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4/5

The Last King's Jail Cell

No. 69, Janadhipathi Mawatha Colombo 01

  • Open Daylight hours, depends on the security guard


This tiny memorial to Sri Wickrama Rajasingha in the Ceylinco parking lot is a quirky destination.



Perhaps Colombo's quirkiest landmark, the jail cell of the last King of Kandy - Sri Vikrama Rajasinha - is in the parking lot of the Ceylinco building.

It's quite easy to miss, where Janadipathi Mawatha meets the Dutch Hospital, but it's there, usually with trishaws parked next to it. When the King was deposed and England took over the country, the King and his wife were deported to India (where he died). In between, it's said that he was detained here.

The Cell

As a place to stay, we wouldn't recommend this. The structure is maybe the size of two trishaws and not very comfy.

The interior contains portraits of the former King and Queen, and some of his accomplishments and what he's remembered for. King Rajasinha didn't build the Temple Of The Tooth (that was Vira Parakrama Narendra Sinha), but he did build the moat and the Patthirippuwa - the octagonal structure which is the first thing you see walking up. Even more impressively, he also constructed the artificial Kandy Lake outside.

His royal standard is also the core of the current national flag.

You can only view these images through bars.

The King

The King himself was a Telugu Buddhist who spoke Tamil, previously known as Prince Kannasamy in Madurai. The last Sinhalese king of Kandy (Vira Parakrama Narendra Sinha, who build the Temple Of The Tooth) married two princesses from Madurai, as was common custom among royals. When he died without legitimate issue, the kingdom passed to his brother-in-law.

This king - Sri Vijaya Rajasinha - was a staunch defender of Buddhism (despite being a Hindu) and when he died he again passed power to his own brother-in-law, also from the Madurai royal family, which had by this point lost their kingdom in India.

That king - Kirti Sri Rajasinha - passed power to his brother, Rajadhi Rajasinha. King Rajadhi Rajasinha died without naming a successor, so the scheming, Frank Underwood type Prime Minister Pilimatalava suggested the late king's nephew. That was Sri Vikrama Rajasinha, and how he became king when he was barely 18 years old. He was the last of the Nayak kings of Kandy, and the last king ever.

Sri Vikrama inherited a kingdom which was under threat from the British externally and from rampant intrigue within his own court. Still, he managed to rule for 17 years, but it got bumpy near the end.

His Prime Minister (Adigar) Pilimatalava was always plotting for the throne and - after that fellow was executed - his nephew Ehelepola became Prime Minister. When Ehelepola rebelled and fled to the British side, King Sri Vikrama quite brutally killed his whole family. That lost him some popular/noble support and by the time the British invaded they were able to enter Kandy unopposed.

After that, the King was briefly held here and then deported to Vellore, India where he died in 1832.

The Location

Once this small room would have been close to a barracks, but now it's in the commercial center of the city. It's in the shadow of the World Trade Center towers and the Bank Of Ceylon tower and right next to the Kingsbury Hotel and Dutch Hospital Shopping Precinct. The monument is also literally in the Ceylinco parking lot. On any given day people will be parked there, often sleeping in their trishaws.

The monument is well maintained enough, but unless you know it's there you'd miss it. As it is, it's an interesting place to drop by if you're in the area, eating at Dutch Hospital or coming out of the Kingsbury. It's a quirky little bit of history, hidden in a parking lot.


TIP

Visit this before or after going to O Bar (Dutch Hospital). It shows that you're an impressive local.

Address

No. 69, Janadhipathi Mawatha Colombo 01

Directions

Follow the Galle Road till you get to the Kingsbury. It's on the corner (opposite side), inside the Ceylinco parking lot.

Report Inaccuracy

Open Daylight hours, depends on the security guard

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