Jethawanaramaya – ජේතවන විහාරය (2)

primary root main first article If you decide to spend some time in the historic city of Anuradhapura, the choice of archaeological sites to visit and enjoy will be plentiful. Most of us wander around the same “Atamasthana” with a little deviation if we are armed with a dependable guide-book or have a guide.

The monumental ruins of palaces and temples and sacred edifices, baths and unidentified stone columns pillars and works of art will engulf you and sometimes overwhelm you and you may return home more confused than happy.

Quieter and less concentrated ruins of a monastic complex, east of the great Ruwanveliseya ,are found in the Jetawanarama monastic complex. Extensive ruins of excavated stone foundations are neatly laid out amongst well-kept lawns, ancient trees and demarcated pathways, almost in picture book perfection, covering an area of some eight acres. The excavations are still in progress and it is almost impossible to see everything and, even if you do, to remember everything. And every time we leave this site I promise myself to come back another day to learn more about the ruins that comprise this complex.

According to history the Jethawana Vihara was built on the premises of the Mahavihara in the Jethawana Park; hence the name Jetavana.

The colossal Jethawana Stupa is attributed to King Mahasena whose ambition was to build a fantastically ambitious monastery deliberately designed to rival the orthodox Maha Vihara.

It is said to be the biggest dagoba ever built; perhaps anywhere in the Buddhist world, the third largest building of its time, and as a brick monument still in existence, is the tallest of its kind in the world.

Jethawana Stupa’s height is given in the Chronicle as 400 feet to the tip of its spire and 370 feet across its base, so that Emerson Tennent (Ceylon 1860) characteristically calculated that the bricks it contained would build a wall a foot thick and 10 feet high covering the 400 miles from London to Edinburgh. Its present height is estimated to be 232 feet.

Amongst its many architectural features , the Jetavanarama vihara complex. includes a chapter house of the Jetawanarama Monastery – the site marked by a group of stone pillars, an alms hall or refectory, image house, part of a Buddhist railing, water reservoirs, and the ruins of about fifteen groups of individual monastic residence units.

The image house of the complex is the largest of its kind in the Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa area. The image house has a vaulted structure and bears evidence that it would have been about 50 feet high.

The stone door jambs rising to 27 feet. were made to match. A colossal Buddha statue estimated to be around 37 feet tall,carved of limestone, is believed to have graced its sanctum.

Fragments of the lotus pedestal show that it was a large statue in keeping with the dimensions of the shrine. There is evidence that this structure was burnt down.

A stone fence found within the complex is called the Buddhist railing and is a Buddhist motif found in ancient Buddhist architecture, the most famous being that at Sanci. Archaeological excavations at this site have been interestingly revealing.

During the more recent archeological excavations were unearthed nine gold plates containing some parts of the Mahayana sutra.

The script of the gold plates are in Sinhala of the ninth century and the language is Sanscrit.

The approximate weight of the gold plates is 73 ozs. The plates measures a 25 ins in length 2.3 ins. In breadth and 0.576 cm. in thickness.

by Kishanie S. Fernando
Daily Mirror,August 23, 2004

other names :  jetawanarama, jetawanaramaya, jethawana stupa, jethawanarama, jethawanaramaya, jethawanaramaya dagaba

Also See

Driving Directions to Anuradhapura

See Primary post on the subject here !

primary root main first article

Jetavanaramaya  Map

See Primary post on the subject here !

primary root main first article


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