The History of the Kingdom of Kandy

The History of the Kingdom of Kandy


The Mahanuwara Rajadhaniya (Kingdom of Kandy) was the last independent monarchy of Sri Lanka, which came under the British in 1815. The beautiful city is located in the heart of the Island and surrounded by magnificent mountains. It has a rich history. According to historical records Kandy was first established as a city by King Wikramabahu III of Gampola (1357-1374). Some scholars suggest that the original name was “Katubulu Nuwara”. The popular historical name is Senkadagala or Senkadagalapura after the hermit Senkada, officially is Senkadagala Siriwardhana Maha Nuwara (meaning the “great city”). This long name is generally shortened to Maha Nuwara. Even it was called Kanda Uda Rata (the land on the mountains), the original principality which Europeans have named Kandy.

The first King of Senkadagala was Sena Sammatha Wickramabahu and he reigned from 1473-1511. King Sena Sammatha Wickramabahu ruled the Kingdom of Kandy as a semi-independent kingdom under the Kingdom of Kotte, making it the new capital of the Kingdom of Kandy. Thereafter following monarchs ruled the Kingdom of Kandy. King Sena Sammatha Wickramabahu was followed by his son Jayaweera Astana (1511-1551) and then by Karaliyadde Bandara (1551-1581) who was succeeded by his daughter Dona Catherina aka Kusumasana Devi (1581-1581). Dona Catherina was succeeded by Rajasinha (I) aka Tikiri Bandara (1581-1591) he was succeeded by Vimala Dharma Suriya (I) aka Konappu Bandara and his baptismal name Don Joao of Austria (1591-1604) and he was succeeded by his first cousin Senarat (1604-1635).

King Rajasinghe (1635-1687)

King Rajasinha (II) was the son of King Senarat and Empress Dona Catherina. King Rajasingha (II) reigned from (1635-1687) the Kingdom of Kandy and he styled Emperor of Lanka. The King’s Chief Queen was from Madurai Rajasimhe, she bore him one son he was named Vimala Dharma Suriya. King Rajasinha ascended the throne in 1635 at the age of 27 he ruled for 52 years and died at 79 years on 6 December 1687. King Rajasinha (II) was a war hero and a fearless fighter and spent most of his time in the battlefield, away from the capital, who waged several wars to free the country from Portuguese and Dutch domination. He hated the Portuguese and it was during his reign that the Portuguese were finally forced out from the island with the help of Merchant Princes of the VOC, Dutch East Indian Company.

King Vimala Dharma Suriya (II) (1687-1707)

After King Rajasinha’s, death his son ascended the throne as Vimala Dharma Suriya (II), he reigned from (1687-1707). He also followed his father’s example and got married to a Princess from Madurai. The kings who ruled after King Rajasingha (II) they all got their brides from South India. She bore him one son he was named Sri Vira Parakrama Narendrasinha. King Vimala Dharma Suriya (II) his death occurred on 04 June 1707.

King Sri Vira Parakrama Narendrasinha (1707-1739)

After King Vimala Dharma Suriya’s (II) death his seventeen years old son ascended the throne. King Sri Vira Parakrama Narendrasinha reigned from (1707-1739). In his reign, the Kandy Maha Dewale was founded in 1731. Sri Vira Parakrama Narendrasinha had a Kandyan wife, a noble lady the daughter of Monaravila Disava of Matale. She bore him a son, who died at a very young age. His mother and grandmother were both from South Indian origin. Later he got married to Princess Udumala Devi of Nayak Dynasty; she was the daughter of Pitti Nayaka described as being of the Wadegai Caste and the King had subsequently married her two sisters as well. None of them had borne him an heir. His queen who was from South India invoked a custom that was practised in South India which grants the Queen’s family the right to claim the throne in the event of the there being no legitimate claimant from the King’s side. One of the Queen’s brother was brought from South India and at his death bed, he nominated his chief Queen’s brother Sri Vijaya Rajasinha to succeed him. However, King Vira Parakrama Narendrasinha by a Sinhalese concubine he had a son named Unambuwa Bandara. The King was never religious or courageous. He spent much of his life in his Palace at Kundasale and Hanguranketa. He had only a few close associates and many of Kandyan Aristocrats were against with him. Much foreignness was among his close associates and was very close to the Catholic Missionaries in Kandy. The Nayakas embraced Buddhism and learned the Sinhalese language and made every effort to naturalise themselves but they avoided marrying into the local Radala Families.

According to the law of succession in ancient Sri Lanka, it was passed from father to son born of his Queen or from brother to brother or sometimes to his sister’s son. However, the royal statuses of both parents were considered important. King Sri Vira Parakrama Narendrasinha nominated his Chief Queen’s Brother. He succeeded him as Sri Vijaya Rajasinha following the rule of succession had among the people in Southern India at that time. The Senkadagala Kingdom was established in 1463 by its founder Sena Samantha Wickrama Bahu, with this came the end of the Sinhalese Dynasty in 1739. King Sri Vira Parakrama Narendrasinha was the last Sinhalese king to rule the Kingdom of Kandy. King Sri Vira Parakrama Narendrasinha died on 24 May 1739 and he was cremated on 27 May 1739.


King Visvanatha (1559-1563) was the founder of the Nayak Dynasty of Madurai. The Nayakas belonged to the Vaduga Caste and Telugu speaking group originally hailing from Madurai in South India. The Rulers of the Kingdom of Kandy sought assistance from Nayakas from time to time against the invading Portuguese. King Wimala Dharma Suriya (I) and King Senart brought down Nayakas from Thanjavur and Madurai to fight the Portuguese. When King Rajasinghe (II) fought the battle at Gannoruwa against Portuguese there have been a thousand Nayakas. With them came their families too who later intermixed with the Sinhalese population in the hills. Since 1739 The Nayaka Kings, from Malabar of South India, ruled the Mahanuwara Rajadhaniya for nearly eight decades.

King Sri Vijaya Raja Sinha (1739-1747)

The Mahanuwara Rajadhaniya was not invaded but Nayaka Kings from Madurai was invited by the Kandyan Royal Court to occupy the throne after King Sri Vira Parakrama Narendrasinha’s death who died without any lawful issue and further when the nation could not secure any of royal blood over the island. His brother in law, younger brother of Queen Udumala Devi ascended the throne as Sri Vijaya Raja Sinha, he reigned from (1739-1747). Sri Vijaya Raja Sinha was the first Nayaka King of Kandy with no trace of Sinhalese blood in his veins. He was a pure Hindu and Tamil. His three successors were the four members of the Nayak Dynasty, who traced their origin to Madurai. Marriage played a very important role in cementing the relationship between Ceylon and South India. It was a tradition for the Kandy Kings to seek brides from Madurai. King Sri Vijaya Raja Sinha after seven years he got married again to another Princess from Madurai, she was the daughter of Narenappa Nayaka, who were kinsmen of Bangaru Thirumala Nayaka who reigned from (1623-1659). From both Queens, he didn’t have any issues or brothers. King Sri Vijaya Raja Sinha died on 11 August 1747. During his reigned Wolvendaal Church in Colombo was built by Governor Julius Valentyn Stein Van Gollenesse (1743-1751).

King Kirthi Sri Raja Sinha (1747 -1780)

After the death of King Sri Vijaya Raja Sinha, his brother-in-law, wife’s eldest brother came from Madurai and ascended the Kandy throne as Kirti Sri Raja Sinha, he reigned from (1747-1780). King Kirthi Sri Raja Sinha, married two daughters of Vijaya Manan Nayakar, the grandson of Vijaya Raghava Nayakar of Thanjavur. He also got married to Princess of Madurai, the daughter of Nadukattu Sami Nayakar in 1749. But he had no children by any of his Queens. However, the King had six daughters and two sons from a Sinhalese Lady (Yakada Doli) (Concubine of no royal blood), the granddaughter of Mampitiya of the Disava of Bintanna, who wielded considerable influence in the court. She was never raised to the rank of Mahesi or Queen, both sons survived the King and the six daughters married Nayaka relatives of the king. Kirthi Sri Raja Sinha held his Yakada Doli in greater esteem than the Madura Queens. However, Mampitiya’s sons claim for the throne was overlooked and the choice fell on the Kings brother who was living in the court.

During his reign Raja Maha Vihara was built in Kandy and the Palace Complex in Kandy includes the Dalada Maligawa Temple. He reconstructed the existing inner temple of the Tooth Relic and it was only Kirthi Sri Raja Sinha, who directed that insignia of the Dalada and some Buddhist symbols should have the place of honour in the peraharas with pomp and splendour and he was responsible for bringing the Siamese monks. In 1750, he dispatched an embassy to Siam in confirmation of his predecessor’s action. The Priests arrived in Lanka in 1753 and re-established the succession, which has not since been lost, the Siamese sect, thus founded is in possession of the greater part of the old temples and of their temporalities. According to C. Sivaratnam (The Tamils in Early Ceylon), The Siamese monks were quite shocked to find Hindu temples like the Natha, Saman and Vishnu Devales in the capital of Buddhist country.

King Sri Vijaya Raja Sinha rebuilt the part of Munneswaram Temple destroyed by the Portuguese and executed deeds of grants of land to this temple. The annual Kandy perahera was more in the nature of a Hindu festival with the taking round of only Hindu deities, Natha, Vishnu, Skanda, Saman and Pattni. He also handed back Sri Pada to Buddhists after its possession by the Hindus for 150 years. The English declared that King Kirti Sri Raja Sinha was an independent sovereign, with the right to negotiate with whomever he thought fit. Governor Van Eck, on his second campaign, reached Katugasthota and the King sent a delegation headed by newly appointed Maha Adikaram Pilimatalavuva (Chief Minister) for negotiations. The ambassador was received with royal honours but any self-respecting monarch could not agree to the demands made by Governor Van Eck. The Governor felt that the King was dragging the negotiations and ordered the looting of the city. The booty was so rich and consisted of finest linen, precious stones, gold, silver, jewels etc. Governor Van Eck even looted the riches that the pious devotees had offered Dalada Maligawa.

Buried behind the palace was the silver covering of the relic casket weighing 210 pounds. The Governor melted the casket and distributed this silver among his soldiers, after carrying this to Colombo. He also took the Gold State Sword from the Palace and it is presently in the display at Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Stating that gold sword acquired in 1765 by Governor Van Eck in his campaign and the sword was owned by King Kirti Sri Raja Sinha of Kandy. Professor P. H. D. H. De Silva who had examined the Gold State Sword states that it has a gold handle, 81 centimetres long and studded with 136 precious stones. King Kirti Sri Raja Sinha died on 2 January 1782, of the injuries caused two months before by a fall from his horse and his brother Sri Rajadhi Raja Sinha, refused to teat with the envoy on the ground that he was not authorized by King George III.

King Sri Rajadhi Raja Sinha (1780-1798)

Sri Rajadhi Raja Sinha ascended the throne of Kandy and he reigned from (1780-1798). King Sri Rajadhi Raja Sinha had come to Ceylon during his childhood and he had his education in Kandy. King Sri Rajadhi Raja Sinha had three wives. His Chief Queen was Alamaloo Ammah aka Menatchi Ammah, his second Queen was Upendra Ammah aka Opiantia Ammah, and his third Queen was Renganaikie Ammah, sister of Alamaloo Ammah and sister of Ramasamy. Second Queen Upendra Ammah was a cousin of Ramasamy he had a son named Coomarasamy Raja. Queen Alamaloo Ammah and third Queen Renganaikie Ammah, they both jointly adopt there brother’s son Coomarasamy Raja, he had a son named Muttusamy Raja and his son was named Ramakrishna Raja. His second Queen Upendra Ammah had a sister and two brothers, namely, Subbamma, Kondesamy Rajah and Mudusamy Rajah. Kondesamy Rajah had a son named Vencatasoobbarayalu Rajah and Mudusamy Rajah had a son named Thorasamy Naika alias Doraisamy Rajah. King Sri Rajadhi Raja Sinha was a very cultured man who knew many languages, among them being Pali and Sanskrit. He was a lover of poetry and himself a poet and he composed and published the “Asadisa Jataka” in Sinhalese verse. He reconstructed the walls of the Uposatha Hall of the Malwatta Vihara. The King Sri Rajadhi Raja Sinha died of a fever on 16 July 1798, without any issues.

Prince Kannasamy

Prince Kannasamy was in charge of the royal treasury in Hanguranketa. King Sri Rajadhi Raja Sinha wife’s sister’s son became the ruler over the island and he was not a natural heir to the throne. Prince Kannasamy was the son of Venkata Perumal, who was the Chief Priest of the Temple in Rameswaram in India and Subbamma. Prince Kannasamy was a nephew of King Sri Rajadhi Raja Sinha. Venkata Perumal died before the child was born. The widow Subbamma and her son Kannasamy came to Ceylon on the invitation of her sister Queen Upendra Ammah and Prince Kannasamy was raised in Ceylon. After the sudden demise of King Sri Rajadhi Raja Sinha (1780-1798), the Maha Adikaram Pilimatalavuva III (1790-1811), he installed Prince Kannasamy, on the throne of Kandy. He was eighteen years old when he ascended the throne of Kandy.

King Sri Vickrama Rajasinha (1798-1815)

The crowning of the new King took place with all the rituals according to the royal traditions. Prince Kannasamy took the name of Sri Vickrama Rajasinha and he reigned from (1798-1815). In spite of the other claimants, one of them was the Queen Upendra Ammah’s brother, the rightful candidate by the name Mudusamy Rajah who was also a favourite of the British. King Sri Vickrama Rajasinha was a handsome person, his face encircled by a thick neatly trimmed beard and he had a “Tilak” mark on his forehead. He was tall and muscular in appearance. King Sri Vickrama Rajasinha had four wives and they were Venkata Ranga Ammal Devi and Venkata Ranga Ammal who were two sisters. Later early in 1813, he married the two daughters of Degal Sami, even before they attained age, Muttu Kannamma Devi Degal Sami and Venkata Ammal Degal Sami.

King Sri Vickrama Rajasinha wore NecklacesCrownHeadgear (Nalapata)BraceletsArmletsEarrings and Rings. The King wore elaborate clothing and he used to wear loose trouser as a lower garment, at the ankle two layers of frills are attached. King Sri Vickrama Rajasinha wore a long-sleeved fine muslin shirt as “Yata Hette” or “Reli Kamise”. A well-decorated sleeveless jacket with a three-layered “Mante” (is a collar part which fastened to the shirt) had worn over it. He also wore a fine muslin shirt as an “Uta Kameesaya” lower jacket. A sleeveless jacket was worn over it that might be made out of brocade or decorated fabric. He also wore different costumes. The King wore pair of sandals that is unique to his fashion. He carried a staff of beautiful carvings and studded gemstones. King Sri Vikrama Rajasinha unlikely other kings he carried a handkerchief.

King Sri Vickrama Rajasinha was a great builder and he made a significant contribution to Kandyan architecture. He wished to show his subjects that he was a great king. During his reign, he completed the Dalada Maligawa complex by constructing the beautiful Octagonal pavilion (Pattirippuva) and the Picturesque Lake to its tremendous glory. He also donated more lands to Dalada Maligawa and the King gave high prominence to Dalada Perahera. Sri Vickrama Rajasinha embraced Buddhism and did sacrifices to the Tooth Relic. The above four last rulers of the Kingdom of Kandy and their queens were of pure Nayaka blood from Madurai and all the four Kings and queens, they later converted to Buddhism.

Dravidian Influences In The Kingdom Of Kandy

According to C. Sivaratnam (The Tamils in Early Ceylon), With the Dravidian cultural influences had completely engulfed the Kandyan court. The Kings set examples to their subjects in customs and manners. When a prince or a royal bride came from Madurai to Kandy they did not come alone. They were accompanied by their parents, brothers and sisters, kith and kin and a whole heap of retinue. They were accommodated in mansions in Kumararupe Vidya (present Malabar street). Narenappu Nayakkar, father-in-law of Sri Vijaya Rajasingha became the foremost counselor of the king. Swaminathan and Hemanathan came from Madurai with the queen, as Narendrasingha’s ministers. Other Nayakkars held the post of honour for which they received “Nindagams” (A village granted to certain individuals on account of their service to the King). They all introduced new elements of Dravidian culture. Kings were hedged round by “a foreign ceremonial code of formalities”, unknown to previous Sinhalese kings, such as abject prostration by ordinary subjects as well as by nobles and foreign ambassadors.

No one was allowed to ride a horse or be carried in a Palanquin within the Royal City. The Disavas and Ratemahatmayas (Chief Headmen) copied these customs and practised them among their own smaller circles. The subjects followed the king’s example. Processions (peraheras) pilgrimages and festivals were emphasized.

According to C. Sivaratnam (The Tamils in Early Ceylon), With the arrival of the Nayakkar Kings, the ascendancy of the powers of the Kandyan aristocracy became more and more pronounced. The Nayakkars were foreigners, unacquainted with the ways of their new country, young and inexperienced in statecraft, and did not know the Sinhalese language. Policymaking and administrative affairs, therefore, slipped easy into the hands of the chieftains. The Nilames (Office Holder), Adigars, (Chief Ministers) Disavas (Governor of District), Ratemahatmayas (Chief Headmen), Korales (Sub-division of Disavanni), Athukorales and Vidanes (Headman / Overseer) on the civil side, the Mudaliyars (Heights ranking native Chieftains), Muhandirams (An Office of Rank, a title of honour), Arachchis (Headman of Village) and Kanganies (Headmen) on the military side formed one solid phalanx of a new aristocracy endowed with royal powers.

According to Ananda S. Pilimatalavuva (the Chieftains in the last phase of the Kandyan Kingdom), During his reign two of his Maha Adikarams, Pilimatalavuva III and Ehelepola IV in turn planned to re-establish a Sinhala Dynasty to rule Sinhala (Sri Lanka). Sensing the situation, it led to constant friction between the King and his Maha Adikarams (Chief Minister) and finally resulted in beheading in June 1811 of Pilimatalavuva Maha Adikaram, his greatest benefactor who elevated him to the throne, and the severe punishment meted out to the innocent family of Ehelepola Maha Adikaram involving the beheading of his three children and the drowning of the ladies of the family in the Bogambara lake, to avenge Ehelepola Maha Adikaram’s escape to Colombo and joining the British. In retaliation to his crime, Ehelepola helped to the British to enter Sinhala (Kandyan Kingdom) and capture the King.

The Conspiracy To Overthrow The King

King Sri Vickrama Rajasinha later disliked the activities of Maha Adikaram (Chief Minister) Pilimatalavuva and in the meantime British tried to capture the Kingdom Kandy in 1803 and was a failure. Then the British thought of getting the support of Kandy Chieftains who were against the King Sri Vickrama Rajasinha. Maha Adikaram Pilimatalavuva infect approached the British for help. British thought of a tricky way of capturing Kandy and “Sir John D’ Oyly” went on to learn the native language, associated with scholars, composed poetry and studied the culture and belief of the people. That helped them to build up a friendship with all the noble Kandy chiefs of the time and learn the inside political story of Kandy Kings. The Chieftains of Kandy sought help from the British to overthrow the King. They were prepared to accept a foreign power to rule over their Kingdom at the cost of their independence. The British were at first not in favour conquering the Kingdom of Kandy. But Governor Robert Brownrigg finally came round to accept the view that the Kandyans themselves wanted British intervention.

By Aryadasa Ratnasinghe – Daily News, Sat Mar 2, 2002, The Maha Adikaram Pilimatalavuva Wijeyesundera, who was elevated to the prestigious position of Maha Adikaram in 1790, by the King Rajadhi Raja Sinha, when he was under the zenith of power, approached the British to work out his plan to secure the throne. But, the crown was still beyond his grasp. He therefore wishing to secure it for his son, arranged that he should marry the natural granddaughter of the late King Sri Kirti Raja Sinha (1747-1780). This was more than what the King could stand. He accordingly summoned the Maha Adikaram to appear before the Maha Naduwa (High Court) accused him of being the author of all the cruel and unpopular activities of his reign and deposed him from his office and imprisoned him. However, he was later set free and allowed to go home. In Kandy, there had never been an ex-Adikaram, for good reason, either died in harness during imprisonment or was executed when deposed. But in reality, the King was apprehensive to offend the most gracious family of the Maha Adikaram and so spared his life. The fallen Chief Pilimatalavuva, in his rage for retributive justice, now planned to assassinate the King. He bribed the Malay Muhandiram and told him to enter the King’s bedroom and stab him on a given day.

The plan did not materialise as he was caught while inside the bedroom. After enquiry, those involved in the incident were arrested, along with Pilimatalavuva, his son and son-in-law and all were condemned to death in 1812, Maha Adikaram Pilimatalavuva and his accomplice Ratwatte Wijeyewardena were beheaded, but the son was spared at the intercession of some chiefs who were in the good books of the King.

By Aryadasa Ratnasinghe – Daily News, March 2, 2002, Having been placed on the throne by the King’s professed benefactor Maha Adikaram Pilimatalavuva, when the Prince was 18 years old, the King could not condemn him to death so easily as others. But, the turn of events compelled him to do so for high treason. Pilimatalavuva was, in reality, an inveterate and an intriguing enemy, a faithless minister, a hostile neighbour and a powerful and an ambitious person, who was always ready to encourage traitors to achieve his own ends. Under these circumstances, the throne was surrounded by the most embarrassing perplexities and complexities, which would have, doubtless, required a person of great talent and patience to surmount.

Terrified by the past and apprehensive of the future, and intent of his own security, regardless of consequences, the king showed himself a perfect tyrant, destitute of religious feelings and without moral principles, either human or divine. The episodes of his womanizing, drinking and debauchery disclosed his way of life caused mostly by mental distractions.

After the transfer of power with the surrender of the Dutch in Colombo, Frederick North (Earl of Guildford) arrived in Ceylon in 1798, as the first British colonial governor of the maritime settlements, displacing Brigadier-General Pierre Frederic de Mauron, who was a military governor. The Maha Adikaram Pilimatalavuva, the most powerful chief of the Royal Court, who secretly aspired to wear the crown, by deposing the King, had an interview with the Governor North at Sitawaka and requested the British to take possession of the Kingdom of Kandy and uphold him in the throne, after deposing the King, in return for liberal trade concessions.

Governor North, sensing what was boiling in the political pot, and not particularly interested in internal warfare, indignantly refused to accept the offer for territorial aggrandizement, broke off dealings with the Maha Adikaram. But in the courses of subsequent interviews with the Governor’s Secretary, he understood that the British were ready to undertake and protect the Kingdom and uphold him in power, provided that the King’s life and dynasty were preserved inviolate and that the British given the effective control of trade and military administration of the provinces. When the king became aware what was going on between the Maha Adikaram and the British Governor North and the plan to dethrone the King, he began to chafe under restraint and tried to break away from the intriguing chief.

In the meantime it was resolved that General Hay MacDowell should proceed on an embassy to meet the king, ostensibly to congratulate him on his accession to the throne, but in reality, to obtain his consent to the terms suggested in making the Kingdom of Kandy a British protectorate. But, it turned out to be a flop.

On 11 March 1812, Lieutenant-General Sir Robert Brownrigg assumed duties as the Governor and his regime was noted specially for the annexation of the Kandyan Kingdom to the British Crown and making the whole country a crown colony. The last four Kings who ruled the Kingdom of Kandy were Tamil Nayakas from Madurai, India. The Tamil language thus held an honoured possession in the Kandyan court. It is an accepted historical fact that the Tamil was used as one of the court languages of Kandy. Hence, even the high-ranking Sinhalese officials in Kandy were fluent in Tamil. But it is intriguing to note that even after the King was deposed they chose to subscribe their signature in Tamil as they were Tamils and their Tamil ancestry. As a collection, there are still Tamil correspondences of the Kandy Kings.

According to C. Sivaratnam (The Tamils in Early Ceylon), Prince Vijayapala wrote letters to his brother King Rajasinha II in Tamil. A collection of sixty-six Tamil correspondences of the Kandyan kings were later discovered, one of them being from King Sri Rajasinha II to Louis XVI of France.

On 10 January 1815, The British once again declared war against the King of Kandy. The British troops were joined by the chiefs who were ill-disposed towards the King and the people of the Disawanis under their leaders. Troops from all the areas marched surrounding Kandy. The British waited for an opportune moment to muster the support of the Sinhalese who were unhappy with the Nayakar rule.

The British Took Possession Of The Kandy City

King Sri Vickrama Rajasinha who reigned for seventeen years from (1798-1815) AD, was the last monarch of the Kingdom of Kandy. On 14 February 1815, a British division entered Kandy and took possession of the city and Ehelepola Nilame (Chief Minister of Kandy) as sent to capture the King who had by then fled the city for safety. His hiding place was soon discovered at Gallehewatte a mile beyond Meda Maha Nuwara off Teldeniya surrounded by rings off mountains in Kandy.

The Last King Of Kandy Was Taken, Prisoner

The King was taken prisoner on the night of 18 February 1815 by an armed party of Ehelepola Nilame adherents headed by Ekneligoda Dissawa and accompanied by Lieutenant Colonel C. Hook. The whole royal family took refuge in a house belonging to one Bomure Udupitiya Arachchi at Gallehewatte, a mile beyond Meda Maha Nuwara with two of his Queens. Soon after the rebels surrounded the house where the King had taken refuge, he and his queen’s were humiliated at the hands of the rebels. The King was bound with ropes and dragged away with the greatest indignity to the nearest village by his own subjects. His Queen’s dress was torn and her jewels were snatched from her person, causing injury. His subjects showed their contempt by upbraiding him and by general insulting behaviour. Much valuable property belonging to the King and the royal family is said to have been plundered by the Kandyans who seized him and he complains of the insulting language and ill-treatment experienced from them, but otherwise shows no symptoms of hurt feelings or depression at his fate. From the royal palace, all articles of any value have been removed and the house of the ministers have also been completely plundered. British troops arrived at the scene in time and rescued the King and his family from being hurt further by the angry crowd.

John D’Oyly Call On The Fallen Monarch

By M. B. Dassanayake – Sunday Times, January 25, 1998, On the following morning, John D’ Oyly (afterwards Sri John) called on the fallen monarch and found him surrounded by his old mother and wives, with their families. They were in a pitiable state of mind through having heard a rumour that they were to be treated as the King had been accustomed to treat the women of his foes and that the King himself was to stand trial before the British Government. Sir John D’ Oyly was able to pacify them with assurances that not only would the King and his families be safe, but that they would be treated with every respect due to their station.

The King Sri Vickrama Rajasinha had been greatly agitated fearing for his life and about the disgrace and abuse that may be caused to his queens and other young ladies of the royal family. By M. B. Dassanayake – Sunday Times, January 25, 1998, Taking the hands of his mother and his four queens, in turn, he formally presented them to Sir John D’ Oyly and commended them solemnly to his care.

These female relatives who have no participation in his crimes are certainly deserving of our commiseration in his and particularly the aged mother who appears inconsolable and there she has been almost constantly in tears since the captivity of her son.

Among the articles brought to Brownrigg after the King’s capture were the Throne, Foot Stool, Sceptre the King’s Great Seal and the Royal Banner.

The Sinhalese Monarchy Which Was Founded In 543 BC Came To An End

With the capture of the Nayakar King Sri Vikrama Rajasinha on 18 February 1815, the Sinhalese monarchy which commenced in 543 B.C. with the Vijaya Dynasty came to an end.

The Kandyan Convention

The Mahanuwara Rajadhaniya (Kingdom of Kandy) was never conquered but surrendered to the British Crown by a treaty signed on 2 March 1815. The Convention was proclaimed in public which was held in the Audience Hall of the Palace of Kandy, between the Governor Sir Robert Brownrigg and the Principal Chiefs of the Kandy provinces and other subordinate headmen from different provinces, amidst a great concourse of people. Out of 11 Chieftains, who were witness to the Convention, many of them signed the Treaty in Tamil. The signatories to the Kandyan Convention, Governor Sir Robert Brownrigg signed in English first on behalf of the His Majesty King George (III) (1760-1820), King of Great Britain. On behalf of the people the following Chiefs signed. 1) Ehelepola in Tamil, 2) Molligoda, first Adigar and Disawe of seven Korales in Sinhalese, 3) Pilimatalavuva, second Adigar and Disawe of Sabragamuwa in Tamil, 4) Pilimatalavuva, Disawe of four Korales in Tamil, 5) Monorawila, Disawe of Uva in Sinhalese, 6) Ratwatte, Disawe of Matale in Tamil, 7) Molligoda, Disawe of the three Korales in Sinhalese and Tamil, 8) Dullewe, Disawe of Walpane in Sinhalese and Tamil, 9) Millewe, Disawe of Wellesse and Bintenne in Sinhalese and Tamil, 10) Galagma, Disawe of Tamankaduwa in Sinhalese, 11) Galagoda, Disawe of Nuwara-Kalawiya in Sinhalese.

There were 12 signatories to the Kandyan Convention signed in the following languages: Four signed in Tamil, Three signed in Tamil and Sinhalese and Four signed in Sinhalese. This act effectively ended the Sovereignty of the Kandy Nayakar Dynasty.

The Last Phase

According to Ananda S. Pilimatalavuva, The Kandyan Chieftains really exchanged the Nayakar Dynasty with the Windsor Dynasty of England who was of Aryan Stock replacing the wholly alien Dravidian power. The Country now began to be ruled by a government representing the King of England who was never physically present in the Kingdom. The Conversion of 1815 soon became restricted to a piece of paper and the Chieftains found their powers, ancient customs and above all Buddhism gradually restricted unlike under the native Kings. This disillusionment had to burst at some point and finally manifested itself in what came to be known as Great Uva Rebellion of Freedom (1817-1818), where nearly every section of the common peasantry along with the Bhikkhus (Buddhist Monks) and the dissatisfied nobility made one last glorious attempt to rid country of its foreign rulers.

The Union Jack (British Flag)

The Royal Standard of the Last King of the Kingdom of Kandy, the Lion Flag was lowered and the Union Jack (British Flag) was then, for the first time hoisted over Ceylon and the establishment of the British dominion in the interior was announced by a royal salute from the cannon of the city. Attention was drawn of the British garrison and all troops were under arms on the occasion of this historical and important event. This important document was listened to with profound and respectful attention by the chiefs with a marked expression of cordial assent. Although the Kandyan chiefs joined the British to get rid of King Sri Vikrama Rajasinha, they never expected the British to rule the country. They only asked British to help to drive away the King. Kandyan expected that Ehelepola would become their King. People again lost their hopes and they had no King to rule or protect them and their religion.

The British Became The Sole Rulers Of The Island

The British became the sole rulers of the island and administered the country for 133 years, until 1948. The island had Three Kingdoms, each with its own sovereignty and territorial integrity and ruled by different Kings. All three colonial powers had administered the Three Kingdoms separately until 1833. The British were the first to combine the Three Kingdoms under one administration in 1833 and called this new colony as Ceylon. On 4 February 1948, Ceylon gained Independence from British colonial rule. On 22 May 1972, with the adoption of a new constitution that ended ‘Dominion Status’, Ceylon became a republic within the Commonwealth, and the official name of the country was changed to “Free, Sovereign and Independent Republic of Sri Lanka”. In 1978, it was changed to the “Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka”.

Major Willerman

By M. B. Dassanayake – Sunday Times, January 25, 1998, Major Hillerman, one of the Governor’s staff, now appeared on the scene and was introduced to the King. The monarch spoke bitterly of the treatment that had been meted out to him by his subjects and pointing to the bruises on his arms caused by the ropes, asked if that was considered fit for a King. The Major expressed sympathies on behalf of the Governor, Sir Robert Brownrigg and the King declared that he regretted that he had not thrown himself on generous protection of the British. All his wounds and insults were received from his own people. Considering the spirit of the Kandyans unsafe and deeming it inadvisable to rush taking them through Kandy, they were brought under a strong escort, mostly for their own protection, to Colombo via Negambo (a secret route).

In Colombo The Royal Prisoners

In Colombo, the royal prisoner was entrusted to the care of Major Hook and was taken with his wives to a large Mansion over looking Beira Lake near Fort, which had been prepared for him and arranged for his comfort. On 6 March, the King and his wives were conveyed to their new residence where Colonel Kerr, the Commandant, received them with the greatest courtesy.

The Detention Chamber Of The Last King Of Kandy

King Sri Vikrama Rajasinha of Kandy was captured and taken as a royal prisoner by the British in 1815 and the King was brought to Colombo and temporarily imprisoned in a specific detention chamber and it is located close to Ceylinco building in Colombo Fort, before he was exiled to Vellore Fort in India.

The Queen’s Portrait

By a Dutch Seamstresses of Pettah designed a dress for the Queen Venkata Ranga Ammal Devi to wear for the portrait that was painted during their stay. According to Padma Edirisinghe In 1936 a beautiful portrait of Queen Venkata Ranga Ammal Devi had begun to adorn the wall calendars. (It is the same portrait that is displayed at the Colombo Museum). She is fully dressed here, in a strangely attractive blend of Western-style gown and Eastern shawl and robe. According to certain historians whose ancestors had been eyewitnesses to the famous drawing of the queen, a white artist had done it (while his wife fussed about Queen Venkata Ranaga Ammal Devi adjusting frills and drapes). They lived there for almost 11 months. When they were sent back to India there was a large crowd to witness their departure. It was with great respect and honour they were treated by the British and most of the high ranking officials accompanied them to the port.

The Royal Family Of Kandy Were Exiled To India As Political Prisoners

On 24 January 1816, the King Sri Vikrama Rajasinha with his family and Vencatasoobbarayalu Rajah were taken as political prisoners of war and they embarked at Colombo on board the H.M. Ship Cornwallis, under command of Captain O’ Brien for Madras. From Madras, they were transferred to Vellore Fort held them in captivity for long years. The King, his queens and all the Nayaka relatives of the King including male relatives were also sent to India and they were forbidden to return to the island.

By Andrew Scott – The Island, February 4, 2013, He was taken to the waterside in the Governor’s carriage and his ladies were accommodated with palanquins. They were closely veiled as they went into the boat, and during their embarkation, which took up some time the King stood by and assisted, by giving orders to his own people, with much composure and presence of mind. He was very handsomely dressed and his large trousers drawn close upon his ankles, reminded the spectators of the figure of Rajasinha, as given by Robert Knox. The King embarked with his wives and mother-in-law in the captain’s barge and the attendants followed in another with Captain Kerr and Mr Sutherlands, Secretary for Kandyan affairs. The wind was high and the boat encountered a good deal of sea in their passage to the ship. They were all taken into the ship by means of an accommodation chair. Some of the ladies were greatly alarmed, while others suffered much from sea-sickness. The King showed no indication of fear. When the King and his family arrived in South India they were carried in palanquins to Vellore, India. In Vellore, they were given a large house with servants and an allowance. Most of the items that they wanted were provided by the British. In addition, the government supplied clothing, jewels and workmen for making ornaments for the ladies. Later the King was imprisoned for 17 years at the Vellore Fort along with his companions.

In spite of all this, they became heavily in debt due to their lavish spending on luxury items. Even though this irritated the British, they were given extra money to pay off part of their debt. Their descendants at present are in need of help because they were left with nothing when the King died.

King Sri Vikrama Rajasinha Died In Vellore Fort

King Sri Vikrama Rajasinha died of dropsy in Vellore Fort at about 3.00 P.M. on 30 January 1832, at the age of 52 years. At the desire of the family the body was conveyed to the place of burning before sunset, under the escort of a military guard and accompanied by his male relatives and servants. After the body was cremated, the ashes were floated down the river.

Late King Sri Vikrama Rajasinha’s Only Son Was Born In Exile

King Sri Vikrama Rajasinha had a son born in exile to his third wife Muttu Kannamma Devi Degal Sami. His only son Rajadhi Rajasinha was born in exile and potential heir, died childless in 1843 in Vellore.

Sri Alagia Manawala Sinhala Raja Adopted Son

Sri Alagia Manawala Sinhala Raja (“the King of the Sinhalese”) a grandson, a son of their daughter was adopted by his grandmother Queen Venkata Ammal Degal Sami. The Royal Family of Nayakar Dynasty with 81 long years of glorious popular and enduring rule over the Island with absolute selflessness deprived of all Royal assets in the Palace at Kandy.

The Four Queens Passed Away In The Following Years

King Sri Vikrama Rajasinha’s four queens died in the following years Venkata Ranga Ammal died in 1852, Muttu Kannamma Devi Degal Sami in 1886, Venkata Ammal Degal Sami died in 1861 and Venkata Ranga Ammal Devi died in 1868.

The Descendants Of The Royal Family Of Kandy Still Exists In India

The existing descendants of the Royal Family of Kandy, at present they are living in Vellore, Chennai, Madurai and Andhra Pradesh in India.

The Descendants Of King Sri Rajadhi Raja Sinha (1780-1798)

King Sri Rajadhi Raja Sinha who reigned from (1780-1798), his second Queen Upendra Ammah, adopted her brother’s son named Vencatasoobbarayalu Rajah, he married Bangaruthayammal niece of King Sri Vickrema Rajasinha the last King of Kandy. Vencatasoobbarayalu Rajah adopted his grandnephew he was named K. P. Venkataswami Rajah and they had a daughter name not known.

K. P. Venkataswami Rajah

K. P. Venkataswami Rajah married Sakkana Ammal daughter of a daughter of Bangaruthayammal. They had a son named Venkataswami Kanniah Rajah, and he had two sons and four daughters, namely, Kandi Ramamurthy Rajah, Kanniah Vencatasoobbarayalu Rajah, Doraisani Ammah Kanniah, Kantha Ammah Kanniah, Suseela Ammah Kanniah and Rani Ammah Kanniah. Venkataswami Kanniah Rajah deceased on 4 October 1937. Kanniah Venkatasubbarayulu Rajah had one son and two daughters, namely, Venkatasubbarayalu Balaji Rajah born in 1977, Bharati Vencatasoobbarayalu Rajah born in 1980 and Srimathi Vencatasoobbarayalu Rajah born in 1982.

K. P. Venkataswami Rajah settled down in Chittoor, Andhra Pradesh in India, while some other relatives moved and settled in Madurai and Vellore. Ceylon government paid a regular pension for K. P. Venkataswami Rajah till his death in 1931. The pension was paid to all the members of the royal family and ranged from Rupees 63 to Rupees 600 a month. Apart from these separate provisions had been made for education, marriage, even death ceremonies and they lived like royals. Even the servants were paid a small pension.

Kandi Ramamurthy Rajah

Kandi Ramamurthy Rajah was the Great great-grandson of King Sri Rajadhi Rajah Sinha (1780-1798). Kandi Ramamurthy Rajah married Smt. Lalitha Devi and she was the daughter of Mari Nayaani Veru Zamindar of Bagalur in India. They were residing at Chittoor, in India and they had an adopted son named Mokanbabu Rajah, born in 1964, in India. Kandi Ramamurthy Rajah was residing in a rented house deposing his ancestors Palace at Kandy. He passed away on 19 March 2004 at the age of 99 years in Chittoor, India.

Pensions For The Royal Family Of Kandy Were Stopped

It came as a rude shock on 1 October 1964, when the pensions were stopped by the Finance Minister of Ceylon Dr N. M. Perera, without paying any compensation for their future sustenance. According to Sunday Mail, Sridevi Sundararajan, By the time the pensions stopped almost every member of the royal family had been educated and was employed. Kandi Ramamurthy Rajah after completing his education had joined the Indian Government Railways as a ticket collector and then worked in the South Central Railways. He was able to get the Railway job on Political background. Because he was employed and therefore had no time to collect the documents about the family. But after his retirement in 1981, he found them in a trunk in his brother-in-law’s home. Since then his sole mission had been to dash off letters to the governments in Delhi and Colombo and also to the British Government because they are very humane and considerate. After all, it is they who exiled the last King Sri Vikrama Rajasinha of Kandy.

The Sri Lanka Government is not interested in giving him any pension. The concerned authorities express their inability to accede to the request for a pension as prayed for by the Kandi Ramamurthy Rajah by his mercy petition as there is no provision in the Minutes of Pensions to pay a pension to him, says a communication dated July 4, 1988, and that was the end of it.

The British maintain that they no longer have any responsibility. The Indian Government says it is a matter for the Sri Lanka Government, while they, in turn, say it is the concern of the Indian Government. The members of the Kandy Royal Family remains in exile and is now reduced to a state of poverty and distress.

A Memorandum By Late Kandi Ramamurthy Rajah

A Memorandum by Kandi Ramamurthy Rajah, the Great great-grandson of King Sri Rajadhi Rajah Sinha (1780-1798). The real connection of the South Indian Kings of Madurai Dynasty with Sri Lankan Nation (1739-1815) and the woes of the Descendants in the land of exile India.

At a time no queen was available in the Island of Sri Lanka from “Surya Vamsa” the last Sinhalese King Sri Vira Parakrama Narendrasinha, fetched princess Udumala Devi as his Queen from the South Indian Nayak King’s family of Madurai Dynasty (1707-1739). (Vide sessional paper XXII 1927 of Sri Lankan document page – 9 – the pedigree of Madurai Dynasty Kandy).

As per “Mahavamsa” of Historical document of Sri Lanka when the last Sinhalese King who died without any lawful issue his Queen’s brother of South Indian prince took the name of Sri Vijaya Rajasinha and was adorned as victorious king (1739-1747).

When this victorious king was dead again his Queen’s brother Sri Kirthi Sri a Prince of great beauty and youth became Supreme King (1747-1780).

After Kirthi Sri Raja Sinha’s death, his younger brother Sri Rajadhi Raja Sinha was anointed King over Sri Lanka (1780-1798).

Thereupon Sri Vickrama Rajasinha a firm man Sri Rajadhi Raja Sinha’s (wife’s) sister’s son became the ruler over the Island (1798-1815).

The last South Indian Nayak King Sri Vickrama Rajasinha fell a victim to a treacherous coup hatched by two of his nobles who went over to the British Traders in Colombo let them in by the back door contributing total wipeout of the Nayak Dynasty of Kandy over the Island and aided the British to establish colonial rule in 1815.

The entire Nayak King’s family were taken as political prisoners of war by the British shipped to Madras in 1816 and thereafter transferred to Vellore Port now in Tamilnadu held them in captivity for long years.

It is very interesting to know that the South Indian Nayak King’s who were living somewhere in the Madurai Kingdom were called on to the Kandyan throne by the Nobles of Kandyan Royal Court when it fell vacant and the last Sinhalese King Sri Vira Parakrama Narendrasinha who died without any lawful issue and further when the nation could not secure none of the royal blood over the Island.

This sort of installation of Kings on the Kandyan throne from the South Indian Nayak family of Kings was unparalleled in the history of any nation in the world.

They were not as conquerors as that of the British who established colonial rule through treachery in 1815. After reaping the benefits of the Nayak King’s rule for 8 decades (1739-1815) the very same nobles invited the British as their kings in the place of Sri Vickrama Rajasinha who was a south Indian King. (Vide press items “The Hindu” we will remain united for over dated September, 19th 1984 and “Jayawardanes History” dated October, 13th 1984) – The Hindu.

A Royal family of Madurai Dynasty with 81 long years of glorious popular and enduring rule over the Island with absolute selflessness deprived of all Royal assets in the palace at Kandy (i.e) Suburb ceremonial Throne, Crown, Golden staff and Sword of state at the time of their unjust exilement to India by the British. They are now displayed in the Colombo Museum.

The colonial Government of Ceylon had sympathized with the Kandyan exiles rescinded ordinance No. 5 in 1869 affording distinguished citizenship to return to their native country. But my ancestors could not at this distance of long period and circumstances consider proper or appropriate to migrate and further complicate their destiny.

In recognition nobility of Royal Family the colonial Government of Ceylon was pleased to sanction a meagre pension in the manner of captives which was hardly sufficient to lead a hand to mouth existence and not to speak of dignity. Status befitting our Royal ancestry. The several memorials prepared by my ancestors to the colonial Government for liberal financial assistance to facilitate to lead a dignified life before the public met with no response.

As an early as in 1927, the Ceylon Government was pleased to appoint a special committee to enquire the living conditions of Kandyan exiles in India. The said special committee made specific recommendations that it would be fit settling the problems of Kandyan exiles by purchasing one or three estates in Madras state at the cost of Ceylon Government to seize their connections once and forever. This noble gesture of Ceylon Government was even appreciated by the press, “The Madras Mail” dated 07-10-1927, Quoting, “Ceylon Observer” and “The Hindu”, dated 27-10-1927.

Though the recommendations of special committee appointed at the instances of Ceylon Government had to be implemented and the scheme was thwarted and foiled due to racial prejudice voiced by the following council members via Mr. Edward, Mr. W. Perera, Mr. C. W. W. Kanagara, Mr. C. W. W. Rambukawalle and Mr. D. B. Jayathilaka, (vide sectional paper XIII-1929 para 4 with regarding to the racial discrimination report of Kandyan Pensioner’s committee drafted by the Council Members as follows (“These Kings belonged to South Indian Nayaka families unconnected by blood with the Sinhalese race”).

The opinion of Sinhalese council members comprised in Majority in the Parliament only prevailed and the Royal Exiles was deprived of a fair and reasonable deal. Had this magnanimous scheme been implemented our living conditions would be in green colours lived in Royal Splendour. As my grandfather Shri K. P. Venkataswamy Rajah as a grandson of Sri Rajadhi Rajah Sinhala King of Kandy getting political pension and educational allowances from the Ceylon Government and were stopped from 01-10-1964 by the present Lankan Government without paying any compensation for their future sustenance.

After my family conditions have been worsened I submitted several petitions to the Presidents of Sri Lanka seeking only to rehabilitate our family by awarding relief fund on humanitarian grounds. But I have been given optimistic hopes by the Presidential Secretariat Colombo and the High Commissions for Sri Lanka at New Delhi and Madras without any positive solution.

At present,the descendant of Great-grandson of Sri Rajadhi Rajah Sinhala King of Kandy had been left in the lurch without any aid from the Sri Lanka Government even after recognising his existence as the present surviving member of Kandyan Royal family residing in Andhra Pradesh.

Rajah, Kandi Ramamurthy Rajah, Great great-grandson of Sri Rajadhi Rajah Sinha King of Kandy, Sri Lanka, Narasingarayanipeta, Chittoor District, Andhra Pradesh.

Ceylon Government Invited The Grandsons Of The Last King Of Kandy

However later Ceylon Government invited two grandsons of King Sri Vikrama Rajasinha, if they agreed to come and reside in Sri Lanka with promise of suitable employment and other benefits. One of the grandsons was well-groomed and had a impressive personality. According to Kandi Ramamurthy Rajah, the story of two youths K. G. Yogananda Rajah and K. G. Sukku Rajah stayed in Ceylon. The first one K. G. Yogananda Rajah was provided with an ointment in the Central Bank of Ceylon in foreign exchange section. While he was visiting India on a holiday trip he alighted at Madras. He went to Marina Beach to take a sea bathe and he was caught in a sea wave and died. The second one K. G. Sukku Rajah was Press Reporter for a Tamil Newspaper connected with Reuters. He was involved in a forgery case in foreign export permit and was charge-sheeted imprisoned. He then was asked to leave the Island. He lead a life of a destitute and was left in the wilderness and expired.

Muthu Mandapam (Pearl Place) In Vellore

The Muthu Mandapam (Pearl Place) is a memorial built around the Samadhi (tombstone) of King Sri Vikrama Rajasinha the last King of Kandy, by the State Government. It is situated on the bank of Palar River, just one Km. North of Vellore town and only in 1983 his cemetery was found. His Samadhi (tombstone) was erected by his great-grandson Shri A. Vikrama Rajah on 27 July 1832. The Muthu Mandapam construction was started on 27 April 1990 and on 1 July 1990,it was inaugurated by the then Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu Hon. M. Karunanidhi. Also there are some photographs and information about the dynasty.

The Royal Standard Of The Kingdom Of Kandy

The Royal Standard of the Mahanuwara Rajadhaniya, the last Monarch of Ceylon, King Sri Vickrama Rajasinha (1798-1815). In the centre of the Royal Standard is the heraldic Lion standing holding a Sword upright by its right paw on a Reddish background, and Four Spearheads (Mura-auda), one in each corner.

According to T. M. G. S. Silva (Ancient Flags of Sri Lanka) In September 1803 when Sri Wickrama Rajasingha was surpassed at Hanwella he left 2 flags out of which one was taken away by Captain William Pollack. After Governor Brownrigg defeated King Sri Wickrama Rajasingha the royal throne and the royal seal was taken by the British on February 25th 1815. Sri Wickrama Rajasingha’s flag was later transferred by the East India Company in agreement with King William-IV of England to the Royal Hospital Chelsea in London (1835).

From 1815 till 1948 people of Sri Lanka had to treat the Union Jack as their National flag. Other than the Union Jack, a colonial flag was also used. During the early period of British Administration,the heroic people of Lanka waged many a struggle to regain freedom from the British. In early 20th century agitational movements began and spread into many parts of Asia. Finally the British Empire had to listen to the voice of the people of Asia.

Sri Lanka’s self-rule started in 1947 August with a general election, electing D. S. Senanayaka as the first Prime Minister of Sri Lanka. The first Independence Day celebrations were already planned on a grand scale but up to this time,the government of D. S. Senanayaka had not decided about the flag to be hoisted in place of the Union Jack.

Mudliyar A Sinnalebbe, Member of Parliament for Batticoloa moved the following motion “This house is in the opinion that the Royal standard of King Sri Wickrama Rajasingha depicting a yellow lion passant holding a sword in its right paw on a red background which was removed to England after convention of 1815, should once again be adopted as the official flag of Lanka”. A. E. Goonesingha Member of Parliament seconded the motion.

In the early years of the 20th century two Lankan students studying in England, E. W. Perera and D. R. Wijewardena obtained a picture of the lion flag and included it in a book titled “Sinhala Banners and Standards” compiled by the former. In the introduction to the book he described how the royal standard of Sri Lankan Rajasinghe was found.

“While in London in 1908 I attempted to trace the Sinhala royal flag, from a statement made by Bennet that the Banner of the last king of Kandy was deposited a White hall, together with the eagle of Napoleon. The search at the United Service Museum was fruitless. A gleam of hope raised by a statement of an official of that institution that some of the flags had been removed to Chelsea hospital was dispelled the next morning by positive assurance that no Kandyan flags were among the number. Soon afterwards I discovered the missing banner quite unexpectedly at the Chelsea hospital, acting upon a suggestion of the late Lord Stanmore who evinced a lively interest on the subject. The writer visited that institution and rewarded with the discovery of three Sri Lankan Banners. A coloured key-plate on the wall led to the Great hall, along with other standard and the eagle of Napoleon.”

The royal flag which was found at the Chelsea hospital was copied in colour by Messers South wood and Co. (M/S Southwood & Co., of Regent Street), for D. R. Wijewardena who gave permission to E. W. Perera to use it in the book.

The Throne Of The Mahanuwara Rajadhaniya

The ancient throne used by the Kings of Kandy, when the last King of Kandy, was deposed in 1815, the golden throne was removed from Kandy to Colombo. The royal throne was a very elaborate large armchair. It was later shipped to England by Governor Brownrigg and was preserved in Windsor Castle for many years. In 1934 during Governor Stubbs’s time the regalia confiscated by the British in 1815 and taken to England were returned. The golden throne was subsequently returned to Ceylon and ceremonially handed over by the Duke of Gloucester on 23 September 1934.

The Throne of the Kings of Kandy, By M. B. Dassanayake – The Island, January 31, 2004, It is about five feet high at the back, three in breadth, and two in-depth; the frame is of wood, entirely covered with thin gold sheeting (studded with precious stones), the exquisite taste and workmanship of which does not constitute the least of its beauties, and may vie with the best modern specimens of the works of goldsmiths. The most prominent and striking features in this curious relic are two golden lions or sphinxes, forming the arms of the throne or chair, of a very uncouth appearance, but beautifully wrought – the heads of the animals being turned outwards in a peculiarly graceful manner. The eyes are formed of entire amethysts, each rather larger than a musket ball. Inside the back, near the top, is a large golden sun from which the founder of the Kandyan monarchy is supposed to have derived his origin; beneath, about the centre of the chair, and in the midst of some sunflowers, is an immense amethyst, about the size of a large walnut; on either side is a female deity in a sitting posture, of admirable design and workmanship; the whole encompassed by a moulding formed of bunches of cut crystal set in gold; there is a space around the back (without the moulding) studded with large amethysts on each side, and six more at the top. The seat inside the arms, and halfway up the back, is (or rather was) lined with red velvet, all torn or decayed.

It should be observed that the throne behind is covered with the finest wrought silver; at the top of a large embossed half-moon of silver, surmount the stars, and below all is a bed of silver sun-flowers. It is said that the throne was presented to King Vimala Dharma Suriya (II) by Governor Thomas van Rhee in the year 1693. There is a reference in the Dutch Council Proceedings of October 1692, to a number of articles collected from various quarters by Thomas van Rhee for the King of Kandy. In the list of gifts is one throne with its accessories. The actual origin of the throne is still in doubt. It is probable that it was made either in Colombo by Sinhalese workmen under Dutch supervision or in one of the Dutch settlements in India.

The Footstool

The Footstool, ten inches in height, a foot broad and two and a lf feet long the top was Crimson silk worked with gold and studded with precious stones. A moulding of cut Crystals runs around the sides of it, beneath which, in front are flowers studded with fine Amethysts and Crystals.

The Crown

The Crown eight cornered diadems surmounted with the Royal Malgaha (Tree of Flowers). On the Eight corners are blue and pink plumes and is ornate with DiamondsEmeraldsRubies and Pearls. According to John M. Senaveratna, (Royalty in Ancient Ceylon During the Period of the great dynasty), The description of the crown of the last King of Kandy: “The King of Kandy’s Crown of a very singular but tasteful form, gold, with projecting angles, from which are suspended ornaments of table diamonds, small rubies, and round the circle, which embraces rubies, which screw on; on the top is an ornamental tuft of gold and pearls and in front attaches an enameled gold ornament of great beauty in the form of a plume covered with table diamondsemeralds and rubies, the centre ruby of a very large size forming altogether a singularly splendid and costly mark of royalty.” Catalogue of the Regalia of the King of Kandy. Printed by W. Smith, King Street (London), 1820.

The Sceptre

The Sceptre was red of iron, with a gold head, an extraordinary but just emblem of his government.

The Royal Sword

The handle of the Sword is of a peculiar design with a Cobra. The Sword and the Sceptre are studded with a number of small Rubies. The golden hilt of the sword was studded with small Red stones and a Diamond at the end. The Golden Throne, Crown, the Sceptre and the Royal sword are displayed in the National Museum in Colombo.

The Royal Regalia Of The King Of Kandy Sold By Auction In London On 13 June 1820

According to Crowns and Colonies: European Monarchies and Overseas Empires by Robert Aldrich, Cindy McCreery, The British came into possession of the throne and possibly the crown during the overthrow of Vikrama Rajasinha; Ehelepola, hoping one day to don the crown himself, appears to have been instrumental in their acquisition. Soldiers confiscated the King’s sword and sword-belt when he was captured, and several tore earrings of the queens. With the pillage of the royal palace, the British procured more of the King’s treasury. Some items no doubt remained in private possession, but a large horde arrived in Britain – under what conditions remains unknown and were sold at public auction in London in 1820, the items detailed in a ‘catalogue of a splendid and valuable collection of jewellery, forming the regalia of the King of Kandy, the whole of the purest massive gold’. Among the items were armour, armlets and bracelets, gemstones, a dagger, gold buttons, rings, shells, boxes, chains, a jewelled chair and other objects, which, the catalogue said, euphemistically, had been presented by His Majesty to the captors for whose benefit they will be sold.


According to Sunday Times, September 24, 2006, Compulsory service known as Rajakariya was prevalent in Sri Lanka ever since the monarchy was established in the Anuradhapura period. It was a service done free for the king. In other words the king forced the people to work for him without payment. Rajakariya was used in the construction of the huge irrigation tanks. Certain services were based on caste. By the time of the Kandyan era, the people were very unhappy with this system. The building of the Kandy Lake and the Pattirippuwa (octagonal tower) around 1806 A.D, were done using forced labour. They added greatly to the beauty of the Kandy town. But the people felt they were done at the cost of much suffering to them and increased the unpopularity of the king. Temple lands were exempted from this service. By the 17th and 18th centuries, Rajakariya was used for public works such as the construction of roads, bridges and tanks. During the British administration, they too used the system to their advantage. They made it more efficient and more profitable. However, certain officials viewed it as obnoxious to British principles of justice. Ultimately Rajakariya was abolished on September 28, 1832 during Governor Sir Robert Wilmot Horton’s time.

The Royal Palace Of The Mahanuwara Rajadhaniya

The Royal Palace of the Mahanuwara Rajadhaniya (Kingdom of Kandy) was the last Royal Residence of King Sri Vikrama Rajasinha (1798-1815). The Palace is situated to the North of the Dalada Maligawa Temple in Kandy. The first Royal Palace in Senkadagala was built by King Vickramabahu III of Gampola (1357-1374) on the advice of a Brahmin who selected the site as a lucky ground for a Capital city. The original palace has been burnt and destroyed several times and it was rebuilt by subsequent kings. In ancient times the Royal Palace was called “Maha Wasala” or “Maligawa”. The section of the Royal Palace facing the Natha Devale is said to be the oldest part. During King Vimala Dharma Suriya I (1592-1603) was also his royal residence and he made various improvements to the Royal Palace.

During the reign of King Senarat (1603-1634), the Portuguese attacked the Kingdom of Kandy and destroyed the Royal Palace. King Rajasinghe II who ascended to the throne in 1637 rebuilt it and all the subsequent kings used this as their Royal Residence. After the British invasion in 1815 the Royal Palace of the Kingdom of Kandy was used by the British Government Agent Sir John D’Oyly and his successors have continued to use it as their official residence. Only the front entrance of the royal palace with a few buildings remaining and today it is preserved as an archaeological museum.

The Remains Of The Royal Palace

Palle Wasala where the Queens stayed and “Meda Wasala” (Middle Place) where the other close relatives of the King lived. The queen’s chambers, quarters of the royal concubines, the council chamber and the armoury are now being used as museums depicting the exhibits of the Kandyan era.

See Meduru Kavuluwa

See Meduru Kavuluwa, from this observation window the King can view to all directions to see the Queens Palace, Dalada Maligawa, the City and Udawatta Kele Sanctuary (Uda Wasala Watta) at the same time.

The Ulpange

Ulpange (Queens Bathing Pavilion) which stands on the edge of the Kandy Lake and this was part of the palace complex. After the British invading the forces capture of the city, this was converted to a library and it is currently used as a police post.

The Royal Audience Hall

Magul Maduwa (the Royal Audience Hall) where the King met his ministers and carried out his daily administrative tasks. It was also known as the “Maha Naduwa” (High Court) by the local residents as it was used by the King as the court. The construction of this finely carved wooden structure was commenced by King Rajajdhi Raja Sinha in 1783 and was unable to complete it within his reign. But during the reign of King Sri Vikrama Rajasinha (1798-1815) the Audience Hall construction was completed in 1784 with richly carved columns of wood can be considered as the living examples of the Kandyan Craftsmanship.

A number of key events has taken place and one of the major historical event was handing over the last Kingdom of Kandy to the British throne ending over 2500 years of the sovereignty. In 1815 the signing of the Kandy Convention (Udarata Givisuma) took place in this Audience Hall between the British and the Kandyan Chieftains. The British handed over the death sentence to Sri Lankan patriots, Madugalle Disave and to Keppatipola Disave at this place.

Sri Dalada Maligawa

Sri Dalada Maligawa (the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic) is located in the city of Kandy and it was built within the Royal Palace complex. Since ancient times, the Tooth Relic has played an important role in local politics because it is believed that who was in possession of the Tooth Relic had claim to the throne. The Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic was founded in 1595 by King Vimaladharmasuriya (I) (1592-1603). The sacred Tooth Relic was received by King Vimaladharmasuriya (I), with great veneration and placed in the new three-storied shrine built by him near the royal palace. The Dutch Plan of 1765 shows the ground plans of two shrines. The one at the back should be the original one built by the king. His successor was Senarat (1603-1634), a cousin brother of the deceased king had to face severe opposition from the contenders. He had to live in such distant places as Mahiyangana. He was able take the Tooth Relic to a safe location at Madamahanuvara in the hills enveloped with thick forest cover. Even under these difficult conditions, King Senarat was able to give due honor to the sacred Tooth Relic by placing it in a suitable shrine. Kandy city is a world heritage site declared by UNESCO, in part due to the temple.

Bogambara Wewa

Bogambara Wewa (Kandy Lake) also known as “Kiri Muhuda” (the Sea of Milk) and it is situated in the heart of the hill city of Kandy. It was built in 1807 by King Sri Vikkrama Rájasinha. The Lake is surrounded by a decorative wall called “Walakula Bamma” (Clouds Wall) due to its shape, which was built to increase the beauty of the Kandy Lake. In the Center of the Lake is the island called “Kiri Samudraya” (Milk white ocean), it was used by the King’s as the royal summer house and was connected to the palace by secret tunnel.

The Udawatta Kele

Udawatta Kele Sanctuary was known as Uda Wasala Watta (Garden situated above the Royal Palace). It was established in 1856 and it became a sanctuary in 1938. The sanctuary is famous for its extensive avifauna and bird watching site. During the Kandyan Kings it was used as a pleasure garden. The forest was reserved for the Members of the Royal Family and the pond was located in the forest and was used for bathing.

Traditional Udarata Mul Anduma

During the ancient times only the Kings and his immediate family members had the privilege of wearing elegant attire. The Royal attire was specially made by tailors who came from South India and they kept the art of making these distinctive clothing styles a secret. The king had worn the Atamulu Thoppiya (eight cornered hat) a kind of hat, brim raised with eight protruding points with a jacket of long loose, frilly sleeves and dhoti, trousers that stuck close to the ankle at the bottom but were slack and baggy up.

In the palace,the ministers and other officials also had uniforms reflecting their designations and the status in the society, but the clothes they wore were much less exclusive and more ordinary than the attire used by the royal family. The original Udarata Mul Anduma (the first dress) signifies a royal and majestic personality. The dress was originated in 1815 during the Nayaka Dynasty and it was worn by the Kandyan aristocracy. The original Mul Anduma comprised seven items to be worn around the waist. It is a very chief as well as an aggressive form of attire a velvet jacket, Kandyan Jewellery, a ring, a carved knife and “Atamulu Thoppiya” (four corners elaborated headgear) make the wearer feel like a knight of yore. The Mul Anduma dress later faded away. However,they continued even up to date with generations of Saluwadana Ralalas (Officer in charge of the King’s Robes).


According to Nira Wickramasinghe, The Osariya (Kandyan Sari) influence of the later Nayakar Dynasty on the Kandyan throne led to a consequent modification in dress in the Kandyan provinces: the Osariay style of Sari was widely adopted by Kandyan upper-class women. The Sari in its Kandyan form, or Osariya which was considered an adequate dress for the Sinhalese women, was promoted by lay preachers throughout the country as the true Sinhalese dress, a morally acceptable dress because it covered the entire body. The main reason for the choice of the Osariya as the national dress was its Kandyan origin. In the view of the reformists, which was a mirror image of the colonial reading of Kandyan culture, the Kandyan kingdom, though its historical insulation, had protected its purity-in contrast to the Low Country that had been subjected to a spectrum of cultural influences. The Osariya was seen not only as the ‘moral dress’, but also as the authentic, unspoiled and ‘pure’ dress of the Sinhalese, and this in spite of its appearance in Sri Lanka during the Nayakar period.

Kandyan Jewellery

Historically a greater part of the Kandyan Jewellery originated from South India. Kandyan jewellery is handmade and was designed specifically for the Royal Families. It carries symbols of wealth, prosperity, grandeur, strength, well being, solidarity, passion and valour. Traditional Kandyan Jewellery has been customarily used by the aristocracy with pride and prestige. Kandyan Jewellery was worn by both men and women. The men wore Gold chainsPendantsGirdles and Rings. Women too wore ChainsPendantsGirdles and Rings in addition to Earrings and Bracelets. The “Nalalpata (Headband) is attractive and significant. It is a gold gem-studded forehead plate, traditionally worn by the King and those in his Court. The Nalalpata was tied to the forehead of a young Prince during the ceremony naming and assuming the Royal Sword.

Kandyan Dance

The Kandyan Dance and music was Dravidian in origin. According to C. Sivaratnam (The Tamils in Early Ceylon), There is evidence of the incorporation of some elements of the Katha-kali of Kerala, some poses and sounds of steps of the Bharatanatyam of Tamil Nadu and the use of Bharatanatyam terminology in the science of the Kandyan dance.

Due to its historical importance, People of the Kingdom of Kandy are proud of their royal heritage and they uphold Buddhist values. The Kandyan people still follow their customs and traditions.

About editor 3047 Articles
Writer and Journalist living in Canada since 1987. Tamil activist.

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