Jetavanarama Dagoba

Top choice in Anuradhapura

The Jetavanarama Dagoba’s massive dome rises above the entire eastern part of Anuradhapura. Built in the 3rd century by King Mahasena, it may have originally topped 120m, but today is about 70m – similar to the Abhayagiri. When it was built it was almost certainly the third-tallest monument in the world, the first two being Egyptian pyramids.

Its vast, bulbous form is unplastered and said to consist of more than 90 million bricks. A British guidebook from the early 1900s calculated that this was enough bricks to make a 3m-high wall stretching from London to Edinburgh.

Around it stand the ruins of a monastery that housed 3000 monks. One building has door jambs over 8m high still standing, with another 3m still buried underground. This area was once part of an ancient pleasure park called Nandana Uyana, said to be the site of the first sermons on Buddhism preached by Mahinda in the 3rd century BC.