Dakkhina Stupa : Dakshina Stupa (දක්ෂිණ ස්තුපය)

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This is a large brick mound structure, probably an unfinished stupa lying close to Sri Maha Bodhi. Until recently this site was mistakenly called Elara Sohana or the Tomb of Elara, the tomb built in memory of the Elala, the Tamil invader from India who ruled the capital Anuradhapura for 44 years before being defeated by king Dutugemunu (161-137 BC). This location was identified as the Dakkhina Stupa by Professor Paranavitana in 1946. Therefore most older reports and books refer to this edifice as the Elara Sohona or Tomb of Ela.

This Dagaba ranks fourth in size of the six large dagabas of Anuradhapura; Abhayagri (approximate circumference 1,100 ft.) Jetawanarama (1,065 ft.); Ruwanveli (982 ft); Dakshina (564 ft.); Mirisavatiya (526 ft.) and Kiribath Vihara (425 ft.) (Rutnam, 1981).

Clearing of the jungles and debris around the structure was started in 1896 as per the Archaeology commissioners’ report in 1897 which notes that the vertical height of the edifice is 60 feet. The 1898 report states that its three concentric ambulatories (pesawalalu) and the garbha (bell-shaped superstructure) truncated and much broken, have been approximately traced. Based on what’s been exposed, the perimeter of the base of the Dagaba is about 564 feet, whilst the circumference of the bottom of the garbha above the ambulatories is some 100 feet less. The 1899 reports further excavations and the discovery of several limestone relic caskets (karandu) which all were empty. The 1900 reports pausing this work as proving the cost to be too excessive (Rutnam, 1981).

Based on the chronicles Professor also believed that this was the place where the remains of the hero king Dutugemunu were cremated. According to him initially, this was a small stupa that contained the remains of the king and was enlarged at a later date. This Dakkhina Thupa was known as the Tissa-Maha-Cetiya according to the slab inscription discovered by Paranavitana. The explanation why it was called the Tomb of Elara is given by Hubert Weerasooriya ;

When Anuradhapura was being excavated, all the Indian conservancy coolies and other Tamil laborers settled down in this part of the city, and owing to a lack of better facilities began to use this jungle-covered mound for purposes far from religious. ‘To stop this sacrilege, an intelligent Buddhist spread the rumor that it was the very tomb of their renowned king Elara that they were desecrating. This news soon got around and the dirty practice quickly came to an end. But though it attained its purpose the misnomer remained! (Weerasooriya, 1939).

However, it seems that this edifice was known as the Elara Sohona in 1818 as per Pilimathalawa fleeing from the Kandyan kingdom as documented by Forbes in his Eleven Years in Ceylon published in 1840.

Paranavithana also discovered a long slab inscription on a number of broken slabs in Brahmi Characters during his excavations in 1947-1948. This is the longest of its kind in Sri Lanka. The reading of this inscription was published in 1971. The inscription relates to various donations given for the maintenance of the ” Tissa-maha-cetiya of the Dakkhina Vihara which had been inviolably established by the great king Pita (Vattagamani Abhaya), son of His Majesty”. Paranavitana had observed that ”the name Dakkhina Vihara occurs in more than a dozen places in the legible part of the document This Dagaba ranks as fourth in size of the six large dagabas of Anuradhapura; Abhayagri (approximate circumference 1,I00 ft.;) Jetawanarama (1,065 ft.); Ruwanveli (982 ft); Dakshina (564 ft.); Mirisavatiya (526 ft.) and Kiribath Vihara (425 ft.) (Rutnam, 1981) (Rutnam, 1981).


  1. Rutnam, J., 1981. Tomb of Elara at Anuradhapura. Jaffna, Sri Lanka: Jaffna Archaeological Society.
  2. Devendra, D.T., 1952. Guide to Anuradhapura. 2nd ed. Colombo: [Govt. Press], pp.45-47.
  3. Weerasooriya H.E., 1939. Historical guide to Anuradhapura’s ruins. Colombo: W.E. Bastian, pp 70-71.
  4. Harischandra B.W., 1908. The Sacred City of Anuradhapura. With Forty-six Illustrations. 1st ed. Colombo: Brahmachari Walisingha Harischandra, pp.119-120.
  5. Seneviratna, A., 1994. Ancient Anuradhapura. 1st ed. Colombo: Archaeological Survey Department, Sri Lanka, pp 195-198
  6. Wikramagamage, C., 2004. Heritage of Rajarata: Major natural, cultural, and historic sites. Colombo. Central Bank of Sri Lanka. p.140.

Also See

Map of Dakkhina Stupa

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The map above also shows other places of interest within a approximately 20 km radius of the current site. Click on any of the markers and the info box to take you to information of these sites

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Driving Directions to Anuradhapura (Dakkhina Stupa)

Anuradhapura can be reached through many routes from Colombo. The two main routes are through Puttalam (Puttalama) and through Kurunegala. Travelling from Puttalam, you will pass the scenic Wilpattu area. From Kurunegala, there are two main routes to Anuradhapura. The most common route is through Dambulla. The other route is through Galgamuwa. Out of all the routes, the most commonly used is the Kurunegala-Dambulla route (Route 2).

Route 01 from Colombo to AnuradhapuraRoute 02 from Colombo to Anuradhapura
Through : Negombo – Chilaw – Puttalam
Distance from Colombo : 210 km
Travel time : 4.30- 5.00 hours
Driving Directions : see on Google map
Through : Katunayake Expressway – Central Expressway – Kurunegala – Dambulla
Distance from Colombo : 223 km
Travel Time : 4.30- 5.00 hours
Driving Directions : see on Google maps
Route 03 from Colombo to AnuradhapuraRoute from Kandy to Anuradhapura
Through : Katunayake Expressway – Narammala – Wariyapola – Padeniya – Thambuthegama
Distance from Colombo :203 km
Travel Time : 4.30- 5.00 hours
Driving Directions : see on Google map
Through : Katugastota – Matale – Dambulla
Distance from Colombo :136 km
Travel Time : 3.5 hours
Driving Directions : see on Google map

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