Dutugemunu Pillar at Ruwanweli Seya (දුටුගැමුණු ශිලා ස්ථම්භය)

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Walking around the majestic Ruwanweli Seya Stupa you will see four entrances from 4 directions. However only the Northern and Eastern entrances are open. A specially built bridge is found on the Northern Gate to the stupa and by this entrance, you will find a gigantic stone pillar erected under the shade of the trees.

Many do not pay special attention to this pillar which is generally called “Dutugenumu Pillar” but the story behind this pillar is interesting as the construction of the Ruwanweli Seya itself.

This pillar was installed by King Devanampiyatissa (250-210 BCE) on the advice of Mihindu Maha Thero. When King Devanampiyatissa offered Mahamegha Park to the priesthood, Minidu Thero walked around marking the places where different facilities should be built describing the importance of each location.

He came to one location and informed the king “Thus was this place, O king, visited by four Buddhas ; on
this spot, O great king, will the thupa stand hereafter, with the relic-chamber for a dona of the relics of the Buddha’s body; (it will be) a hundred and twenty cubits high and (will be) known by the name Hemamali
” (Mahavamsa, ch. XV 166-167)

Hearing this, King Devanampiyatissa said that he would build it. However, Mahinda Thero said that he the king had many other tasks to fulfill and he needed to carry them out. However, it will be built by a descendant of his. The Thero stated “A son of one of the king’s brothers vice-regent Mahanaga, Yatalalakatissa will have a son named Gaotabhaya and his son will be king Kakavanatissa (Kavanthissa) and this king’s son will be a great king named Abhaya renowned under title Duttagamini. He in glory, wondrous power and prowess, will build the stupa here.” (Mahavamsa, ch. XV 169-1172)

Hearing the words of Mahinda Thero, King Kavanthissa set up a pillar at the site inscribing the words of Maha Thero (Mahavamsa, ch. XV 173).

Sixty years later the great king Dutugemunu was consecrated (161 BCE) after defeating Elara, and he saw this great pillar with Great Mahinda Thero’s statement engraved on it and decided to to build the great stupa now known as Ruwanweli Maha Seya on the site which Mahinda Thero had marked.

The king removed the pillar and placed it by the stupa where it stands today. Unfortunately, the pillar has weathered so much that its inscription has been destroyed.


  1. Geiger, W. and Bode, M.H. (1912) The Mahavamsa or The Great Chronicle of Ceylon. London: For the Pali Text Society by Henry Frowde.

Also See

Map of Dutugemunu Pillar at Ruwanweli Seya

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

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

Zoom out the map to see more surrounding locations using the mouse scroll wheel or map controls.

Driving Directions to Anuradhapura

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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