Most of the 8th-century Ratnaprasada or 'Jewel Palace' lies in ruins today, though it was originally seven storeys high with a graceful, tiered roof. The entrance is marked by a beautifully carved muragala (guardstone), which depicts the Cobra King holding a vase of abundance and a flowering branch, with a dwarf attendant at his feet and his head framed by a cobra hood.

The monks of Ratnaprasada monastery often gave sanctuary to people in trouble with the authorities, and this led to a major conflict with the king. When court officials at odds with the king took sanctuary in the Ratnaprasada, the king sent his supporters to capture and execute them. The monks, disgusted at this invasion of a sacred place, departed en masse. The general populace, equally disgusted, besieged the Ratnaprasada, captured and executed the king’s supporters and forced the king to apologise to the departed monks in order to bring the monks back to the city and restore peace.

To the south of the Ratnaprasada is the Lankarama, a 1st-century-BC dagoba.

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Nearby Anuradhapura attractions

1. Alms Hall

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To the southwest of the Abhayagiri Dagoba this small site has a 19m-long stone batnava (or rice canoe) that would have been filled daily with cooked rice…

2. Abhayagiri Dagoba

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Dating back to the 1st century BC, this colossal dagoba was the ceremonial focus of the 5000-strong Abhayagiri Monastery. Originally over 100m high, it…

3. Moonstone

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Sitting northwest of the Abhayagiri Dagoba, this ruined 9th-century residential complex for monks is notable for having the finest carved moonstone in Sri…

4. Eth Pokuna

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Surrounded by forest, this huge body of water is thought to have acted as an ancient water storage tank for the Abhayagiri monastery rather than as a pool…

5. Abhayagiri Museum

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This museum, south of the Abhayagiri Dagoba, is arguably the most interesting in Anuradhapura and contains a collection of squatting plates, jewellery,…

6. Samadhi Buddha


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7. Lankarama Dagoba

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To the south of the Ratnaprasada is this whitewashed 1st-century-BC dagoba.

8. Kuttam Pokuna

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These swimming-pool-like ponds were likely used by monks from nearby Kaparamula residence hall. Water entered the larger pond through the mouth of a…