Jethawanaramaya Stupa – The Largest Brick Structure in the World

Hi guys, hope you are doing well. Today I’m taking you back to Anuradhapura, to show you the proud history of Sri Lanka. Today I will take you to the largest brick structure (by volume) in the world, Jethawanaramaya Stupa. It is situated in Anuradhapura in the Jethawana Vihara (ruined) premises. Jethawanaramaya, Jethawana Vihara, Jethawanaya, all these names are referring the same place.

jethawanaramaya stupa


Interesting Facts About Jethawanaramaya Stupa

– By volume, it is the largest brick structure in the world. (Don’t confuse this with the largest brick construction by area.

– It is the largest/tallest Stupa in the world.

– At the inception, it is third tallest structure in the world followed by pyramids in Giza.


These facts may give you a picture, how much large this stupa is. Now let’s see the dimensions in numbers. The stupa was originally 121.9m high, but today only 70.7m stand. The diameter of its base is 102m. The volume of the stupa is 233,000m3. It is estimated that more than 93 million baked bricks must have been used to build Jethawanarama stupa.

jethawanarama stupa


History of Jethawanaramaya

Jethawanaramaya was a monastery spread over a large area. According to Wikipedia, the construction of Jethawanaramaya was started by King Mahasena (273–301). But due to its enormous size, he couldn’t complete it. It’s his son, King Maghavanna, who completed the monastery and the stupa (with the height of 121.9m). It is said that a sash or a belt, which belonged to Lord Buddha is enshrined in Jethawanaramaya Stupa.

jethawanaramaya stupa

There is a tragic story bound with Jethawana Viharaya. At the time, ‘Mahavihara’ was the main Buddhist monastery of the island which received the patronage of the kings’ vastly. Due to a disagreement over a matter of discipline, a dispute was created between Mahavihara theros and ‘Abayagiri’ (another major monastery) theros.

One Abayagiri thero (Sanghamitta) approached the king (King Mahasena) cleverly, won his trust and made his mind against the Mahavihara Theros. That went too far that the king even prohibited people giving alms to Mahavihara theros. All the theros left Mahavihara and settled down in the southern parts of the country to save their lives. Sanghamitta thero even convinced the king to destroy Mahavihara and use that materials to build a new monastery and stupa in the same Mahavihara premises. That newly built monastery is the Jethawanaramaya or Jethawana Viharaya.


But after that the king has faced an immense pressure from the public and his own officials. He realized his faults and constructed the Mahavihara again, as well as Jethawanaramaya.

Destroyed Over Time

The fate of Jethawanaramaya is also same as most of other historical places in Anuradhapura. The place was destroyed by North Indian Invaders and when the kingdom was shifted to Polonnaruwa, it got covered by the jungle. King Parakramabahu (12th century), who ruled in Polonnaruwa Kigndom, has renovated the stupa with the present height (70.7m).

Jethawanaramaya stupa before renovation
Photo Credit:

This is how it looked like in around 1900, before the last renovation. It has taken a long time to renovate Jethawanaramaya Stupa while conserving the original values. Remains of the Jethawana Vihara can be seen around the stupa still. Don’t forget to see them if you ever visit the place, especially the ‘Image House’ (the place where the statue of Lord Buddha placed). There are a number of stone carvings and other stone works.

Carving of Snake
A stone carving of a snake placed at Jethawanaramaya Stupa

How to Reach…?

This is definitely a place you must visit in Anuradhapura. Here is the exact location for your information.

Each and every ruins of Anuradhapura Ancient Town, shows the degree of the advance construction technology Sri Lankans have had in so early eras. People were devoted to Buddhism and they were bound by the king’s orders. So they built the unthinkable.

//Click here to find an accommodation in Anuradhapura…///


jethawanaramaya stupa

So that’s about Jethawanaramaya or Jethawanaya or Jethawana Viharaya. If you have any queries, feel free to leave a comment below. See you in the next article.

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