Ehelepola Harem (Ratnapura)

The building known as Ehelepola Harem is situated in Ratnapura Town. It is believed to have been used as the harem of Ehelepola (1773-1829 A.D.)

The building known as Ehelepola Harem (Sinhala: ඇහැළේපොල අදිකාරම්ගේ අන්තඃපුර මාළිගාව) is situated near Ferguson High School premises in Ratnapura Town, Sri Lanka. It is believed to have been used as the harem of Ehelepola Nilame (1773-1829 A.D.), a courtier of the Kingdom of Kandy.


Ehelepola Nilame

Ehelapola, who held the position of Pallegampahe Adigar was the Maha Nilame from 1811 to 1814 during the reign of Sri Vikrama Rajasinha of Kandy, the last king of Sri Lanka. He joined a rebellion against King Rajasinha in the Sabaragamuva province although he was sent there by the king to conquer it. It is said that Ehelepola played a pivotal role in assisting the British in launching an invasion against the Kingdom of Kandy, leading to the overthrow of Rajasinha and the subjugation of Kandy to the British monarchy through the Kandyan Convention, an agreement signed on 10 March 1815 between the British and the Chiefs of the Kandyan Kingdom. However, some records from Sri Lankan history indicate that he collaborated with the British with the intention of later overthrowing them. Consequently, following the Great Rebellion of 1817-18, he was convicted of treason by the British and exiled in 1825 to Pamplemousses in Mauritius island. Ehelepola died on 5 April 1829, and his final rituals were done according to the Buddhist tradition.

The Building

Reflecting three distinct historical periods, Kandyan, Dutch, and British, the building embodies a blend of architectural styles. Initially constructed in the Kandyan architectural tradition, it served as a harem during the Ehelepola era. Over time, Dutch and British influences were incorporated, transforming it into a bungalow for British rulers. Currently, it serves as the district office for the Archaeological Department, preserving its historical significance while fulfilling the department's administrative works.

A Protected Building

The building believed to be the harem of Ehelepola's situated in Ratnapura town in the Ratnapura Divisional Secretary’s Division, is an archaeological protected monument, declared by a government gazette notification published on 11 November 2002.


1) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. no: 1264. 11 November 2002.
2) UDA, 2021. Ratnapura Development Plan 2021–2030. Urban Development Authority and Ministry of Urban Development & Housing. p.195.

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This page was last updated on 17 February 2024

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