Establishing highways and railways in Sri Lanka is credited to the British, the last foreign rulers to conquer the country. The construction of these transportation networks by the British significantly contributed to the economic development of the nation, serving both administrative purposes and facilitating the transportation of economic products.
Initially, roads were constructed to connect major cities such as Galle, Colombo, Matara, Jaffna, Batticaloa, Trincomalee, Negombo, Kandy, Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Hambantota, Nuwara Eliya, and others. Mileposts were strategically placed to measure the distances between these locations.
Today, the measurement unit for distance has transitioned from miles to kilometres. Additionally, the traditional mileposts have been replaced by kilometre posts, made of concrete indistinguishable from each other.
Among the historical mileposts installed by the British Public Works Department, a noteworthy one stands in the Devinuwara area near Matara. This particular milepost considered the tallest in Sri Lanka, is situated in front of the residence of Mr Ronnie de Mel, a prominent Sri Lankan politician and former finance minister, near the Devinuwara Sri Vishnu Upulwan Devalaya on the Matara-Kataragama highway.
Remarkably, this 7-foot-high milestone is intricately carved from granite and at about 4 feet height, 103 is engraved with the name “Dondra” just below it.
The uniqueness of the 103rd milepost extends to its design, reminiscent of ancient stones found in the cities of Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa. The inscription of ‘Devinuwara‘ in Sinhala at the top of the pillar, along with the engraving of ‘Kuru Etha‘ (dwarf elephant) the emblem of the Ruhunu flag, further adds historical significance. Scholars interpret the inclusion of ‘Kuru Etha’ as a tribute to Ruhuna.
A distinctive feature of the Ruhunu flag is the representation of the ‘dwarf elephant.’ In the past, these dwarf elephants, known as ‘Ruhunu Gataya,’ thrived in the ‘Bata Etha’ area near Tangalle. Although smaller in size compared to their counterparts, these elephants possessed exceptional strength and a fierce, unyielding nature. The use of the ‘dwarf elephant’ on the Ruhunu flag symbolizes the patriotism and indomitable courage of Ruhunu warriors, emphasizing the identity of the Ruhunu people.
The ‘Ruhunu Kuru Eta‘ flag holds a prominent position in the grand annual Esala Possession at the Devinuwara Sri Upulvan Vishnu Maha Devalaya. This procession, conducted with grandeur each year, showcases the cultural significance of the flag. Historical records also suggest that King Dutugemunu carried the ‘Elephant’ flag during the momentous war procession from Magampattu in Ruhuna to Anuradhapura.
The use of the dwarf elephant in the milepost is believed to pay homage to the people of Ruhuna, although the exact reason remains unclear. Despite the mystery surrounding its installation, the milestone, recognized as the tallest in Sri Lanka, stands as a lasting testament to the magnificence and pride of our nation.
In the past, attempts have been made to remove this historically significant pillar by various people. Consequently, the post has been fixed to a concrete base and to a parapet wall itself ensuring the preservation of its historical monument for generations to come.
Map of Tallest Mile Post in Sri Lanka (103 Milepost at Devinuwara, Matara)
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Travelling Directions to Tallest Mile Post in Sri Lanka (103 Milepost at Devinuwara, Matara)
|Route from Colombo
|Route from Galle
|Through : Southern Expressway – Galle – Matara
Distance : 168 km
Travel Time : 3 Hours
Driving Directions : View on Google Map
|Distance: 45 km
Travel Time: 50 minutes
Driving Directions: View on Google Maps