Poothathamby Arch (Sangili Toppu) in Jaffna – සංගිලි තොප්පු

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Poothathamby Arch (Sangili Toppu) at Jaffna, Sri Lanka

Poothathamby Arch (Sangili Toppu) at Jaffna, Sri Lanka

Traveling about 900 meters on the Point Pedro road from the Nallur Kandaswamy Kovil in Jaffna you will come across a arch of a colonial building right next to the road with a canopy covering it from the elements of nature. This lone arch is know as the Sangili Toppu or Poothathamby Arch. Some believe that as the entrance to the place of the last regional king of Jaffna, King Sangili.

The general consensus is that this was the entrance to mansion of  a wealthy tamil individual Poothathamby, a local administrator from the Dutch period. Thus this arch is known as Poothathamby Arch.

Poothathamby Arch (Sangili Toppu) at Jaffna, Sri Lanka

Poothathamby Arch (Sangili Toppu) at Jaffna, Sri Lanka

Years on, pieces of the story remains in present day Jaffna. A recent travel guide ‘The essential guide for Jaffna’ by Philippe Fabry (Viator Publications, Colombo, 2003) contains the following interesting piece of information about the remains of Poothathamby’s mansion. In the storyline Poothathamby entertains Mudaliyar Andrado at this residence.

Page 21: ” This arch bears the name of King Sangili, or Sankili (1519) and some authors believe it marks the entrance to the palace from which only this ornamental arch, still remains. Locals call it also Poothathamby Vealaivu (arch) and Dr Kunarasa says that it was the headquarters of Poothathamby mudeliyar, a Tamil mudeliyar (administrator), from the Dutch period.

Poothathamby was executed by Dutch for treason.  The events leading to this execution is tangled with a myth and history.  A  local poet  Pareemalam develops a fictional drama of   this event around 1830.

This Nadagam Drama represented  Poothathamby as the hero and Andrado, an official of Dutch Government as the villain.  In between them was the beautiful wife of Poothathamby with whom Andrado fell in love with. When the wife of Poothathamby rejected his advances  Andrado became so enraged as to procure the execution of her husband by falsifying charges of cooperating with the Portuguese.

Then a young proctor called S. Kathiresu, published a book in 1905 called “Handbook to the Jaffna Peninsula” and took this drama script and wove it to the history of Jaffna creating historical fact from a drama script.

“Notes on Jaffna” A book published in 1923 by John H. Martyn looks at all the historical records and the publication of of  Philips Baelde   (Description of the East Indian Countries of Malabar, Coromandel, Ceylon, etc. – in Dutch, 1671) of this event  and compares the Kathiresu story. ”

Andrado and Poothatamby were the representatives of two rival sections of the community. Don Manuel Andrado is described by Baldaeus as a Singhalese, a Mudaliyar and a Captain in the service of the noble Dutch Company. Don Lewis Poothatamby was a native of Jaffna; but there is no better or higher authority available than that of Katiresu for dubbing him a Mudaliyar. He certainly held no position similar or equal to that of Andrado. He was evidently a man, who, as the fitting sample and repre­sentative of his class, was playing a double part in his day, just in the same fashion as the bat in Aesop’s fable of the battle be­tween the birds and the beasts. His sole aim seems to have been to curry favour with the Portuguese as well as with the Dutch, unmindful of the fact of their being belligerents and enemies, as the means of finding his way to some object of self-aggrandisement. He however stood neither by the Dutch nor by the Portuguese as the firm friend of either and his treachery which finally revealed his dangerous and despicable character met with the awful punishment it fully deserved, serving as a warning to all his descendants and admirers. But have his descendants and admirers profited by the warning?”

Also See

Map of  Poothathamby Arch (Sangili Toppu) in Jaffna

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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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Traveling Directions to Poothathamby Arch (Sangili Toppu) in Jaffna

Route 01 from Colombo to Jaffna

Route 02 from Colombo to Jaffna

Though : Puttlam – Anuradhapura – Vavunia
distance :407 km
Travel time : 7-8 hours
Driving directions : see on google map
Through : Kurunegala – Anuradhapura – Vavunia
distance : 410 km
Travel time : 7-8 hours
Driving Directions : see on google maps

Route from Jaffna Fort to Poothathamby Arch (Sangili Toppu) in Jaffna

using : Point Padro Road
Distance :4 km
Travel time : 10 mins
Driving directions : see on google map

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