Ruwanweli Maha Seya – රුවන්වැලි මහා සෑය

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Ruwanweli Seya Stupa during the night
Ruwanweli Seya Stupa during the night

Ruwanweli maha Seya was built by the great king Dutugamunu who reigned from 137BC to 119BC from Anuradhapura. Next to Sri Maha Bodhi, Ruwanweli Seya temple is the most venerated Buddhist site in Anuradhapura.

After the defeat of Elara, the South Indian invader and bringing the whole country under one rule by the great warrior king Dutugemunu, building of Ruwanweli Seya has been given the most prominence in most ancient texts in Sri Lanka.

The original stupa has been about 180 feet (55 metres) in height and had been expanded and renovated by many kings thereafter. The stupa is 350 feet (107 metres) in height and 300 feet (92 metres) in diameter today.

According to Mahavamsa, the great chronicle of Sri Lanka,  the preparation for the foundation for the stupa is described as follows;

….The ruler had the site of the stupa dug to the depth of seven cubits (about 17 ½ feet) …….round stones brought by warriors and had them broken by small hammers , then for the sake of firmness of the site he had the crushed stones stamped by elephants with feet covered in leather. He had butter clay laid over the stones and bricks over the clay. …. Rough plaster over it, quarts over that, a network of iron over that, and above that fragrant “marumba”.

The king had crystal spread over that and over the crystal stones. Everywhere in the work was the clay called butter clay with the resin of wood apple mixed with mercury. A bronze plate, eight finger breadths thick was laid over the stones. A silver plate seven finger breadths thick was laid over it with arsenic mixed in the oil of sesame.
Mahavamsa – The Great Chronicle of Sri Lanka

Mahavamsa – The Great Chronicle of Sri Lanka

King Dutugamunu didn’t live to see the completion of this massive stupa. When the king fell ill, he sent his brother to complete the work of the stupa. On King Dutugamunu’s death bed he wanted to see this stupa and his brother covered the whole dome in white cloth and constructed the upper portion of the stupa in bamboo and painter it in imitation gold and carried the king to the stupa to show the “competed” stupa. After the kings death the Saddhatissa finished the remaining work.

Around this stupa you will also see statues made out of granite of King Dutugamunu, Queen Vihara Mahadevi (Mother of king Dutugamunu) and King Bhathika Tissa of 2nd Century.

Photos before restoration from

Also See

Map of Ruwanweliseya Stupa

ගූගල් සිතියම් පහලින් - Please click on the button below to load the Dynamic Google Map -

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 Ruwanweli Maha Seya (Anuradhapura)

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

Route 01 from Colombo to Anuradhapura

Route 02 from Colombo to Anuradhapura

Through : Negombo - Chillaw - Puthlam
distance from colombo :213 km
Travel time : 3 hours
Driving directions : see on google map
Through : Ambepussa - Kurunegala - Dambulla
distance from Colombo : 221 km
Travel time : 3.15 hours
Driving Directions : see on google maps

Route 03 from Colombo to Anuradhapura

Route from Kandy to Anuradhapura

Through : Ambepussa - Kurunegala - Padeniya - Thambuthegama
distance from colombo :213 km
Travel time : 3 hours
Driving directions : see on google map
Through : Katugastota - Matale - Dambulla
distance from Colombo :139 km
Travel time : 2 hours
Driving directions : see on google map

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