Generally the colonial forts in Sri Lanka were built on coastal areas to protect the entry points such as harbours from invading forces. But there are some forts which were built inside the country. They were meant to defend the low land from the Kandyan Kingdom in the hills.
Until the Kandy fell to British in 1815, it was a independent kingdom refusing to bow the head to the colonial powers which held the coastal belt. Therefore the the Dutch and the Portuguese built several forts on the foothills which boarders the Kandyan Kingdom and their areas. Katuwana Fort is such a located in the Katuwana divisional secretary of Hambantota District.
The Katuwana Fort was built in 1645 A.D by the Dutch East India Company. But long before the Dutch arrived, the importance of Katuwana as a strategic location for the the armies was known by the Sinhalese kings and queens. The Great Chronicle of Sri Lanka, Mahawansa describes of a defense fort build by queen Sugala when she was warring with king Maha Parakramabahu (1153-1186) of Polonnaruwa Kingdom for an independent Ruhuna.
According to Haydt who visited the fort in 1734 there had been two bastions which accommodated 12 cannons, single and two storied buildings for quarters, stores, surgical theaters etc. The rampart is about 150 feet x 150 feet in dimensions which is made of huge boulders is about 20 feet high from externally and 8-12 feet high from internally. This fort was captured and partly destroyed by the Kandyan forces in 1761 during the Matara Rebellion.
The main door of the Fort can be now found on the Maduwanwela Walawwa today. It is said that at one time the British has issued a arrest warrant for the Maduwanwala Disawe, popularly known as the Black Prince of Sabaragamuwa and when the soldiers came to arrest him, he trapped them and demanded that the British give him a beautiful timber doorway from the old Dutch Fort at Katuwana in exchange for the soldiers’ lives.
The fort was abounded after the attack of 1761 and became ruined with time. In early 20th century, the government built a rural hospital just outside the ramparts and thereafter local administrative center, Assistant government agents office and residences and some other government buildings were constructed inside the fort. The Archaeological department declared the fort as a protected monument in 1980 and restoration was stared on annual basis with very limited funds allocated for the work every year. In 2007, the Netherlands government came to rescue to restore the fort and to relocate the buildings within and around to make it a tourist attraction.
The arch entrance of the fort was scientifically excavated remains of the archway was discovered. After studying the entrances of other dutch forts, it was restored by craftsmen of department of archaeology.
The fort can easily be reached from Middeniya which in turn can be reached from either Panamure or directly from Embilipitiya.
Map of Katuwana Dutch Fort
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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Traveling Directions to Katuwana Dutch Fort
Route from Colombo to Katuwana Dutch Fort
|Though : Southern highway – Matara – Walasmulla|
distance :208 km
Travel time : 3.5 – 4 hours
Driving directions : see on google map