Hanwella Fort – හංවැල්ල බලකොටුව

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Hanwella Dutch Fort

17th century Dutch map of Hanwella Fort

From very early times to later periods when foreign powers such as the Portuguese, Dutch and British arrived in Sri Lanka, Hanwella was one of the main travel routes used for crossing the river to precede to Kandy. The old ford (Thotupola) used to cross the river may be the one still used which is next to the Rest House at Hanwella.

In 1521 when King Mayadunne (1521 – 1581 A. D.) started the Sitawaka Kingdom at Avissawella he fortified Hanwella to guard against the Kotte Kingdom and the Portuguese Invaders who were occupying the Fort of Colombo.

At the end of the Sitawaka Kingdom in 1594 A. D., the Portuguese captured Sitawaka and started a Fortress at Hanwella in 1597 A.D., using the European architecture for a Fortress.

Remains at the Rest House

Remains at the Rest House

The Dutch who landed in Sri Lanka in 1602 A. D captured Hanwella Fortress from the Portuguese and they constructed a larger and more beautiful fortress using “Kabok” (latte rite) and completed the Fortress in 1684 A.D.

After 1786 Hanwella Fortress came under the British rule and several battles with the Armies of the Kings of Kandy took place around the Hanwella Fortress.

In the reports of Percival in 1800 it is mentioned that a Rest House had been constructed in the Hanwella Fortress.

Commemorative Plate

Commemorative Plate

On 17th December 1875 King Edward the VII, Prince of Wales, has planted a Jack Tree (Artocarpus Hetaropilus) which is still growing at the Rest House premises. There are two stone seats around the Jack Tree, used by the Royalty who attended the ceremony of planting the Jack Tree. This Jack Tree is growing even today.

Hanwella has been used from early Anuradhapura period as a Ford for crossing Kelani River and later a Fort has been constructed at the site for the security of the ford.

The Rest House there the fort was

The Rest House there the fort was

After the death of King Vijayabahu VI (1518 – 1521 A. D.) the Kotte Kingdom was divided into three Kingdoms and King Mayadunne, the Youngest of the royal family started the Kingdom at Sitawa in 1521 and ruled till 1594 A. D. He started a Fortress at Hanwella.

Later after the end of the Sitawaka Kingdom in 1594 A. D., the Portuguese took control of the Hanwella Fort and later the Dutch took control from them and constructed a larger Fort according to a plan. The British captured it from the Dutch.

The remains of the Fort could be seen at the Rest House site, with a large Jack Tree (Artocarpus Hetaropilus) planted by King Edward VII, to commemorate his visit to Ceylon in December 1875 and two seats constructed for the Royal Family are to be seen near the Jack Tree.

These ruins of the Fort could be seen today in the Rest House premises.

Source : http://seethawaka.ps.gov.lk/tourism.html

Also See

Map of  Hanwella Fort

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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.

Zoom out the map to see more surrounding locations using the mouse scroll wheel or map controls.


Traveling Directions to Hanwella Fort (Hanwella Rest House)

Route from Colombo to Hanwella Fort (Hanwella Rest House)

Though : Rajagiriya – Malabe
distance : 32 km
Travel time : 1 hour
Driving directions : see on google map

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