This tallest and arguably the most beautiful Anuradhapura stupa, Ruwanwelisaya is revered by Buddhists the world over and regarded as an architectural wonder by believers and non-believers alike.
Built in 140 BC by Gamini Abhaya, who ruled Sri Lanka after defeating Chola King Elara in battle, this most iconic of stupas in the history of Anuradhapura was built to exacting standards and attention to detail.
According to a contemporary report, ‘fine clay was brought from the Himalayas, bricks laid over the clay, rough plaster over the bricks, quartz over the plaster, a network of iron over the quartz, fragrant clay over the network of iron, white stones over the fragrant clay, rock-crystal over the white stones, and slabs of stones over the rock-crystal.
‘Then he had mercury, resin of the wood-apple, and fine clay mixed together; had these spread over the slabs of stones; and had bronze sheets eight inches thick laid over these.
‘He then had eight large water pots of gold and eight of silver placed in the midst of the Great Stupa, and had a hundred and eight vases placed around the large water pots.
‘He had, likewise, eight bricks of gold placed in eight corners and a hundred and eight bricks of silver around each of the bricks of gold.’