Giragama Walawwa in Kandy – මහනුවර ගිරාගම වලව්ව

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Giragama Walawwa after restoration

Giragama Walawwa after restoration
Photo by Gajanatha Kobbekaduwe

On the intersection of the Colombo Street and the Yatinuwara Veediya (B519) in the Kandy city lies the Giragama Walawwa, a mansion build in 1814 and considered as the oldest walawwa building within the Kandy.

During the Kandyan era, Walawwas’ were the residences of the top officials of the kingdom, and only these residences consisted of clay floors, roof tiles and painted walls. It was only with special permission from the king that a person could tile their roofs and paint their houses. All other citizens lived in houses built with wattle and daub and the roofs were either hay or coconut leaves.

Giragama Walawwa or the Giragama Nilame is not well known like the names of Ahelapola, Pilimathalawe or Molligoda Nilames but Giragama Ralahami has been the chief Disawe on the Satara Korale in 1714.  In 1818 he was captured by the British for conspiring the overthrow the British and sent to Colombo where he died in captivity. Another decedent,  called Giragama Nilame became the Basnayake Nilame of the Dalada Maligawa (Temple of Tooth Relic) between 1882 to 1897. He too has used this walawwa as his official residence.

According to a British town plan of 1915, this building has been identified as H.A.H. Habbu Lebbe building. By this time this walawwa has been sold by a daughter of the Giragama Nilame to a muslim merchant and migrated from the country. The walawwa has been converted to a commercial establishment by 1915.

Giragama Walawwa before restoration

Giragama Walawwa before restoration
Photo by Senanayaka Bandara

In the central part of the building is a wooden tower, which is unique to this  building and can not be found in other Walawwas throughout the country. Archaeologists believe that tower could be some kind of a “watch tower” or a “security tower” used by the early residents.  Giragama Walawwa was declared as a protected archaeological monument in 2005 and had been neglected and in a state of despair by the turn of century. Finally in 2014, restoration of the building started and was completed in 2015.

Also See

Map of  Giragama Walawwa

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The map above also shows other places of interest within a approximately 20 km radius of the current site. Click on any of the markers and the info box to take you to information of these sites.

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Travel Directions to Giragama Walawwa

Route from Kandy Railway Station t0 Giragama Walawwa
Distance :  500 km
Travel time :  5  mins
Driving directions : see on google map

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