Senkadagalapura was a glorious capital of Sinhalé (Ceylon) in a bygone era, until encroachment of its boundaries by Colonial rulers and subsequent “development” made inroads in to the city. Now the cultural heritage sites and environmentally rich surroundings are dwarfed by “development”.  Agriculturally, environmentally, climatically, aesthetically and in every other way possible, “Maha Nuwara” or [...]

The Sunday Times Sri Lanka

SENKADAGALAPURA – re-developing the once glorious Kandyan Kingdom


Sri Dalada Maligawa

Senkadagalapura was a glorious capital of Sinhalé (Ceylon) in a bygone era, until encroachment of its boundaries by Colonial rulers and subsequent “development” made inroads in to the city. Now the cultural heritage sites and environmentally rich surroundings are dwarfed by “development”.  Agriculturally, environmentally, climatically, aesthetically and in every other way possible, “Maha Nuwara” or Senkadagalapura, was the true realm of the Sinhalese. Notable remains today are the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic of the Buddha (Sri Dalada Maligawa) and ironically, the buildings of the former Bogambara Prison, now a World Heritage site.

Built by the colonial invaders to incarcerate the natives for treason against the British crown the now empty buildings are an eyesore set opposite the Sacred Temple premises across the beautiful Kandy Lake. The Dunumadalawa strict nature reserve and the Udawatte Kele rain forest have not been spared from the encroaching “development” either. And the last remaining paddy lands which contributed to exporting surplus of rice to South Asia, Nuwara Wela is to be converted to a bus park ensuring the same fate that met “Maha Yaya” (Mahaiyawa), Nitta Wela, and Deiyanne Wela, which have been “developed” to house car sales, shanty housing, shops, other businesses and schools etc.

The important element that needs to be carefully considered when “DEVELOPING” a small city such as Kandy, which is in a valley surrounded by hills with rare archalogical and cultural significance is the impact on the environment which in turn can damage and harm the cultural sites and health of residents and visitors (especially considering the alarming rate of air pollution, which is the highest in Sri Lanka). Throughout the “development” process, the potential adverse effects require being monitored in order to ensure there are no natural disasters such as earth-slips, alternating extreme floods and droughts and other hazards caused without the right balance in “developing” this hilly region.

Air pollution and environmental damage are due to the rapid reduction of the forest cover above the valley on either hillside of the city area for large scale construction (including land filling, water way blocking / re-routing, blocking the wind tunnel/bird flight paths, etc) and congestion (traffic, human, concrete structures).  As the city has no capacity for further expansion, there is a need for solutions without further negatively impacting the environment and cultural sites. Large scale construction requiring clearing more trees/vegetation, building over sites with archeological significance, building higher up on the hills sides to accommodate the various schools, hotels, other businesses and residences,

filling of marshy (paddy) lands and diverting the many waterways arbitrarily, has to stop immediately.  It may be prudent to consider all future development with the aim of making Kandy a Carbon Neutral City, accessible by all, including persons with special needs and DECONGESTING the city in order to ensure a pollution-free, World Heritage City, safe for residents and visitors. Developing the peripheries with this aim would allow people of the areas to meet their needs away from the city. Thereby an opportunity to promote our cultural heritage, healthy living and sustainable environmental conservation in the Greater Kandy Area, will arise.

Foreign investment, jobs, education, promoting a healthy lifestyle, selective tourism and safeguarding the environment, utilising the former Bogambara Prison, Wace Park, Market, Fire Dept., Library and surrounding areas, is an exciting possibility once the peripheries are developed.  Instead of competing with the existing number of hotel rooms in Kandy by converting the existing Bogambara prison complex buildings in to a 5 star hotel, let us consider the following alternatives:

  •  Ceremonially razing to the ground the former Bogambara Prison.
  • Renaming the area as the “Ehelepola Kumarihamy Square” (EKS) and dedicating it to the courageous Sri Lankan woman who forged ahead against all adversity.
  •  Promoting Buddhism, our culture, customs and traditions with the possibility of selective tourism with the existing small boutique hotels and lodges in and around the city vs large concrete 5 star properties unsuitable to the terrain.
  • Re-planting trees along all roadways, alleyways, parking areas and pavements and encouraging vertical gardens while reforesting and expanding the two rain forests Kandy is privileged to have within city limits.
  •  Combined with the surrounding bus parks, George E. De Silva park, Bogambara grounds, General Hospital, Pallekele Ayurveda Hospital, Peradeniya Hospital, Peradeniya University and the Pallekele Buddhist University the EKS can contain a Convention Centre (with state-of-the-art acoustics), a comprehensive Museum, a fully-fledged modern Library, a Medicinal Herb Garden (Wace Park), a state-of-the-art Laboratory Service for Sports Medicine and R&D (a facility needed in the South Asian region), promoting education in:

1. Buddhism, Meditation, Yoga
2. Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation with Ayurveda treatment (including R&D)
3. Traditional dance and music (train and perform)
4. Traditional Musical Instrument Production
5. Traditional Costume Making / Handloom weaving / “Beeralu” lace making
6. Traditional Handicraft / Art Trade (“Kala pola”)
7. Traditional Culinary Art with tasting and sales centres
8. Traditional Martial Arts (Angampora) training along with others sports
9. Environmental Conservation (R&D)/ Preservation (indigenous/medicinal plants and uses, etc.)
10. Wildlife and Conservation (R&D) / Preservation (especially indigenous flora and fauna)
11. Archaelogy, Sri Lankan History, Ancient Sinhalese Culture (Customs and Traditions)
Additionally, the Hantana Hills, Hunnasgiriya / Knuckles Mountain Ranges, Mahaweli River, Kandy Lake, Victoria / Randenigala Reservoir area, Digana Golf links, Asgiriya and Pallekele Cricket grounds, Police Grounds, Udawatte Kele and Dunumadalawa Forest trails, etc can be utilised to promote selective tourism such as:

1. Education (in all of the 11 areas given above and more)
2. Land sports (golf, biking, roller blading, skateboarding, hiking, etc)
3. Wind sports (wind surfing, paragliding, parachuting, ballooning, etc)
4. Adventure sports (rock climbing, bungee jumping, zip lining, camping, etc)
5. Water sports (canoeing, kayaking, diving, wind surfing, etc)
6. Medical and Healthy living (R&D facilities and orthopedic recovery with Ayurveda treatments, spas, yoga, meditation, etc)

Other sports facilities (badminton, swimming, TT, boxing, volleyball, kabaddi, martial arts, tennis, squash, bowling, etc) could be made available for the star national athletes to train with an indoor stadium, encouraging even residents and visitors to engage in healthy past-times. South Asian Regional sporting events can be promoted utilising this complex. The Convention Centre can be utilised to promote Cultural events as well as the arts. Buddhism, the archaelogical significance and culture, traditions, customs and the once bio-diversely rich environment can be preserved and promoted. Employment opportunities in diverse sectors will arise with this controlled and selective development.

Lush vegetation with vertical gardens and sustainable energy solutions including solar power will ensure a healthy population that thrives in a DECONGESTED environment. Embracing the cultural diversity with all the modern infrastructure trappings required for the younger generations to evolve into contemporary, responsible, civic minded human beings will ensue. The elusive “Kandyan Hospitality that is unique to the hills and valleys of Kandy will prevail and Senkadagalapura can once again be a harmonious blend of the ancient and new.

Advertising Rates

Please contact the advertising office on 011 - 2479521 for the advertising rates.