Saturday, February 13, 2021

Rajasinghe Guard

Rajasinghe Guard
A small structure popularly called Rajasinghe Guard is found situated within the premises of the car park of Ceylinco House building at the intersection of Janadipathi Mawatha and the Bank of Ceylon Mawatha in Colombo Fort, Sri Lanka.

Opinions
Popular view: Prison cell of Rajasinghe
According to popular belief, this is the detention chamber of King Sri Vikrama Rajasinghe (1798-1815 A.D.), the last ruler of Sri Lanka, before he was taken to India by the British (Manathunga, 2016; Rajapakshe et al., 2018). 
 
Rajasinghe was surrendered to Sir Robert Brownrigg at Bomure in Kandy on 18 February 1815 while he was hiding in a house at Udapitivala (Abeyawardana, 2004). He was brought to Colombo and temporarily imprisoned at a specific house in the Fort area. Under the supervision of Captain O' Brien, the king, his queens and others were deported to Vellore in Madras (India) on 24 January 1816 through the ship H.M.S. Cornwallis. Lived as a prisoner of war, Rajasinghe died in Madras on 30 January 1832. 
 
According to the view of R.L. Brohier, the king was not imprisoned in this chamber but in another Dutch building located near Achilan/Echelon barracks (Manathunga, 2016; Rajapakshe et al., 2018).

Academic view: A Guardroom
The academic view is that this building is a guardroom built during the British occupation period in Sri Lanka. According to R.L. Brohier, this is a guard chamber for the protection of the huge Achilan/Echelon barracks built during the British in 1875 (Manathunga, 2016; Rajapakshe et al., 2018). The present building is said to be a restored and a remodelled version of the original guardroom (Rajapakshe et al., 2018).

The building
The present building is roughly in the shape of a half-capsule. Three sides of the building are square in shape while the forth is oval. It has only one entrance facing to the north (Rajapakshe et al., 2018). Two small vertical openings are found on either side of the entrance (Rajapakshe et al., 2018). The vault-shaped roof is externally decorated in scales and a small circular ventilation duct has been built at the top of it (Manathunga, 2016). A sculptured bust of King Rajasinghe with an inscription plaque underneath is found on the back wall. The bust probably belongs to 1953 (Manathunga, 2016). Portraits of Rajasinghe, his queen, Robert Brownrigg, and Adigar Pilimatalawa are found inside the chamber (Rajapakshe et al., 2018). Two images depicting the tomb of Rajasinghe in Vellore and the ship on which Rajasinghe was deported are also found.

A protected monument
The old guard cell at the intersection of Bank of Ceylon Mawatha and the Janadhipathi Mawatha within the Ceylinco Building car park area in Colombo Fort, in the Divisional Secretary’s Division of Colombo is an archaeological protected monument, declared by a government gazette notification published on 9 February 1973.

References
1) Abeyawardana, H.A.P., 2004. Heritage of Kandurata: Major natural, cultural and historic sites. Colombo: The Central Bank of Sri Lanka. pp.107-108.
2) Manathunga, S. B., 2016. Pauranika Sthana Saha Smaraka: Kolamba Distrikkaya (In Sinhala). Department of Archaeology (Sri Lanka). ISBN: 955-9159-39-9. pp.25-26.
3) Rajapakshe, S.; Bandara, T. M. C.; Vanninayake, R. M. B. T. A. B. (Editors), 2018. Puravidya Sthana Namavaliya: Kolamba Distrikkaya (In Sinhala). Vol. I. Department of Archaeology (Sri Lanka). ISBN: 978-955-7457-19-2. p.28.
4) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, no: 10589. 16 January 1953.

Location Map
This page was last updated on 13 February 2021
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