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Jetavanarama monastery, Anuradhapura Overview

Jetavanaramaya monastery is one of the largest monasteries in the heritage city of Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka. This magnificent structure was the third-largest structure in the ancient world. Legend has it that a part of Buddha’s sash or belt was tied and preserved here at the Jetavanaramaya monastery.

The Jetavanaramaya stupa comes with a fascinating historical significance which depicts the differences going on between the two sects of Buddhism- Theravada and Mahayana sects of Buddhism. Today, the stupa is no longer the tallest, but is one of the largest in the world, with an area of over five hectares and housing over 10,000 monks.

The Jetavanaram stupa is a great way to experience the Buddhist culture in its purest form.

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History of Jetavanarama

King Mahasena of Anuradhapura built the Jetavanaramaya stupa somewhere in the 3rd Century BCE after the destruction of Mahavihara. The construction of the structure was completed by his son Maghavanna I. Later on the Jetavanarama stupa was under the monks of the Sagalika sect.

Things To Do

1. Museum at Jetavanaramaya:
The museum at Jetavanarma houses a treasure of the different artefacts which have been discovered somewhere during the 2nd Century BCE and the early 3rd Century BCE. Some of the fascinating objects and artefacts include Roman, Indian and other coins, more than 300,000 beads made of clay, glass, stone, crystal, agate, carnelian, ivory, bone, shell, gold and silver, and bronze; Buddhist and Hindu ritual objects; slabs of stone with paintings.

2. Buddhist Railing at Jetavanaramaya:
Behind the museum is the beautiful Buddhist railing, which is a rectangular structure with four entrances one on each side.

3. Monks’ Living Units (Pancavasa) at Jetavanaramaya:
The Monk’s Living Units comprise of almost five buildings which have been beautifully adorned by moonstones, guard stones, and balustrades. The structure is southwest of the Jetavanarama stupa. The senior monk lives at the centre while the other monks reside in the nearby four buildings.

4. Image House (Patimaghara) at Jetavanaramaya:
The Patimaghara is the largest Image House which in all of the heritage city of Anuradhapura. It houses a beautiful stone reliquary and lotus pedestal of Buddha image.

5. Refectory or Danasala at Jetavanaramaya:
The Refectory or Danasala is a stone-paved courtyard house which used to serve rice. Looking at the size of the rice boat gives us an estimate that it could have been feeding almost 3000 monks at one time.

6. Chapter House at Jetavanaramaya:
The Chapter House is a place where the monks perform their religious duties such as offering prayers, meditation and holding meaningful discussions on the sacred texts. The massive columns cut in stone testify to the impressive multi-story structure that had existed in its glorious days. One of the main functions of the Chapter House was to function as a place for the monks to confess any breach of conduct made by them to the head monk.

How To Reach Jetavanaramaya Monastery

Jetavanaramaya is in the city of Anuradhapura and to reach the structure, and one will have to hire a private taxi or tuk-tuk.

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