Travelling about 900 meters on the Point Pedro road from the Nallur Kandaswamy Kovil in Jaffna you will come across an arch of a colonial building right next to the road with a canopy covering it from the elements of nature. This lone arch is known as the Sangili Toppu or Poothathamby Arch. Some believe that it is the entrance to the palace of the last regional king of Jaffna, King Sangili.
The consensus is that this was the entrance to the mansion of a wealthy Tamil individual named Poothathamby, a local administrator from the Dutch period. Thus this arch is known as Poothathamby Arch.
Years on, pieces of the story remain 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 the Dutch for treason. The events leading to this execution are tangled with a myth and history. A local poet Pareemalam developed a fictional drama of this event around 1830.
This Nadagam Drama represented Poothathamby as the hero and Andrado, an official of the Dutch Government as the villain. In between them was the beautiful wife of Poothathamby with whom Andrado fell in love. 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 woven it into the history of Jaffna creating historical facts 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?”
- Fabry, P., Fabry-Bewley, L., Fabry, A. and Fabry, E., 2003. The essential guide for Jaffna and its region. 1st ed. Negombo, Sri Lanka: Viator Publications.
- Katiresu, S., 1905. A hand book to the Jaffna Peninsula and a souvenir of the opening of the railway to the North. 1st ed. Tellippallai: American Ceylon Misson Press.
- MARTYN, J., 1923. Notes on Jaffna, chronological, historical, biographical. American Ceylon Mission Press: Tellippalai.
- Notes on Jaffna – A Disputed point of Local History
- Amazing Lanka Jaffna Guide
- Forts and Fortifications of Sri Lanka
Map of Poothathamby Arch (Sangili Toppu) in Jaffna
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
Zoom out the map to see more surrounding locations using the mouse scroll wheel or map controls.
Traveling Directions to Poothathamby Arch (Sangili Toppu) in Jaffna
Jaffna can be reached through 2 directions. The first one is over the Elephant Pass which is the normal route to Jaffna. The other entrance is from Pooneryn over the newly built Sangupiddi Bridge. This road connects to Mannar.
|Route 01 from Colombo to Jaffna (Through Kurunegala)
|Route 02 from Colombo to Jaffna (Through Puttalam)
|Through : Kurunegala – Dambulla – Anuradhapura – Vavuniya
Distance : 400 km
Travel Time : 7-8 hours
Driving Directions : see on Google map
|Through : Puttalam – Anuradhapura – Vavuniya
Distance : 400 km
Travel Time : 7-8 hours
Driving Directions : see on Google maps
|Route from Jaffna Fort to Poothathamby Arch (Sangili Toppu) in Jaffna
|Through : Point Padro Road
Distance :4 km
Travel time : 10 mins
Driving directions : see on Google map