The main ceremonial stairway, lined with frangipani trees, leads to the Ambasthale Dagoba, built over the spot where Mahinda converted Devanampiya Tissa to Buddhism. A nearby statue of the king wearing traditional dress marks the spot where he met Mahinda. The name Ambasthale means ‘Mango Tree’ and refers to a riddle that Mahinda used to test the king’s intelligence.
To the side, up a flight of rock-carved steps is a large white Buddha statue.
The bodhi tree to the left of the steps leading to the Mahaseya Dagoba is said to be one of the oldest surviving trees in Sri Lanka. The tree is surrounded by a railing festooned with prayer flags left by pilgrims.