Mirisawetiya Stupa is situated in the Anudhapura Ancient Town between Tissa Wewa (tank) and Basawakkulama Wewa. Mirisawetiya Stupa is built by the great King Dutugemunu (161 BC to 137 BC).
History of Mirisawetiya Stupa
Mirisawetiya Stupa is the first stupa built by the great King Dutugemunu. He built it after defeating the South Indian King Elara, who invade Sri Lanka and ruled the Northern parts of the island for 30 years. According to the history, the inception of the stupa was as follows.
After defeating King Elara, King Dutugemunu was crowned as the king of the whole Sri Lanka. After his coronation, there were a number of festivals. Among them, there was a water festival in ‘Tissa Wewa’ (tank), which is built by his own father, King Devanampiya Tissa (the same one who built Isurumuniya and Thuparamaya). On the way to participate in that, the king planted his ‘scepter’ (which contains a sacred relic of Lord Buddha) somewhere nearby the Tissa Wewa.
When he came back after the festival, it is said that no one could move the scepter from where it was planted. Amazed by the this miracle, the king has decided to build a stupa covering the scepter. That scepter was not an ordinary one. It had a sacred relic of Lord Buddha and it was the scepter which is kept by the king all the time while he was battling with King Elara.
How the Name Mirisawetiya Was Given?
King Dutugemunu had a custom that from every meal prepared in the palace, a portion is offered to Buddhist monks. That was one of his promises to his father, King Devanampiya Tissa. One day the king ate a ‘chili curry’ mistakenly without offering it to the monks. The history said that the king was very upset and to compensate his fault, he gave the name ‘Mirisawetiya’ (Miris+wetiya) to his first stupa. ‘Miris’ means chili in Sinhalese.
As per ‘Mahawansa’, Mirisawetiya Stupa is built in the ‘Mahavihara’ premises as a part of Mahaviharaya. But with the passage of time, it developed as a separate monastery linked to Mahaviharaya. It is said that the Viharaya (monastery) was spread over a large area. Today also the remains of the viharaya can be seen around the stupa. Don’t forget to see them if you will ever be there.
It is said and it can be seen that the stupa and the surround was well built and highly decorated. One masterpiece you will find here is the Vahalkada (kind of a frontispiece) built of stones. There were four of them in the four directions of the stupa and only one left in the original shape. It is a fine example of the height of the art of people in that era.
As I said in earlier articles also, same as other stupa in Anuradhapura, Mirisawetiya Stupa also damaged by the Indian invasions and the shifting of the kingdom. Later a number of kings have renovated the stupa and added various parts to the stupa and viharaya. In the colonial era (British), the government tried to renovate it several times. Some attempts failed even with disasters. One time the renovated stupa collapsed totally even destroying the only remaining ‘Vahalkada’.
Then again, it was successfully renovated in 1993 and the Vahalkada was restored by the Department of Archeology. So the present stupa is totally a new construction done with the renovations. But still you can see the remains of original Vahalkada and the other buildings of the Mirisawetiya Viharaya alone with their original carvings.
How to Reach…?
If you are convinced to visit the place, here is the exact location.
In fact, Anuradhapura is a highly recommended place to visit in Sri Lanka. Since it is the first capital of Sri Lanka, there are lots and lots of places with historical and archeological values. Further, those places are fine examples of the unbelievable technology, ability and art of the ancient Sri Lankans. Interested in visiting Anuradhapura? Book your accommodation right here.
So that is about the Mirisawetiya Stupa. If you have anything to ask or if you need more information, feel free to leave a comment below. See you in the next article.