“Born as a Vedda, freed from being a traditional Vedda, but wildly spreading his command over the Nilgala Green Forest, bravely challenging the security forces, enjoying all the comforts, befriending a doctor named ‘Spittle’ after meeting him, and then growing old in prison and died in Badulla hospital, the body of ‘Wannaku Tissahami’ was respectfully buried at Badulla Public Cemetery on August 20, 1952 by Doctor Spital . . .”
“වැද්දකු ලෙසින් ඉපිද පාරම්පරික වැදි බැවින් මිදී, එහෙත් වනචාරීව, නිල්ගල හරිත වනයේ තම අණසක පතුරුවමින් ආරක්ෂක අංශයන් දෙවැනි කොට අභීතව හා අදීනව, සියලු කම් සැප විඳ, ‘ස්පිට්ල්’ නම් වූ වෙදැදුරු හමු වීමෙන් පසු ඔහු හා මිතුරුව, පසුව බන්ධනාගාර ගතව වියපත්ව ලෝ දම් පරිදි ගිලන්ව බදුළු රෝහලේ දී මියැදුණු උත්තුංග දේහධාරී ‘වන්නකු තිසාහාමි’ නම් වූ පුහුදුන් මිනිසාගේ මෘත දේහය ස්පිට්ල් වෙදැදුරු විසින් 1952 අගෝස්තු 20 දා ගෞරවණිය ලෙස බදුල්ල පොදු සුසාන භූමියේදී මිහිදන් කරවා මෙසේ සටහන් කරන්නට යෙදුන වගයි . . .”
This is what you would read in a discolored notice board by a corner if you ever enter the Cemetery of Badulla. Closeby lies a tombstone of this forgotten Vedda. The tombstone has been engraved with his name and the date of his death, and some kind of stones had been in-layed on the engraved letters which have now come off, making it difficult to read the text.
This is the tomb of Wananku Tissahami, the legendry Vedda who rattled the British by killing multiple government officials but became a friend of doctor R.L. Spittel so much that he wrote the widely popular novel “Savage Sanctuary” based on Tissahami’s life.
Wannaku Tissahami was born in the village of Holike and has been brought up at Mulgama Temple when young. He had also learned Ayurvda from the chief prelate of the temple during this time. However after about 5 years he had left the temple.
He married a young woman called Dorakumbure Sudu Bandi despite her parents’ objections. Tisahami lived among the veddas of Ambilinna. In 2 years he forcefully brought a young girl called Valli as the second wife.
Tissahami had three wives and five children. Sudubanda, Kapuru, Balavannia, Tikiri and Kombi are the five. Tikiri had been killed by her husband and it was alleged that Tissahami had killed the husband in rage for killing his daughter. Some say it was actually it was Sudubanda who killed him.
However the Korale of Nilgala was chasing after Tissahami for this murder and he was killed by him. Thereafter a muslim trader is also said to have been killed by him. Thereafter he goes into hiding with his 7 year daughter Kombi to the jungle of Vedda Country. In December 1932 the police tracked him to chena in the jungle and a team was sent to capture him. However during a gunfight, a police constable named H.D.S Appuhami and managed to escape.
Although he is considered a hot tempered criminal as some, he is also considered a local Robin Hood who robbed the rich merchants and distributed them among villagers.
Seventeen years of hiding from the police after this incident, Tissahami voluntarily gave himself at the Badulla police station and the Badulla courts he was charged and sentenced to prison. The judge did not deliver the death penalty due to his old age and health. (Windham J.,The King v. Wannaku Tissahamy, 1941)
Tissahami finally died in 1953 in Badulla hospital at the age of 72. Dr Spittel buried him in the Badulla Cemetery and built the tomb we see today.
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Map of the Tomb of the Wannaku Tissahami Vedda of Savage Sanctuary
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Traveling to Tomb of the Wannaku Tissahami Vedda
|Route From Bandarawela to Traveling to Tomb of the Wannaku Tissahami Vedda|
|Distance : 29 km|
Travel time :45 mins
Driving Directions : see on google maps