Ruwanwelisaya is a stupa and hemispherical structure that contains relics of Sri Lanka and is considered sacred by many Buddhists around the world. Gautama Buddha’s Two quartz or one Drona of the Buddha’s relics are placed in the stupa, which is the largest collection of his relics. It was built by the great king Dutugamunu who reigned from 137BC to 119BC from Anuradhapura. It is also known as “Mahatupa”, “Swarnamali Chaitya”, “Suvarnamali Mahaseti” (in Pali), and “Ratnamali Dagaba”.
After defeating the South Indian invader Elara and bringing the whole country under one rule by the great warrior King Dutugemunu, the stupa of Ruwanweli Seya has become the most prominent of many ancient books in Sri Lanka.
King Dutugemunu did not live to see the fullness of this huge stupa. When the king fell ill, he sent his brother to finish the stupa. On King Dutugamunu’s death bed he wanted to see this stupa and his brother covered the whole dome in white cloth and constructed the upper portion of the stupa in bamboo and painter it in imitation gold and carried the king to the stupa to show the completed stupa.
This stupa is one of the “Solosmastana” (16 sacred places of the Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa ) and the “Atamastana” (the 8 sacred places of the ancient sacred city of Anuradhapura). The Stupa is one of the tallest ancient monuments in the world, measuring 103 meters (338 ft) in high and 290 meters (951 ft) in circumference. The stupa is modeled on the Karangmudau Pagoda of Sagaying, Myanmar. Mahavamsa contains a detailed description of the ceremony and construction of the stupa.
The stupa was a 19th-century ruin. It was reconstructed in the early 20th century after raising funds for a Sinhala monk. The Ruwanweli Seya Reform Society was founded in 1902 and the last crowning of the stupa was on 17th June 1940.