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Anuradhapura Jethwanaramaya

Anuradhapura Jethwanaramaya

Jethavanaramaya was built by King Mahasena (276-303 AD) in 3rd century; it was completed by his son Sirimeghavanna. In the respect to the great king Mahasena no any other king tried to beat its height.  It is believed that this monument was built upon the enclosure where Mahinda Maha Thero was cremated. Recent excavation in the stupa has unearthed a one meter thick brick wall adjacent to a layer of ash and charcoal. This is believed to be the chamber where the remains of the great thero rest.  Jethavana Stupa is the largest stupa in the Sri Lanka. The structure is significant in the island's history for it represents the tensions within the Theravada and Mahayana sects of Buddhist monks, it is also significant in world history as one of the tallest structures in the ancient world The height of the stupa is 400 feet (122 m)and was the tallest ancient stupa in the world, the structure is no longer the tallest however it is the largest with a volume of 233,000 m2 (2,508,000 sq ft). At the time of its completion the structure was the third tallest structure in the world behind the Great Pyramids of Giza. The compound covers approximately 5.6 hectares and is estimated to have housed 10,000 Buddhist monks. One side of the stupa is 576 ft (176 m) long, and the flights of stairs at each of the four sides of it are 28 ft (9 m) wide. The doorpost to the shrine, which is situated in the courtyard, is 27 ft (8 m) high. The stupa has an 8.5 m (28 ft) deep foundation, and sits on bedrock. Stone inscriptions in the courtyard give the names of people who donated to the building effort.  Approximately 93.3 million baked bricks were used in its construction; the engineering ingenuity behind the construction of the structure is a significant development in the history of the island. Famous archeologist Emerson Tenant said it can made 3m high wall London to Edinburg.  The sectarian differences between the Buddhist monks also are represented by the stupa as it was built on the premises of the destroyed Maha Vihara, which led to a rebellion by a minister of king Mahasena. King Mahasen has donated the temple to Sagalika sect. It was house for more than 3000 monks.

There were 4 entrances to the dagaba. Unfortunately they have been partially collapsed. There are beautiful stone carvings in these entrances. The dagaba is being reconstructed under the Cultural Triangle Project.

Inside ‘Budu Ge’ (worship house for Lord Buddha) there are 3 statues of Lord Buddha and few statues of kings. The first statue among them is the statue of king Mahasen who build the temple.  Today this stupa is going through a painful and slow conservation to bring it to its ancient glory. Even today you can see massive trees which have come up on the stupa itself on the sides where reconstruction has not started. As all other buildings in Anuradhapura this too was subjected to destruction by North Indian Invaders. Then when the Anuradhapura was finally abandoned as the capital in the 11th century this stupa with others were covered by the jungle. King Parakramabahu (12th century) in the Polonnaruwa era again tried to renovate this stupa and it was rebuilt to the current height, a reduction from the original height. Today it stands at 232 feet (71 metres).  

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