Place where King Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe was Captured @ Bomure (ශ්‍රී වික්‍රම රාජසිංහ රජු ඉංග්‍රීසින්ට අසුවූ ස්ථානය)

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Place where King Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe was Captured @ Bomure

To reach the monument at the Place where King Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe was Captured, you need to go to the small town of Medamahanuwara, then walk for 10 minutes to reach the location. The path is poorly marked, because this isn’t a place dear to Kandyan hearts: it’s where their last king, fleeing Kandy and seeking refuge, instead surrendered to trackers who turned him over to British captivity. Indeed, were it up to the Kandyans, there would be no monument at all. The stone was instead placed by the government agent in Kandy in 1908, almost a century after Sri Wickrama Rajasinha was captured in 1815. He was taken to exile in India, where he died in 1830.

After the fall of city of Kandy in February 1815 to the British rule, Eheylapola Maha Adhikaram ( who was one of the main conspirators who helped the British to take over Kandy) sent a group of his people to help the British to capture the king who had escaped from the palace. After several days this team found that the king was in hiding in the area of “Bomure

What happened after the Eheylapola’s gang headed by Ekneligoda Nilame surrounded the house in which the king Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe was hiding on the 18th of February 1815, was published by C.T.A Dias (who was a translator who participated in the group who captured Kandy) in the 1861 April issue of “Sinhala Sangarawa” publication. An english translation of this account was published in the journal number 47 of the local branch of Royal Asiatic Society.

Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe - Last king of the Nation
Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe – Last king of the Nation

The capture of the king was due to a freak incident. Ekneligoda was maerching with about 500 of the Sabaragamuwa Kandyans when a young boy of about ten or twelve years old ran across a field. The soldiers chased after the boy and captured him. The boy terrified and cried in terror “Lords, don’t kill me ; I will lead you to the hiding-place of the great god ” (meaning the king). Eknaligoda tied a creeper around the boys waist with the other end in his hands asked the boy to show the way.

The After a brief resistance, The king appeared delivered himself. The gang of Ekneligoda Nilame pulled the king out of the house and stole every valuable worn by the king and the queen. One of the goons called “Kiriporuwe Mohottala” tore the queen Venkathi Rangammal‘s earlobes to steal the earrings worn by her. The queen with the bleeding earlobes, fearing for her life ran in to the house.

The Tholkamudali called Dias who was with this crowd, called the queen with due respect and the queen now in her white undergarments (all the cloths being stolen) came out and asked for protection from him. The Tholkamudali got some hebal plants treated her bleeding earlobes.

Meanwhile the Ekneligoda Nilame asked his goons for bring some kirindi creepers to tie the king. The Tholkamudali distressed at the way the king is being treated told the Ekneligoda, “Nilame, you Kandyans have been up to this hour reverencing the king in such humiliating forms as worshipping and prostrating yourselves before him, and calling him by such venerable appellations as O God, O Lord, Father. But as we, from the time of our forefathers, have been the subjects of foreign powers, we do not owe any allegiance to his majesty. He is your God, your Lord, and your Father. Instead of conveying his majesty respectfully, it is not right on your part to show him such indignity as you are doing by this dishonourable treatment.”

He then offered his Satakaya (an Indian Toga) to tie him. But the Ekneligoda Nilame refused it and tied the king with creepers and dragged him (since he refused to walk) to the fields. Dias unable to stand this immediately scribbled the following note

” The king (Kandyan) has fallen into our hands. Ekneligoda Mohottala has bound the king and is carrying him along, almost dragging him, and subjecting him to great torment and contempt. Come you, therefore, at once with a number of palanquins. As the king and the queens are almost bare of any clothing, bring them also the wherewithal to be clad.”

Having written this note he immediately despatched Yatipahuwe Kankanama with the letter to Mr D’Oyly, political officer in charge. Before the lapse of one hour D’Oyly has sent Colonels Hardy and Hooke, a number of mounted officers, fifty orderlies, a hundred English cavalry, and six palanquins. Then the British force and the two Colonels came to the place where group was located and whipped away and dismissed the offending Kandyans for ill-treating the king. Thus ended the probably the longest Royal Dynasty in the world which survived in Sri Lanka since 6th century BC (over 2350 years) .

The King Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe is remembered by Kandyans as a tyrant, which helps to explain why he was captured by his own people. Their leader, Eheylapola, had his own motive: revenge. The king had earlier tried to punish him for insurrection. Failing to capture him, the king had instead ordered the execution of Eheylapola’s wife and young children. Their courage facing death is legendary in Sri Lanka today, although the king himself, when assailed by the British for such barbarity, insisted that he had acted according to Kandyan law and custom.

J. Penry Lewis, who erected the monument, quotes a source as follows:

“On the following morning the gratifying intelligence was received at Headquarters that the King had been surrounded on the morning of the preceding day (i.e., on February 18, 1815) by some Kandyans of the Province of Dumbara… at a place… very near to Meydemahanoowera.” Lewis also quotes from Henry Marshall’s Ceylon, which offers these additional details: “It appears that the few Malabar attendants remaining with the King made some resistance, and wounded one of the assailants under the command of Eheylopola, on which the party fired upon the house. The King then appeared and delivered himself up. His pursuers forthwith bound and plundered him of whatever articles of value he had on his person.”

The stolen garments of the King Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe  and the blood soaked garments of the queen Venkathi Rangammal was taken home by the Kiriporuwe Mohottala and hidden inside a wooden chest. This chest (with its contents) after being owned by several generations were recovered by teacher in 1930’s (after about 115 years) who followed a story he heard in the village. In 1941 these cloths (including the blood soaked blouse) were handed over to the National Museum of Sri Lanka and even today these clothes show the cruel ending of the last king of a proud nation.

The stone pillar you see today was erected in December 1908. It had to be carried across fields by a tusker elephant to the site. It stands on a step and 9 1/2 feet in height including the step. The pillar is of Kandyan design but lacks any carvings. It reads ;

SRI WICKRAMA RAJASINHA
CAPTURED HERE
18 FEBRUARY 1815

Near it is a tamarind tree, which from appearance, no doubt, stood there when the king was captured.

References

  • Pohath, T.B. (1897) “How the Last King of Kandy was Captured by the British – An Eye-witnesses account, rendered from the Sinhalese.,” Journal of the Ceylon Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society , XIV (1895-1896).
  • Lewis, J., (1913). List Of Inscriptions On Tombstones And Monuments In Ceylon, Of Historical Or Local Interest. 1st ed. Colombo: H.C Cottle, Government Printer, p.342.
  • Cave, H.W. (1908) The Book of Ceylon, Being a Guide to its Railway System and an Account of its Varied Attractions for the Visitor and Tourist. London.

Also See

Map of where King Sri Wikrama Rajasinghe was Captured

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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 where King Sri Wikrama Rajasinghe was Captured

Kandy can be reached from Colombo on the old Colombo – Kandy road (option 1) which is scenic but heavy in traffic specially on Fridays and Sundays. However the new Central Expressway (option 2) has opened up a new route which is longer but less cumbersome.

Route 1 from Colombo to KandyRoute 2 from Colombo to Kandy
Though : kadawata – Warakapola – Ambepussa – Mawanella
Distance :120 km
Travel time : 3.45 hours
Driving directions : see on google map
Though : Katunayake Expressway – Central Expressway – Kurunegala
Distance :150 km
Travel time : 3.20 hours
Driving directions : see on google map
Route From Nuwara Eliya to Kandy
Though : Walapane – Raja Mawatha
Distance :100 km
Travel time : 3.0 hours
Driving directions : see on google map

Route from Kandy

Though : Peradeniya – Weligalla
distance : 37 km
Travel time : 45 minutes
Driving directions : see on google map

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