After defeating the Tamil king Elara, King Dutugemunu of Sri Lanka built this magnificant stupa. The stupa is known as Ruwanwelisaya, Mahathupa, Swarnamali Chaitya and Rathnamali Dagaba. The compound is supported by stone elephants, and the surrounding wall is decorated with 1,900 figures of elephants – 475 on each side. Successive kings added to the palace over the years.
Ruwanwelisaya also known as the Mahathupa (Great Stupa), is one of the three great Stupas of Anuradhapura standing tall like the three great pyramids of Giza. A collossal-scale stupa, it was built almost hundred years after the Mahavihara's earliest sites; Thuparama and Shir Maha Bodhi tree.