Memorial of Lewke Dissawa at Hanwella

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Memorial of Lewke Dissawa at Hanwella – ලෙව්කේ දිසාව හිස ගැසූ ස්ථානයේ සිහිවටන ඵලකය
Memorial of Lewke Dissawa at Hanwella – ලෙව්කේ දිසාව හිස ගැසූ ස්ථානයේ සිහිවටන ඵලකය
පුන් සඳ සේම පායාලා රට මැ      ද්  දේ 
රන්කෙඳි සේම පීරාලා පිට මැ      ද්  දේ 
මාර සෙනඟ වට කරගෙන යම යු   ද් දේ
ලෙව්කේ මැතිඳු අද තනියම වෙල මැ ද් දේ

Lewke is a aristocratic family who were entrusted with number of royal positions during the Kandyan kingdom. According to some legends the bloodline of Lewkes were originated from the Brhamanas who came to island during the 11th century during the reign of king Vijayabahu I. Lewke Dissawa which we speak of today was the chief commander of the army of Sri Wickrama Rajasinhe and his unusual strength is legendary and is shrouded in folklore.

It is said that a renowned wrestling champion from South India came to the Kandyan palace of Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe, bowed before the king, told him his story and openly challenged any warrior serving in the palace to wrestle with him. The king looked at the faces of all the generals, but all looked at the floor and remained silent. The king was shocked. Lewke broke the silence and accepted the challenge. The king set a date one month from then and the two were allowed to rest in the adjoining chambers with the best food and drink. They ate and drank together in two adjoining rooms of the royal palace and had a pleasant conversation. Information about the subject was the subject of their conversation. It was the custom of the two of them to have a happy chat, even after dinner. Lewke, meanwhile, was devising a clever tactic to deceive and intimidate the Indian wrestler.

The battle is two or three days away. After the Indian wrestler fell asleep, Lewke used an axe to dig a hole large enough to put his hand through in the wall without making any noise in the room where the Indian was staying, leaving a tiny layer. Most of the time, the two of them had milk rice with coconut milk for breakfast. They were given raw or dried coconuts to squeeze if needed.

“Coconut milk is not enough for milk rice. Can you give me a coconut? ” Lewke asked the Indian wrestler.

“There are two or three coconuts. Will you come to the room? “

“I don’t have to come out. Give me through the wall. I will put the hand through the wall and hand me the coconut ”

In a moment a hand appeared through the wall breaking up the whitewashed plaster layer. The Indian wrestler watched in amazement as Lewke broke through the wall and reached into the room. The Indian wrestler was shocked to see Lewke’s physical prowess when he saw him take the dried coconut and squeezed it to to make coconut milk and pored over his milk rice. He began to think alone for hours. When it got dark, the wrestler from India disappeared in to the darkness and fled across the Kandyan border alone. Next morning this news spread like wildfire the and spread throughout the royal court and the country. Lewke, who feared and defeated the Indian wrestler by his cunning tactics, received a village as a gift from the king as a mark of appreciation.

Since the time the throne went to the Nayak Dynasty the aristocrats and the kings always had periodic clashes. It was these Nayakkar dynasties who came to power in Senkadagala after the demise of Sri Weera Parakrama Narendrasinghe, the last Sinhala king of the country. There were four rulers who came to power in Senkadagala under their dynasty ending with Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe.

The conflict peaked during the time of Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe. Young Kannasamy was appointed to the Kandyan throne by Pilimatalawe Adikaram as Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe with a view of controlling him to his will. But it did not take long for the conflict between the emperor and the king to begin. The first reason for the clash between the two was that Pilimathalawa had pointed out that the construction of a new tank by the king at the site of the Tigolla field in Kandy would be unfair to the farmers. The other reason for the rift between the two was the issue of the assassination of Lewke Disawa.

Lewke Disawa was the first important aristocrat to be assassinated by King Sri Wickrema Rajasinghe. The reason for the assassination is described in the “Thri Sinhalaye Nayakayo” by Nuwaraeliye Hemapala;

“He had done so much for his country and the Buddha Sasana. When he went to attack the fort at Hanwella in September 1803, someone came and told the king that Lewke Dissawa was relaxing in a paddy field drinking from a young coconut stating that it was very easy to conquer the fort. The king who was already agitated by the Pilimatalawe Adikarams tactics against the Nayak Dynasty, was furious and immediately went to the battlefield, in the direction of Lewke and ordered him to be beheaded also suspecting him of a bullet that had passed him close by even if when the him, and in the direction of Lewke he ordered him to be beheaded, even while Lewke Dissawa assured to capture the fort in five minutes. “

In 1803, the Sinhalese won a great victory at the Battle of Wagolla, while capturing Major Davy, who led the battle. Prince Muthusami, who had accompanied the British army, was killed by King Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe. Excited by the victory at the Battle of Wagolla, King Sri Wickrema Rajasinghe decided to attack and capture the lowland forts belonging to the British. Before the attack on Colombo, Lewke and the king intended to attack an English fort at Hanwella. Lewke was murdered by the king during this battle suspecting of trying to kill the king.

According to James Cordiner, the king had decapitated Lewke Disawa as well as Maha Mottiar or chief secretary of state at the site and left their bodies unburied. He also reports number bodies of executed subjects of the king had floated off the river off Hanwella (Kelani Ganga) to Grandpass in Colombo. The widows of the Lewke Dissawa and and the Maha Mohottiar had been refused permission by the King to come down to the place of their husbands’ death, to collect their remains, and perform the last duties, were said to have laid violent hands upon themselves.

Today, the monument marking the site where Lewke Dissawa lies in Hanwella at the junction where the Low Level Road connects to the High Level Road. The verse mentioned at the very top can be seen on this memorial carved in to stone.


  1. Cordiner, J., 1807. A description of Ceylon : containing an account of the country, inhabitants, and natural productions : with narratives of a tour round the island in 1800, the campaign in Candy in 1803, and a journey to Ramisseram in 1804 : Volume II. 1st ed. London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, and Orme.
  2. ජයවර්ධන, එස්. කේ., 2019. ඉන්දියාවෙන් ආ මල්ලවපොරකරු මහ රෑම පලායයි…. ‘ඓතිහාසික ජනප‍්‍රවාද’. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 12 June 2021].
  3. History Book.Com. n.d. උඩරට රජවරුන්ට අභියෝගයක්‌ වූ රදළ බලය. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 12 June 2021].

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Travel Directions to Memorial of Lewke Dissawa at Hanwalla

Route from Colombo to Memorial of Lewke Dissawa at Hanwalla
Through : Kaduwela – Hanwella
Distance : 34 km
Travel time : 1 hour
Driving directions : see on google map