddhist monastery over the Jain hermitage. Fourteen years later, the lion-hearted king rescued his island from the marauding Dravidian invaders, razed the Jain hermitage to the ground & established a Buddhist monastery.

King Vatttagamani Abhaya named the new Buddhist monastery with a combination of the second part of his own name (meaning fearless-as in the Abhaya, or "Have No Fear" as in Buddhist mudra of the Buddhist statues) & name of the demolished Jain monastery itself "Giri". Although the king had the building of the Jain monastery wiped off the earth, he resolved to immortalize the name of Jain monastery in a Buddhist monastery. Even in the destruction, the Sinhalese seemed to have a tolerant aspect in their nature.


 
 

THE MIRISAWETI DAGABA


More than 2100 years old, Mirisawetiya is one of the most ancient Dagabas in Sri Lanka . Built by the great king Dutugemunu, this Maginficant Structure is a must see for any visitor to the sacred city of Anuradhapura . It is believed that the great king Dutugemunu made many wishes here that have come true during his lifetime. King Dutugemunu built it as a Dagoba of the "Mahavihara" fraternity but as the monks started living there, it sees that Mirisawetiya developed as a separate monastery. However it is believed that it would have functioned as a monastery belonging to the Mahavihara Fraternity.

Several Kings, at different intervals made renovations to the Dagaba. Among them are King Gajabahu 1 (112-134 AC), and King Voharika Tissa (214-236 AC). King Gajabahu 1: Put a new coating on Mirisawet iya King Voharika Tissa: Restored the umbrella of the Dagoba and rebuilt a wall around the Dagaba)

The stupa and other buildings needed restoration after the Chola invasion and it is said that King Kassapa V (914-923 AC) did the restoration. King Kassapa V also is said to have built a massive mansion called "The Chandana Prasada", adjoining the Temple to house the scared hair relic (keshadathu), which was supposed to have been brought to Sri Lanka during the time of King Moggalana (495-513 AC) The Dagaba was again damaged by the recurrent Chola invasions and it is said that King Parakaramabahu 1(1153-1186 AC) did a comprehensive restoration and built the stupa to a height of 120 feet. The last recorded renovations around that period were done by King Nissankamalla (1187-1196 AC).


 
 

LANKARAMA TEMPLE


Lankarama is a stupa built by King Valagamba, in an ancient place at Galhebakada in the ancient kingdom of Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka. Nothing is known about the ancient form of the stupa, and later this was renovated. The ruins show that there are rows of stone pillars and it is no doubt that there has been a house built encircling the stupa (vatadage) to cover it. The round courtyard of the stupa seems to be 10 feet (3 m) above the ground. The diameter of the stupa is 45 feet (14 m). The courtyard is circular in shape and the diameter is 1332 feet (406 m).


ETH POKUNA


Eth pokuna (Elephant pond) is an ancient man made pond situated close to Lankaramaya. It is 159 meters in length 52.7 meters across and 9.5 meters in depth with the holding capacity of 75,000 cubic meters of water.

The water to this pond has been supplied from the Periyamkulama Tank through a network of underground canals. These underground canals still work after so many hundreds years. This tank probably has been used by the monks in the Abhayagiri Buddhist Monastery who amounted over five thousand priests.


 
 

BOGODA RAJAMAHA VIHARA


Bogoda Raja Maha Viharaya is most famous for its Wooden Bridge of the Kandyan Era. This bridge is built over the Gallanda Oya river which is a tributory of Mahaweli River and is only surviving bridge of such nature of this Era. The bridge initially made out wood without a single nail was in a very depleted state few years ago. This has been now renovated by Department of Archaeology. This bridge is thought to be lying on one of the ancient pilgrims paths from Kandy Kindom to the Uva province where there is a large number of important Buddhist shrines such as Muthiyanganaya. Another unique feature of the bridge is that this bridge comes with a roof clad in flat tiles of the Kandyan Period. The reason for this is unknown but it is thought that the bridge would have been serving as Ambalama in additon to the main function.

Just at the bridge is a ancient cave temple with the image house built using a natural rock cave. This date back to the time of King Vattagamini Abaya (better known as King Walagamba) in the 1st century BC but the current building belong to the Kandyan Era. On the far side of the building is a flight of steps which leads to a large rock cave. King Walagamba is thought to have been using this cave during time he was hiding from an Indian Invasion in Capital Anuradhapura. On a side of the cave is a damp tunnel. This is said to be a secret tunnel buit by the king to as a escape route. This tunnel is said to be connecting to the tunnel at Dowa Raja Maha Viharaya which lies on the main Badulla - Bandarawela Road. and the Rawana Raja maha Viharaya close to the Ravana Ella . The tunnel is caved in today and is taken over by Bats.


 
 

SIVA DEVALA - SIVA SHRINES


SIVA SHRINE 1


A Hindu Temple of chaste and restrained line dedicated to God Siva. This temple dates to the later Polonnaruwa period, and was probably built during a period of Indian domination in the thirteenth century. A number of superb bronzes in mature Choler style were found at this temple, and these can be seen at the Colombo Museum.

SIVA SHRINE 2


Past the north gate of the citadel lies the exquisite Hindu temple built entirely of stone. The building dates to the 10th Century AD, and is the oldest identifiable building in Polonnaruwa. The building is in an early and perfectly simple Choler style, and is one of the masterpieces of Indian art to be found at Polonnaruwa.


 
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