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Mahawalatenna Walawwa | Birthplace of World's First Female Prime Minister

Mahawalatenna Walawwa (Sinhala: මහවලතැන්න වලව්ව) is a mansion located in Mahawalathenna village in Ratnapura District, Sri Lanka. It is the birthplace of Sirima Ratwatte Dias Bandaranaike (b.1916-d.2000), the first female Prime Minister in the world.

Folklore says that Mahawalatenne Maha Adikaram built a mansion at this place over 200 years ago after seeing a miraculous incident - a hare chasing a fox- that happened here (Abeyawardana, 2002). It is said that this incident led him to believe that this was an auspicious site for the construction of a residence (Abeyawardana, 2002). However, the authenticity of this story is low since the same legend is found in several other places in the country.

The present mansion at the site was constructed in 1902 by Samuel David Mahawalatenna following a plan designed by an English architect (Abeyawardana, 2002). Rosmund Mahawalatenna, one of the daughters of Samuel David Mahawalatenna was married to Barnes Ratwatte (b.1883-d.1957), the father of Sirima Ratwatte who in 1940 was married to S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike (b.1899-d.1959), the son of Solomon Dias Bandaranaike of Horagolla Walawwa in Gampaha. S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike became the fourth Prime Minister of the Dominion of Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) in 1956 and served until his assassination at Rosmead Walawwa in 1959. After his death, Sirima Ratwatte was elected the Prime Minister of the country in 1960.

The mansion
The mansion consists of an open verandah, a sitting room and four large bedrooms (Abeyawardana, 2002). The arch of the sitting room is said to have been made out of granite (Abeyawardana, 2002).

1) Abeyawardana, H.A.P., 2002. Heritage of Sabaragamuwa: Major natural, cultural and historic sites. Sabaragamuwa Development Bank and The Central Bank of Sri Lanka. ISBN: 955-575-077-7. p.28.

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This page was last updated on 3 September 2023

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