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Built by King Dutugemenu in 140 BC, and guarded by a wall with 344 elephant statues standing strong, Ruwanveliseya is a significant Buddhist attraction in Sri Lanka. It is believed that a drona (two quarters) of Gautama Buddha’s relics are enshrined within the stupa. The stupa is also known as “Swarnamali Chaitya”, “Rathnamali Dagaba” or “Mahathupa”. It is considered to be one of the world’s largest monuments.
The sacred Ruwanveliseya is among the 16 most sacred places of the Island, and the 8 most sacred places in Anuradhapura. The massive stupa stands at 103 meters with a circumference of 290 meters.
The construction of the stupa was commissioned by Sri Lanka’s greatest ruler, King Dutugemunu. However he didn’t live to see the completion of the stupa. It is said that King Dutugemunu exhaled his last breath on a deathbed within the premises looking at the falsely completed stupa which was covered with white clothes. Beside the main entrance there are two statues of King Dutugemunu and his mother Viharamahadevi paying their respect to the Stupa.
It was believed that the relics enshrined within the stupa was brought and safely offered to the Sangha by a novice Arhath named Soṇuttara. With his six supernormal faculties Arhat Soṇuttara appeared in the realms of Naga-Loka and obtained the relics a day prior to the enshiring ceremony. Many Arhats from various places and deities were presented at the grand ceremony where the relics rose into the air, formed Buddha and performed the twin miracles of air and water.
Being one of the most sacred places please note that you will have to wear appropriately and preferably in white, also you will have to walk barefooted but socks are allowed. Mornings or evenings are the best to visit Ruwanveliseya as the granite pavilion gets heated.