Buddhism, specifically Theravada Buddhism, was introduced in Sri Lanka in the 3rd century BC by Mahendra, the son of King Ashoka. Since then, it has grown into a major centre of Buddhist learning in Asia. Today, nearly 70 per cent of the entire population of the country follows it. More than 6000 Buddhist monasteries and stupas are located in different parts of this island nation. Each of these holy sites is visited by hordes of devotees and tourists, all along the year. If you are planning to come to this island country for a holiday, then you should definitely visit some of these sacred sites and explore their architecture and history. You could do this by availing a Sri Lanka holiday package that includes a visit to some of these venerated places.
This ancient stupa, located in the ancient city of Anuradhapura, is one of the major Buddhists structures in this nation and a must-visit religious site. This architectural marvel was commissioned by King Duttugamunu in 161 BC; however, he did not live long enough to see its completion. With a circumference of 292 m, base diameter of 90 m and height of 103 m, it is one of the tallest monuments in the world. The highlight of this structure is its design that resembles a bubble of milk.
According to legends, some important Buddhist relics have been kept here; hence, it is one of the most revered sites for Buddhists in the country. The materials used for the construction of this structure were brought from the bank of Gambhira River, rock-cave of Ridi and villages of Tambapittha, Avuruvini, Pelavapi and Samanveve. An interesting fact about it is that the Kaunghmudaw Pagoda in Myanmar has been inspired by it.
If you wish to explore this magnificent monument during your holiday in Sri Lanka, all you need to do is to reach Anuradhapura, which lies about 183 km from Colombo. After reaching the Bandarnaike International Airport in Colombo, take a train, bus or private car to reach Anuradhapura in 4 to 5 hours.
Besides exploring the Ruwanwelisaya stupa, you can visit other important attractions of this city, such as Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi, Sigiriya, Lankarama and Jetavanaramaya.