A 4 hour drive North West of Colombo will take you to the Cultural Triangle of Sri Lanka, in particular Anuradhapura, which houses the oldest stupa in Sri Lanka, the Ruwanweliseya. The 2 millennia architectural wonder is considered to be one of the major Buddhist monuments, revered world over by Buddhist devotees due to a number of Lord Buddha’s Relics being enshrined in this religious complex.

Best Known For

  • The stupa is best known for being of major religious significance to Buddhists all around the world, frequently receiving visits from pilgrims, as it is one of the 16 places that were visited by Lord Buddha and holds relics of the Lord himself.
  • It is considered an architectural icon around the world due to its massive height (338 feet) and circumference (950 feet), making it one of the largest ancient manmade structures in the world.
  • The complex of the Ruwanweliseya serves as an ideal spot for relaxation too due to its rustic backdrop and pin drop silence. Why not take the time to meditate and listen to the sounds of nature call to you?

Interesting Facts

  • The Ruwanweliseya possesses a history spanning two millennia, where King Dutugemunu commissioned the construction in the 1st century BC to commemorate the unification of the island of Sri Lanka for the first time after driving out the Chola invaders out of the country.
  • It is one of the Solosmasthana (the 16 places of veneration) and the Atamasthana (the 8 places of veneration) in the ancient sacred city of Anuradhapura, making it hallowed ground for Buddhist pilgrims arriving at the complex from all over the world.
  • The architecture of the stupa is a reflection of the Buddha’s teachings, making it an artistic representation of Buddhist values.
  • Its dome signifies the vastness of the doctrine, the four facets above it represent the Four Noble Truths, the concentric rings indicate the Noble Eightfold Middle Path, and the large crystal at the pinnacle represents the ultimate Buddhist goal of enlightenment.
  • At the time of completion in 140 BC, Ruwanweliseya was believed to be the fifth largest monument in the world.

Times, Seasons and Tips

  • The season to visit the stupa is during the months of March and September, when the weather is ideal for exploring the town of Anuradhapura.
  • The best time to visit Ruwanweliseya is during the late afternoon since the grandeur of the stupa really does come alive with many rituals taking place.
  • It is important to note that this complex is a religious complex, thus making it imperative to be dressed appropriately when exploring the area (cover arms and legs).
  • There is no entrance fee and it is not that difficult to explore, but it does not hurt to have a few essentials at the ready, such as snacks and ample water.
  • Please adhere to the rules and regulations set forth by the authorities, as it is a sacred place of worship.

In conclusion, the Ruwanweliseya serves as a mandatory monument not to be missed by the traveler yearning to learn the unique culture of Sri Lanka and its deep intertwinement with the religion of Buddhism.

Title image by: Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau

Location info



Culture and Heritage

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