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Ratnaprasada, Anuradhapura Overview

Famous for its beautifully carved stone structures, the Rathna Prasada is the Uposatha house (a place for the cleansing of the defiled mind) of the Abhayagiri Viharaya. It holds great importance to Buddhists and is a historical landmark in Anuradhapura. Built-in 192-194 AD by King Kanitta Tissa who ruled Ceylon, Rathna Prasada or Gem palace was originally a seven storeyed skyscraper with tiered roof, had beautiful guard stones (Mura Gal) and a statue of Buddha made of gold.

Though in ruins now, it has some elegant ancient monolithic pillars, beautiful guard stones at the inner entrance, a mythical dragon, a seven-headed cobra figure (naga gala) and dwarf servant structures which have been drawing the attention of tourists. The guard stones are considered the most preserved and most intricate guard stones found from Anuradhapura era. The carvings on the ruins are beautiful and advance, implying that there was generated architecture in that era, especially the Guard stone. The massive stone pillars suggest that the building would have been gigantic during the King's time.

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Things to Do in Ratnaprasada

1. Visit the queen's palace, where one can see the beautiful and most significant moonstones.

2. On Watawandana road on your way towards Rathna Prasadaya, you will find one striking buddha samadhi in 'vitarka' posture belonging to 6-8th century A.D which was made of granite. It has no access fee.

History of Ratnaprasada

Built as a consequence of the competition between Mahavihariya Bhikkus and Abhayagiriya Bhikkus (monks), Rathna Prasadaya or jewel palace was a counterpart to Mahavihariya's Lovamahapaya (Brazen Palace). In the 8th century, King Mahinda II rebuilt this seven storeys and installed Buddha statue made out of gold. But the Rathna Prasada had to face problems because of its wealth as all these treasures were looted by south Indian Pandayans in the time of king Sena I (833-853 AD) but were again recovered by king Sena II (853-887 AD). The monks of the Tapovana belonging to the Pansakulika sect lived here and had placed a guard stone for the safety of treasure during that time.

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