History and legend of the Maha Maluva
During the season of the Kandy Esala Perahara the Maha Maluwa or the fore-court of the Dalada Maligava, draws much public attention and veneration but it is quite surprising that many are still unaware of the history and legend of this unique place, steeped in history and legend. From the time of the Sinhala kings many events of national and religious importance have taken place at the Maha Maluva.
The Maha Maluva, which exactly means the great terrace, is hardly an acre in extent and it is closely associated with many important events that took place from the ancient times when Kandy was proclaimed the capital of the Kandyan Kingdom. The Maha Maluva can also be thought of as a sort of esplanade which is sanctified with hallowed memories dating back to the very early historic times of Kandy and the Dalada Maligava.
This artistic creation which blends eminently with the art and architecture of the renowned Dalada Maligava is said to have been laid by king Wimala Dharmasuriya 1 during whose reign the sacred Tooth Relic (Dalada) was brought to Kandy with pomp and pageantry.It was from the Maha Maluva that aggrieved people brought to the notice of the king any wrong or injustice done to them by the royal officers. Such grievances were immediately looked into and the king punished the offenders.
It was also a ground on which men and women of all castes, creeds and religions sat in hours of distress and sought peace through the teachings of the Buddha and the presence of the Dalada Maligava in the vicinity symbolised the very life and teachings of the Buddha.The Kandyan kings down the ages held the Maha Maluva in great esteem and considered it as a sacred place worthy of veneration. During those days this place was a sort of sanctuary whose precincts provided spiritual solace to disturbed minds and everyone felt proud and happy to enter the sacred precincts of the Maha Maluva before entering the Dala Maligava.As much as the other places of historical and cultural significance in Kandy the Maha Maluwa too has its own legends.
It is said that the Maha Maluva was the threshing ground of a large paddy field that is the Kandy Lake today. Legend has it that when king Wimala Dharmasuriya wanted to select a site for his capital astrologers advised him to select the site of the threshing floor which was frequented by a Kiri Mugatiya (white mongoose).
Thus we see that from time immemorial the Maha Maluva has been a lucky site. Ever since Lanka’s capital was established in Kandy the Dalada Maligava, the Maha Maluva, the Magul Maduva (Audience Hall), the four Devales and the king’s palace were the most important corner-stones in the entire cultural and religious life of the people. It was at the Maha Maluva that kings and Princes of foreign lands, Adigars, Prelates and Generals and foreign Emissaries first met the important representatives of the King of Kandy.
While the Kandyan royality established the Magul Maduva as a place of public audience the Maha Maluva figured as a centre of religious and national festivities connected with the Kandyan Court. It was at this hallowed spot that the Tooth Relic (Dalada) was occasionally exhibited from public veneration and it was at the Maha Maluva that the king received the Ambassadors from other countries.
The Maha Maluva coupled with the serene atmosphere pervading the environs of the Dalada Maligava make us forget the burdens of daily life even today.It was at the Maha Maluva that Ambassadors of the mighty western powers prostrated before the king of Kandy and presented their credentials and gifts before meeting at the Audience Hall later.
From the time Kandy was established as the capital of the Kandyan kingdom the Maligava, the Pattiruppuva (Octagon) and the Maha Maluva became important components of the kingdom. Of the many events that took place at the Maha Maluva three are noteworthy as events of horror. It was here that Pilimatalawe Adigar received the death sentence from king Sri Wickremarajasinghe.
It was here, from the Pattiruppuwa, that the king ordered the execution of Ehelepola Kumarihamy and her children. Ehelepola Kumarihamy lamented about her fate and that of her children from the Maha Maluva and cursed the king for his cruelty.
The third was the execution of a Buddhist priest by the British Governor, Viscount Torrington. Today the Maha Maluva has been given a new face-lift and tastefully landscaped. It stands out prominently in the shadow of the sacred Dalada Maligava as it did during the time of the Kandyan kings.(AS)
Driving Directions to Dalada Maligawa
Map of the Dalada Maligawa