Memorial of Crushing the 1848 Matale Rebellion (1848 මාතලේ කැරැල්ල සිහිවටනය)
The Kandyan kingdom fell to British in 1815 and in 1848 the British levied a series of taxes on guns, dogs, carts, shops and labour was made compulsory on plantation roads agitating the public. During the same time an economic depression in the United Kingdom had severely affected the local coffee and cinnamon industry. On 1 July 1848, a license fees were imposed on guns, dogs, carts, shops and labour was made compulsory on plantation roads, These taxes bore heavily not only on the purse but also on the traditions of the Kandyan peasant.
A mass movement against the oppressive taxes was developing. The masses were without the leadership of king king Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe being captured and deported to a prison in India in 1815.
Civilians were getting together for protests on taxes in multiple cities. However anther group of civilians headed by Gongalegoda Banda were gathering in Dambulla with the intension of liberating of Kandyan kingdom by the British.
On 26 July 1848, the leaders and the supporters entered the historic Dambulla Viharaya and at 11.30 a.m., Gongalegoda Banda was consecrated by the head monk of Dambulla, Ven. Giranegama Thera as the king “Sri Wickrama Subha Sarva Siddhi Rajasinghe“. He asked the people whether they were on the side of the Buddhists or the British. On the same day Dines, his brother was declared the sub-king and Dingirala as the uncrowned king of the Sat Korale. Veera Puran Appu was appointed prime minister and the sword bearer to Gongalegoda Banda and attended his consecration ceremony with 4000 others.
After the proclamation of the king, he with his army left Dambulla via Matale to capture Kandy from the British. They attacked government buildings including the Matale Kachcheri and destroyed some of the tax records. Simultaneously, Dingirirala instigated attacks in Kurunegala, where eight people were killed by the British.
The Kandyans knew what was coming long before. Millie reports that there was an general sense of hushness among the people, salt and paddy was nowhere to be bought as the civilians were stocking these items in expectation of embargos of food, specially salt reaching the highlands after the liberation.
However this rebellion was short lived. The group of rebels were merely a mass, a mob, with not the slightest pretension to military discipline, display, or armament ; the bulk were armed with old flint guns, rude spears, knives ; and probably hooks and scythes. The only source of danger was in their numbers ; but even that, without a trained military leader, was of very little use. (Millie, 1878). The rebellion has died even before it started on 29th June 1648.
On this fateful day the detachment of troops sent out from Kandy came upon the rebels at Wariyapola estate near Matale (not the current town of Wariyapola). The trained soldiers were no match for villagers with knives and spears. Puran Appu and Dingeralle were captured; Gongallegoda Banda evaded the British troops for a while till he was captured by a band of Malays while hiding in a cave in the Elkaduwa area.
Puran Appu died a courageous death; but Dingeralle and Gongallegoda Banda proved to be weak men who cringed before their captors and the Gongallegoda Banda issued Purang died a courageous death; but Dingeralle and Gongallegoda Banda proved to be weak men who cringed before their captors and the Gongallegoda Banda issued a statement implicating almost every Kandyan chieftain, almost certainly under duress.
On the site where the Matale Rebels were captured, a memorial stone was installed by Mr. Thomas MacClachlan, acting Superintendent of Wariyapola Estate in 1909.
The monument reads,
REBELS DISPERSED HERE
BY TROOPS UNDER
CAPTAIN LILLIE C.R.R.
29 JULY 1848
Until recently, this monument was half buried under a drain by the road. However it has been restored recently at the same site on a platform. The stone lies 1.5 km before the Matale Junction towards Kandy at the turn off to Veera Puran Appu Mawatha.
- Lewis , J.P. (1913) List of Inscriptions on Tombstones and Monuments in Ceylon: Of Historical Or Local Interest, with an Obituary of Persons Uncommemorated. Colombo, Sri Lanka: H. C Cottle.
- De Silva, K.M. (1964) “THE ‘REBELLION’ OF 1848 IN CEYLON,” The Ceylon Journal of Historical Studies and Social Studies, 7(2).
- Millie, P.D. (1878) Thirty Years Ago : Reminiscences of the Early Days of Coffee Planting in Ceylon . Colombo , Sri Lanka: A.M. & J Ferguson.
Map of Memorial of Crushing the 1848 Matale Rebellion
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Driving Directions to Memorial of Crushing the 1848 Matale Rebellion
Route from Matale town to Memorial of Crushing the 1848 Matale Rebellion
|Though : |
distance : 300 meters
Travel time : 5 minutes
Driving directions : see on google map