Saturday, April 20, 2019

Kayman's Gate Bell Tower

Kayman's Gate Bell Tower
Kayman's Gate Bell Tower is a historic belfry located in Pettah, Colombo District, Sri Lanka.

History
According to the account given in John Capper's book titled "Old Ceylon", there were two fortifications in Colombo during the Portuguese period (1505-1656) and later the Dutch occupation (1656-1796). Among the two, the inner fortress was located at the place where the present Fort (Kotuwa) stands. The other fortress which had been bounded by an outer rampart made of laterite and lime had extended as far as the Saint John's River and its rampart was stretching along the river bank till the sea coast to form the present Pettah (Pita Kotuwa).

The entrance gate and the bell tower located at the eastern approach to the fort was known at the time as Kayman's Gate and from where the wooded hills of Wolfendhal Church and Hulftsdorp could be seen in the distance. The name "Kayman's Gate" has come from the Dutch word Caiman (meaning: crocodile). It is said that the crocodiles, at that period found in the Beira Lake, were coming to this place to eat the garbage thrown out by the city dwellers.

The bell which is hanging in the upper part of the present tower is said to be belonged to the 16th century A.D. (Corea, 1988).  It was originally hung at a Portuguese church dedicated to Saint Francis, which once stood in the Royal City of Kotte (Corea, 1988). After taking over Colombo by Dutch, the bell was found amidst the ruins by them and was set up on the belfry at Kayman's Gate.

A protected monument
The old Dutch belfry located at Kayman's Gate in Pettah in the Divisional Secretary Division of Colombo is an archaeological protected monument, declared by a government Gazette notification published on 21 January 2000.

References
1) Corea, I., 1988. Glimpses of Colombo. Colombo Municipal Council. p.127.
2) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. No: 1116. 21 January 2000.
3) The notice board at the site by the Department of Archaeology and the Ministry of National Heritage. 

Location Map

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