Ruwanwelisaya is by far the most beautiful of the stupas in Anuradhapura. It shines like a beacon in this ancient kingdom. Built by the great Sinhalese king Dutugemunu in 2nd Century BC, he was unable to see the complete works of his mastery craftsmanship due to aging and illness, so he was shown a replica of the stupa in white cloth which was to resemble the Stupa after construction.

Ruwanwelisaya is a stupa in Sri Lanka, considered a marvel for its architectural qualities and sacred to many Buddhists all over the world. It was built by King Dutugemunu, who became lord of all Sri Lanka after a war in which the Chola King Elara, was defeated. It is also known as Mahathupa, Swarnamali Chaitya, Suvarnamali Mahaceti (in Pali) and Rathnamali Dagaba.

After defeating the Tamil King Elara, King Dutugemunu of Sri Lanka built this magnificant stupa. 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.

The stupa is also one of the Solosmasthana (the 16 places of veneration) and the Atamasthana (the 8 places of veneration in the ancient sacred city of Anuradhapura). The stupa is one of the world’s tallest monuments, standing at 300 feet (91 m) and with a circumference of 950 ft (290 m). The Kaunghmudaw Pagoda in Sagaing, Myanmar is modeled after this stupa.

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