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The Jetavanaramaya stupa was built after the destruction of Maha Vihara which clearly demonstrates the clashes between Mahayana Buddhism and Theravada Buddhism concepts in Sri Lanka. King Mahasena is remembered in history as a rebellious one for his elimination of Mahavihara and Mahayana concepts and also forcing penalties on anyone who offered alms to the monks in Mahaviharas.  It is on those very premises of Mahavihara, that the current Jetvanaramaya was built.

The foundation of the building was made strong and solid, with a depth of 8.5 meters and consisted of bricks that could hold weight up to 166 kg. The engineering used in the construction of the stupa is a wonder till date, as proper conservation methods were used to protect the structure from natural disasters and ageing. Historical scripts reveal that it took 15 years to complete the building with immense work skills, craftsmanship and materials of fine quality. 

One can witness detailed stone carvings in the stupa premises and these resemble the skills of the workers at that time. The structure was hidden in the shrubs till 1909 until the approval was given by the Atamasthana committee to clear the stupa and the court. Excavations conducted at this location also revealed precious artefacts that relate to the rich cultural heritage and trade of the ancient Sri Lanka.


  • Tallest historic buildings after pyramids
  • Sacred Buddhist icon