There are curious accounts about Maduwanwela Maha Disawe (the provincial ruler of Maduwanwela) We Sri Lankans are fortunate to have such a mansion which tells us the glorious life style of majestic ruler. This place is an ideal source of information for archaeological explores. When you come from Colombo along Colombo- Rathnapura road, to get to this place you have to turn right in to Ranchamadama road (1 ½ km away from Udawalawa junction) which leads to Panamura Junction. Then you have to head towards Kolonna till you find the Mansion on your left. There are 207 km from Colombo to this Place. Mahadisawe’s grand father’s time dates back to 1700 A.D. He has supplied weapons to II king wimaladharmasooriiya. He is one Wijesundara Ekanayake. He was the person who got the Maduwanwela Land – grant as a present from the king, in order to getting him a white Sambur alive as a challenge. There is an interesting reason for being built this mansion in this place itself. One day a hare had chased a fox passing this area and the here had stopped here letting the fox run in to the jungle near by. So he decided this place to be a victorious site. Then he had taken a decision to build his residence here.
After his death Disawe’s father; muddier (Mudali) inherited the mansion and he added tiles to the roof in 1725. In addition he has built up a temple on piles 01 km away from the mansion. There are many legends how this name got Maduwanwela Walauwa According to one legend there had been many wild buffaloes in this area.
In sinhala language buffaloes are also known as “Maduwan” .Hence this area got the name Maduwanwela. Disawe’s parents had passed away when he was very young. Then he was grown up at “Narangasmada Valauwa” a residence of a relative. He was admitted to St. John collage in Mount Lavenia. After school he went back to Kolonna Korale and became “Rate Mahaththaya” the Village Headman. Then he was Promoted to the post of Maha Disawe (Provincial ruler) . He inherited the mansion with a land of 44000 acres including Maduwanwela, Panamura, Walakada, Kempane and Kolonna area. Then he married Ekneligoda Kumarihami a lady from a noble family. In turn he got a dowry of another 40,000 acres from Kuruvita Korale. Being a dynamic person he managed to keep the mansion neat and tidy. Then he made it a mansion with 121 rooms and 21 middle yards.
He built three stone arches and three watch huts and three walls in the mansion premises. Superior timber like ebony and tamarind has been used for construction work of this two story building. Water accumulates in the premises glide though an underground drainage system to Maduwanwela tank. He was a short person with a height of 04 feet and 8 inches. An enlarged photograph of him with a nicely decorated frame has been placed in the veranda. All the door frames of the residence are about 5 feet in height he was the only person who could go through the arches on horse back without hitting his head and others had to bend down when they came on horse back. Also he never cared about English people who ruled the country at that time. He didn’t respect even the queen of the England. Broken pieces of ceramic plates with the picture of the queen have been fixed on the floor in order to get them stepped on by the visitors to the residence. He had tended to attack the white people at several times. Once the English men had taken effort to destroy the mansion and they were foiled by him successfully. Responding such an effort having attacked the Katuwana fort he had brought the door and the frame of the main entrance to the fort to his residence. Even today it is used as the exit of the main hall. During the time of Mahadisawe there had been buildings belong to the mansion over 20 acre land. Foundations of them had been found at the excavations.
But today only 43 rooms and 07 middle yards are remaining. The thickness of a wall of a room is about 1.5 feet. Except sewing room there are no windows for rooms. There had been a pipe line running from the near by spring on a hillock up to the mansion. Even today we can see the bathrooms functioned using this water. Although there are no any record regarding the architect of the residence it has been built skillfully.
It is believed that there is an Indian influence of tilling work with broken pieces of plates. In Brahmadaththa royal palace of India also can be seen this kind of decorations. Not only had the picture of the queen but also valuable coins and gems been embossed on floor. But today coins and gem can’t be seen. Among the numerous kind of rooms there is a room named cool room with a marvelous natural cooling system. The Court house left to the mansion provides seating facility for 100 persons. He had tried cases here. Some of furniture and symbols he used here can be seen even today. Some of the culprits have been punished soon after the hearing by using the devices which can be seen even today. He had highly appreciated the punctuality and no excuses given for delays. Even Englishmen had been punished for delays. The residents who live in his lands should give a share of their productions to him.
He had two wives and he was the last link of that generation. Out of the two wives Kalawane Kumarihami had a daughter who was lame. She had been living for 80 years. Disawe was known as a womanizer. Low caste ladies had to pass his residence open bust. One English man who visited him without informing in advance was punished. At that time there had not been a bridge to cross over the river in Ereporuwa area. Although disawe had informed the English officers the need of a bridge they had paid no attention to the matter. English officers used to cross the river on the shoulders of the people who lived in the area. Once disawe managed to get such an officer put into water by the people tactfully. Then a bridge was constructed. Once disawe was invited to a diner by the governor of the time. All the invitees were informed to take part in this dinner in full feather. In spite of the order disawe had participated in it casually dressed. He happened to lead a ailing life in the end. Once he was undergone a minor operation without anesthesia for 7 hours in order to remove a tumor in his leg. After the surgery a by stander had asked whether he hurt. He replied “It really hurt me but if I showed my pain it would be derogatory to my nationality” This glorious person said good bye to the nation on 06 September 1930 leaving behind this splendid monument for us.
Although the mansion and its premises have been declared a reservation by the archaeological department of Sri Lanka, the neighboring people have encroached on the land for constructing dwellings and for cultivation. By the time we reached there, mansion was being renovated on the intervention of archaeological department. It is a bounden duty of ours to safeguard this historical monument in the name of future generation.
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