Sri Lanka Tours & Travel Information

Jethawanaramaya Dagoba

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Contact The Jetavanaramaya Dagoba in Anuradhapura
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jetavanaramaya

Description

The Jetavanaramaya Dagoba in Anuradhapura

The Jetavanaramaya is a stupa located in the ruins of Jetavana in the sacred world heritage city of Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka. Mahasena of Anuradhapura (273–301) initiated the construction of the stupa following the destruction of the mahavihara. His son Maghavanna I completed the construction of the stupa. A part of a sash or belt tied by the Buddha is believed to be the relic that is enshrined here.

The structure is significant in the island's history for it represents the tensions within the Theravada and Mahayana sects of Buddhism; it is also significant in recorded history as one of the tallest structures in the ancient world; the height of the stupa is 400 feet (122 m), making it the tallest stupa in the ancient world. The structure is no longer the tallest, but it is still the largest, with a base-area of 233,000 m2 (2,508,000 sq ft). Approximately 93.3 million baked bricks were used in its construction; the engineering ingenuity behind the construction of the structure is a significant development in the history of the island. The sectarian differences between the Buddhist monks also are represented by the stupa as it was built on the premises of the destroyed mahavihara, which led to a rebellion by a minister of King Mahasena.

This stupa belongs to the Sagalika sect. The compound covers approximately 5.6 hectares and is estimated to have housed 10,000 Buddhist monks. One side of the stupa is 576 ft (176 m) long, and the flights of stairs at each of the four sides of it are 28 ft (9 m) wide. The doorpost to the shrine, which is situated in the courtyard, is 27 ft (8 m) high. The stupa has a 8.5 m (28 ft) deep foundation, and sits on bedrock. Stone inscriptions in the courtyard give the names of people who donated to the building effort.

 

As the largest ancient stupa constructed and one of the tallest ancient structures in the world, the structural ingenuity and engineering skills employed for the construction are significant. The foundations of the structure were 8.5m deep and the size of the structure required bricks which could withstand loads of up to 166 kg. The solid foundation lay on bed-rock and the dome was constructed of full and half bricks and earth fill, the unique shape of a perfect ellipsoid allowed for stress and thus allowed the construction of the large structure. The Mahavamsa describes the foundation laying, where fissures were filled with stones and stamped down by elephants whose feet were protected with leather bindings. The bricks used for the construction were a significant development of ancient Sri Lankan engineering, the bricks used for Jetavanaramaya had a composition of 60 percent fine sand and 35 percent clay, the bricks could withstand 281 kg/in2. Linear elastic finite element analysis under self weight produced a maximum compressive stress of 839 kPa at the bottom centre, thus the maximum stress in the dome is ten times less than what the bricks could withstand.

Finely crushed dolomite lime stone, sieved sand and clay provided the bonding material for the bricks. The clay employed was pliable and thus accommodates movement within the structure. One of the sides of the brick was roughened to trap the bonding slurry thus limiting lateral movement. The stupa was then covered with lime plaster; the plaster used contained seashells, sugar syrup, egg whites, coconut water, glues, oils, plant resin, sand, clay and pebbles. The plaster also provided waterproofing for the structure. The Mahavamsa also mentions the use of copper sheets over the foundation and arsenic dissolved in sesame oil to prevent insect and plant intrusions inside the stupa. It is estimated that Jetavanaramaya took 15 years to complete and would have required a skillful workforce of hundreds, including brickyard workers and bricklayers, and stonemasons.

 

Until 1909 the colossal structure was covered with shrub jungle. Monk Kumbuke Dhammarama of Sailabimbaramaya temple of Gammanpita received approval to clear the stupa and the court from the Atamasthana committee. The approval was subsequently canceled as the monk decided to settle down. Palannaruwe Sobita thereto sought and received permission to continue clearing the premises but approval was once again canceled when the monk initiated the collection of contributions. However, the monk refused to leave; in the legal procedures which ensued he was forced to leave.

Conservation work has been funded by the income from ticket sales, mainly to foreign tourists to the three cultural triangle sites of Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa and Sigiriya. Bricks were burned using the same kind of mixture that was used by the builders of the original dagoba. Excavations have revealed artifacts indicating that Sri Lanka was the primary entrepot for trade activity connecting the Indian rim countries as well as the Mediterranean and the Far East, and artistic influences that point to a shared culture in South Asia

 

Specific details

Must See Jetavanaramaya Stupa
Opening Hours 6:00 AM - 6:00 PM
Best time to visit Year Round
Entrance Tickets Required Yes
Restaurant Available Yes
Parking Available Yes
Payment Options Payment upon arrival
Duration 30 minutes
Local Guide Available Yes

Location

Anuradhapura, Anuradhapura District, Sri Lanka

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