Royal Palace of Kandy

The Royal Palace of Kandy

The Royal Palace of Kandy (Maligawa) in Kandy, was the royal residence of the Sinhalese monarchy of the Kingdom of Kandy in Sri Lanka. The last king to reside in it was King Sri Vikrama Rajasinha until he was overthrown by the British in 1815 with the aid of Kandian chieftains. Once part of a large palace complex that included the King's Palace (Raja Wasala), Royal Audience Hall (Magul Maduwa), Queen's Palace (Meda Wasala), King's Harem Quarters (Palle Vahale) and Queen's Bathing Pavilion (Ulpange), together with the Temple of the Tooth (Sri Dalada Maligawa) that held the Relic of the tooth of the Buddha. By ancient tradition the one who was in possession of the Tooth Relic had claim to the throne. Adjacent to the Royal Palace is the Victorian era building that until recently housed Kandy High Court.


The first palace was built by King Vickramabahu III (1357-1374) and by Senasamatha Vickramabahu (1469-1511) of the Kingdom of Gampola. Vimaladharmasuriya I (1592 – 1603) also occupied this palace thereafter and each of them made various improvements to the existing palace.

During the period of King Senarat (1603 – 1634), the Portuguese attacked the Kandyan Kingdom and destroyed the palace. Rajasinha II who ascended to the throne in 1634 rebuilt it and all the subsequent kings until 1815 (the year which the kingdom fell under British rule), used this as their Royal Palace. By the time of the last king, Sri Vickrama Rajasinha (1797 – 1814) the palace consisted of many buildings scattered spread among the premises.

There were three wahalkadas (gateways) and a 8 feet (2.4 m) high wall used as main entrances. The section of the palace facing the Natha Devale is said to be the oldest.

Raja Wasala

On to the right of the Magul Maduwa, at the northern end of the palace complex is the Raja Wasala or King's Palace. It is a long building with a central doorway, with a flight of steps entering in to an imposing hall decorated with stucco and terra-cotta work. Rooms are found in the two long wings with a long verandah facing the inner courtyard. During the beginning of the British period, it was used by Government Agent Sir John D'Oyly. D'Oyly successors continued to use it as their official residence. The building is now being used as a Museum of the Department Archaeology.

Maha Maluwa

The Maha Maluwa or Great Terrace is an open park area (approximately 0.4 ha (0.99 acres)) located in front of the Temple of the Tooth. The site was the threshing ground of a large paddy field, that is the Kandy Lake today. According to local folklore when King Wimala Dharmasuriya wanted to select a site for his capital astrologers advised him to select the site of the threshing floor which was frequented by a Kiri Mugatiya (white mongoose).

At one end of the square is a stone pillar memorial, which contains the skull of Keppetipola Disawe, a national Sinahalese hero, a prominent leader of the Uva rebellion of 1818, who attempted to wrest back the country from the British and was executed for his role in the rebellion. The park also contains a statue of Madduma Bandara and a statute of Princess Hemamali and Prince Danthakumara, who according to legend brought the tooth of Buddha to Sri Lanka.

Magul Maduwa

The Magul Maduwa or Royal Audience Hall, is where the king met his ministers and carried out his daily administrative tasks. The building was also known as the “Maha Naduwa” or Royal Court. The construction of this finely carved wooden building was commenced by the King Sri Vikrama Rajasinha (1779 – 1797) in 1783.

The Magul Maduva was utilised as a place of public audience and figured as a centre of religious and national festivities connected with the Kandyan Court. The area was where the tooth relic (Dalada) was occasionally exhibited from public veneration and it was at the Maha Maluva that the King received the Ambassadors from other countries.

The current building is an extension to the original 18 m (59 ft) by 10.9 m (36 ft) structure, undertaken by the British to facilitate the welcome of Prince Albert Edward, Prince of Wales in 1872. The British removed 32 carved wooden columns from the “Pale Vahale” building replacing them with brick pillars. Out of these, 16 pillars were used to extend the “Magul Maduwa” by 9.6 m (31 ft), with 8 pillars on each side and the old decayed bases replaced by new wooden bases. With this addition, the building has two rows of elegantly carved pillars, each row having 32 columns. A Kandyan style roof rests upon these columns.

It was here on 5 March 1815 the Kandyan Convention was signed between the British and the Kandyian Chieftains (Radalas) ending the Kingdom of Kandy, the last native kingdom of the island.[1]

Wadahindina Mandappe

This is the palace where the king used to rest while adigars and other visitors awaiting for him. Foreign visitors were able to meet the king in this palace. It is situated near the Raja wasala and Magul maduwa. Today this building is used as Raja tuskera museum.

Inside the Rajah Tusker Hall are the stuffed remains of Rajah, the Maligawa or chief elephant in the Kandy Esala Perahera, who died in 1988. The building is just north of the Temple of the Tooth but within the same compound.

Palle Vahale

The Palle Vahale or Lower Palace[2][3] was constructed during the Sri Vickrama Rajasingha era and was used as the quarters of the harem of the King of Kandy.[4]

The main doorway to the structure leads to a small hall in front of the central building; on eitherside are two wings. Inner verandahs on all four sides face an inner central courtyard.

In 1942 the building was converted into the National Museum of Kandy, and is currently maintained by the Department of National Museums.[5]

Meda Wasala

To the north of the Palle Vahale, is the Meda Wasala or Queens' Chambers. Although smaller in size, it is similar in architectural character to the Palle Wasala. The western doorway leads to a small open courtyard, with verandahs surrounding it. The building is currently used by the Kandy office of the National Department of Archaeology.

Ran Ayuda Maduwa

Beyond the Meda Wasala is the Ran Ayuda Maduwa or Royal Armoury. The building has a central porch of timber columns. It is currently used for the District Courts of Kandy.


The Ulpange or Queen's Bathing Pavilion is situated on the edge of Kandy Lake, near the Temple of the Tooth. It was constructed in 1806, originally as a stone built bathing pond and used by the queens of Sri Vikrama Rajasinha. After the British captured the city the building was later altered by adding another storey, in keeping with the traditional Kandyan architecture, and converted to a library. It is currently used a police post.


  1. "City of Kandy, Sri Lanka". 2014-06-20. Retrieved 2016-10-29.
  2. Wimaladharma, Kapila P. (2003). Women in the Kandyan Kingdom of the Seventeenth Century Sri Lanka: A Study in the Application of Gender Theory in Historical Analysis. Varuni Publishers. p. 121. ISBN 9789555660013.
  3. "Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Sri Lanka,". 45-46. Colombo: Royal Asiatic Society of Sri Lanka. 2000: 110–111.
  4. Seneviratna, Anuradha (1983). Kandy: An Illustrated Survey of Ancient Monuments with Historical, Arcaeological and Literary Descriptions including maps of the City and it's suburbs. Central Cultural Fund, Ministry of Cultural Affairs. p. 79.
  5. "National Museum, Kandy". Department of National Museums. Retrieved 25 May 2015.
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