With plenty of time still left in the match, India resisted the temptation to send Sri Lanka back in, choosing instead to bat again in the hope of building an unassailable lead before making an early declaration.
Dhawan made 126 runs between lunch and tea, the second most by an Indian batsman in a session, behind Virender Sehwag's 133, also against Sri Lanka, in Bombay in 2009.
Since, Asela Gunaratne has been ruled out of the series due to thumb injury on day one, hosts were batsman short. This was the biggest first innings lead by India on Lankan soil.
Veteran Dilruwan Perera hit a top score of 92 - with 10 fours and four sixes - but ran out of partners before he could get a deserved century.
Shikhar Dhawan (190) and Chesteshwar Pujara (144 not out) put India in a commanding position as the visitors reached 399/3 on Day 1 of the first Test against Sri Lanka at Galle.
Previous captain Angelo Mathews was on the crease with 54 runs and on the other side, Dilruwan Perera was there who was at 6 runs when the stumps were drawn for the day.
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Abhinav Mukund said that he felt welcomed in the Indian dressing room despite being a newcomer in the squad, adding that playing with the likes of skipper Virat Kohli and Ravindra Jadeja at the junior level has made his life a lot easier in his latest comeback to the senior side.
"We would like to maintain that standard".
Ajinkya Rahane was batting on 39 with Pujara, their fourth-wicket association already worth 113 runs at the Galle International Stadium. We are very well poised at this stage. I don't want to think about the next Test. We should not forget this that it was the Sri Lanka who beat India in the last Champions Trophy.
Nuwan Pradeep perhaps is a man of few words and many wickets.
When India decided, and unsurprisingly it must be said, not to enforce the follow-on in the second session of day three of this first Test match against Sri Lanka, there was always that question in the back of the mind: Will rain make that decision look foolhardy?
But when things got underway, there wasn't much to cherish for him. I got some rhythm. Umesh Yadav (1-78) and Jadeja got proceedings underway for India, but neither were troubled the duo as they brought up their 50-partnership off 96 balls. In the final delivery of the day, Danushka Gunathilaka (1-15) trapped Mukund LBW. Zimbabwe's Graeme Cremer had conceded 187 runs for his one wicket vs New Zealand at Bulawayo in 2016 and Daniel Vettori - 178 runs conceded for his three wickets for New Zealand vs India at Nagpur in 2010.