jetawanarama dagoba

The Mystery Behind Sri Lanka’s Stupa

Dagoba or stupa is an essential part of every Buddhist temple in the world and they had been built since the advent of Buddhism in the island in 2nd century BC. In this article, we are mainly discussing these stupendous constructions.

Pyramids are some of the most popular ancient constructions in the world. The biggest pyramid in Giza (Pyramid of Khufu) is the most ancient of all seven historical world wonders too. These historical attractions are well known around the world and attract tourist from every corner of the world. According to Egyptologists they were built as tombs for Egyptian dynasty known as Pharaoh. Probably there is no one in the world, who have not heard the word “pyramid” at least once in the lifetime.

So much is known about pyramids but, aren’t there any another historical construction that comparable to pyramids. You may think No! There had been other advanced civilizations during the time of Pharaoh in many other places in the world. Those other civilizations had been also managed to build gigantic constructions such as Pyramids. But, most of those ingenious works are not known or least known to place for most people in the world. For instance Dagobas in Sri Lanka. They are built on a very similar purpose of pyramids but with a religious background.

The kings and queens of ancient Sri Lanka had a great devotion to the religion and it made them spend a large number of resources to built gigantic Dagobas. These constructions were done with superior quality; therefore most of the dagobas are still in very good shape, even after thousands of years. Archaeologists believe that these ancient constructions are far better than some of the modern constructions and they would survive for many thousands of years in the future.

Today Dagobas are the most impressive attractions in many archaeological sites in the country.  These dome-shaped constructions are known as dagobas in the island. But some other nations call them Stupa, Tupa or Pagoda. Dagobas has a similar function to Pyramids; they are constructed to deposit reliquary. Dagobas are always built on the elevated rounded platform. The devotees can access Dagoba from all four directions.

Usually, the ancient Dagobas were built with a relic chamber in the body of the construction. The Dagobas were built to deposit the relic of Buddha or relic of some other important Buddhist monk. The inner-wall of relic chambers had been beautifully decorated with religious paintings. Valuable materials such as gold, silver, gems stones had been used for the decoration purposes of the relic chamber. The state ruler and selected other important people were allowed to enter the relic chamber. Archaeologists have been able to discover materials such as inscription, statues, and murals, even silk clothes have appeared during the excavations in ancient Dagobas.

Ancient engineers were careful to build these domes on very solid foundations, making them available for many thousand years. Some of the dagobas were built in the third century BC and they are still been venerated. The biggest dagoba of ancient Sri Lanka is known as Jetawanarama and it was built by King Mahasen (276-305). It had been the biggest dagoba of the ancient Buddhist world. Jetawnarama Dagoba was 400 feet in height and it was as big as the second pyramid in Giza.

During the excavations at Jetawanarama, archaeologists have discovered the foundation of the dagoba, which is 27 feet thick. Abhayagiri Dagoba also located within Anuradhapura world heritage site is also a huge dagoba built during the Anuradhapura kingdom.  Ruwanweliseya was another most important dagoba and one of the biggest in the island was built in the second century BC by King Dutugemunu.


Sanjeewa Padmal (Seerendipity)

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