Doric House and Doric Tower at Arippu (අරිප්පු ඩොරික් බංගලාව හා ඩොරික් කුලුණ)

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Once ghost towns along the Puttlum – Mannar coastal line bordering Wilpattu National Park, these small towns and villages have now woken up from the 30-year slumber after the end of the LTTE terrorist occupation.

This stretch of sea was world famous for thousands of years for producing the finest pearls in the world but today a wasteland with few fishing villages due to over-exploitation.

Portuguese, Dutch and British all had considerable interest in the region and the best example is the massive bungalow of the British Governor, Sir Frederick North (1798-1805) built for the supervision of pearl fishery operations in the region.

Frederic North, who became Earl of Guilford later, arrived here in Sri Lanka (then Ceylon) in 1798 and visited Arippu a few times during the next few years as the pearl fishery was revived by the British. By this time, pearl fishery was revived in Kondachchi, a tiny village south of Silavathura. Kondachchi later became popular due to the establishment of government cashew plantations.

It could be probably during these visits that Frederic North had the idea of building a bungalow on these premises. The governor himself laid the foundation stone of the Doric building on March 18, 1802, and it took almost two years to complete the construction. There are official records such as letters and minutes to suggest that this was almost completed by early 1804. Governor North was probably able to stay in this bungalow for the first time during the fishery of 1804, as he was at Arippu from early February to early April.

Cordiner in his Description of Ceylon mentions that this building was planned by the Governor. He further provides a detailed account of this building with a drawing made by him. This drawing shows the Doric columns rising on the front and rear porticos, which are no longer available. Cordiner provides the layout plan of the building, which can be traced even now. According to him, there were four small bedrooms on the ground floor and stairs in the centre; two well-proportioned rooms were on the upper floor. Though the upper floor is no more, the ground floor plan is very similar to the existing plan of the ruin. The building had a terraced roof over the upper floor, from where someone could see the entire area around, providing an excellent place to watch the fishery activities on the sea. Even from the top of the existing ruin, we could observe the area around us. Cordiner states that this was ‘undoubtedly the most beautiful building on the island and almost the only one which is planned according to any order of architecture’.

Time showed the ravages of nature on this building. – Sea breeze, harsh conditions and negligence were the key reasons for this. By the early 1900s, the upper floor was gone and the rear portico to the seaside was prey to sea erosion in the 1980s. The remaining walls are being continuously corroded by the wind and washed by the rains. The damage continues as the northern section of the building (which seems intact in the photos) also collapsed in 2004 when our friend Ajitha Madanayake visited the site and photographed the building. There is serious uncertainty about the future of the ruins, which is a part of our heritage.

The Doric has been erroneously mentioned as the Dutch Fort by a few journalists and authors during the 30 years of LTTE terrorists. Some of these have provided photographs of it. This mistaken identification seems to be due to a few reasons. Though many knew about the existence of the Dutch Fort in Arippu, most of them were ignorant of the existence of a British mansion in the area. Also, the lack of frequent visitors is the main cause of this ignorance. In some extreme cases, the Doric was mentioned as a Portuguese mansion and the palace of a legendary queen!. However, 15 years later after the end of the LTTE terror, The Doric has now taken its rightful place.

The Tower at Arippu, (Arippu Tower, Doric Tower)  lying a few hundred meters away from the fort is a strange cerement tower with no apparent use.  The top of this square tower tapers off into a pyramid shape. Despite any visible signs, this tower is believed to be a sort of lighthouse which had a fire burning at the top guiding the pearl vessels to land.

Primary Source : Dhanesh Wisumperuma
Daily Mirror

Also See

Map of The Doric House and Doric Tower

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Driving Directions to Doric House and Doric Tower

Route from Colombo to Doric House and Doric Tower Route from Anuradhapura Town to Doric House and Doric Tower
Though : Puttlam – Eluwankulama
Distance : 235 km
Travel time : 6+ hours
Driving directions : see on google map
Though : Medawachchiya – Seelawathura
Distance : 110 km
Travel time : 3 hours
Driving directions : see on google map


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