Ancient houses most often have a grand past and a pervading charm of
a by gone era which captures the heart and transports one back to a
place not easily found amidst contemporary society – urban, suburban or
otherwise. The Godamunne Walauwa is very much one of these grand relics
which provides a window to the gracious life style typical of an
Each area of the house is of purpose and together tells a story of
life in the Walauwa. It is evidently a sanctuary from the hustle and
bustle of life; structured to cocoon and sustain its inhabitants in its
own intrinsic culture and way of life.
The Godamunne family is from the village that bears their name in
the highlands of Hewaheta and was part of the queens establishment
throughout the history of Kandy up until 1815, when the Island fell to
the British and the Monarchy was abolished.
The Godamunne Sakalasuri family came to own land in Ampitiya
Sagamarata where the present Walauwa stands, in 1758 A.D. and 1765 A.D.
through a land grant from the king to Godamunne Sakalasuri and
Godamunne Mudali for “ indomitable courage and skill in war against the
Dutch during their invasion of Kandy. Hence the distinct architectural
similarity of the Walauwa to that of the Dalukgolle temple Ampitiya,
which was a gift by King Kirthi Sri Rajasinghe to the Asgiriya chapter
in 1772 A.D.
Ampitiya was a Katupurulle village i.e a village of the palace
secret service. Hence the land granted by the king to have the family
reside close to the palace - when the Royal residences were relocated
to the buildings behind the present temple of the tooth. Then on the
Godamunne Sakalasurya family maintained two Walauwas: the Maha Walauwa
in Godamunne and the present one in Ampitiya. The family moved
permanently to Ampitiya in 1818, following their proscription and
confiscation of their lands in Godamunne, Hewaheta by the British
colonial Government; for the role they played in supporting the
Godamunne Sakasuri alias The Rebel, led forces of Hewaheta and
Harispattuwa against the British imperial forces in 1818 together with
Arawe Apa. The Walauwa was finally over run, occupied, and razed to the
ground by Capt. Frazer of the imperial forces who is said to have made
an example of the Godamunne’s by the severe punishment meted out to the
While Arawe was banished to the Isle of France, Godamunne was
proscribed and all lands in Hewaheta confiscated. All that withstood
the ravaging forces of the Imperial army in the Godamunne Village were
the Ambalama and the Sagama Rajamaha Viharaya, both of which today
remain conserved and preserved.
The family having lost their lands in Godamunne as well as most of
their Sannas when the original Walauwa was set a blaze in 1818, was not
able to prove owner ship to colonial government of the many other
lands; which thereby fell under the waste lands ordinance of 1848.
Since 1863 the paraveni lands in Ampitiya which were held intact were
subject to partition among the various descendant of the family. And
while many hundreds of acres in the surrounding area have been thus
lost to the extended gardens of the Walauwa, the current owner remains
absolute in his ownership of the remaining land and buildings.
Life at the Wallauwa was always of great orderliness. There was a
time and a place for everything and every body and protocol sacred.
Different clans of people were organized according to function and this
system ensured a consistency of life style and tradition. Life at the
Walauwa was structured in three parallel paradigms: The front area, the
middle sanctum and the back area. These areas were further sub divided
to the Udu Male, and the Palleha Male, which denoted the boundaries of
The front area of the house was reserved for matters of office and
state. For instance the first president of Ceylon was a frequent
visitor being a family friend. A young junior secretary ( at the time )
named Dingiri Banda Wijetunge who was often found a sleep on the front
verandah bench waiting to see Mr. Albert Godamunne; to convey messages
to and from Minister A. Ratnayake must be fondly remembered; as Dingiri
Banda Wijetunge later became the 3 rd executive president of Sri Lanka.
The grand son of Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe who came to seek help from
Albert Godamunne on a matter of land claim and restitution and the
numerous political leaders of the time and Nilames of the Maligawa and
Dewale’s who would visit were the likes of those who were met and
entertained in the front area.
The meda kotuwa or middle sanctum of the Walauwa which was reached
by passing several consecutive doorways which were all curtained, was
strictly reserved for family and entertaining visiting relations. No
more than 3 servants served in this area. They generally spoke only if
they were spoken to and that too in a very hushed tone. The middle
sanctum was a place of absolute peace. Those attending this area were
all females of the Govi wansa. The appuhamy’s would serve at meal times
only and otherwise enter the medakotuwa at 10.00 in the morning and
3.00 in the afternoon for cleaning and purification. They never entered
the rooms off the middle sanctum. The meda kotuwa would be further
purified in the evening by one of the women who would carry an incense
burner from room to room.
The back area of the Walauwa was always a hive of activity; but
again in a most structured and orderly manner. There was the domain of
the men and the women. The kitchens were under the women who again were
of four different groups. Those who attended to work in the upper
kitchen and prepared meals for the gentry and the women of the lower
kitchen who prepared meals for staff. Then there were those who were
expert at preparing sweats and worked generally in the afternoon and
the clan of women who attended to drying paddy, pounding and storing.
These were the female staff of the back area. Then there were the
chamber maids of the Udu Male.
Each clan had a clan leader. And all of them were kept in line
including the chamber maids by the female hamy or the chief female
attendant of the Udu male, who waited on the ladies and children.
The male workers consisted mainly of field staff such as the
cultivator clans who would work the fields, the men who ran the dairy,
those who drew water from the wells and tended the garden, the tree
climber who would see to the picking of coconut, fruit or tapping Kitul
etc. The drivers and helpers and the lamplighter who cleaned the lamps
and polished the brass. There was also a village crew who on notice
attended to all the repairs in the Walauwa. The Appuhamy’s kept all the
male workers in line and attended to the gentry of the house.
Each group’s access was limited to certain physical boundaries of
the house. And though not obvious these were never trespassed. For
instance the clan who worked in the lower kitchen never ventured to any
place at a higher level. The field workers went passed the back garden
but not through any of the back doors of the Wallauwa. However, the
head field worker would come everyday to the bottom of the back stairs
and speak to the lady of the house who would sit at the top of the
stairs and hold audience and take note of complaints issues and general
progress. So did the heads of all the other working clans. They would
climbs mid way up the steps only to worship before they left.
This entire system was held together by a symbiotic relationship
which had come down from one generation to another. All those who
worked for the family were the children of those who had played the
same role over and over with each passing generation. So there was a
deep sense of tradition, loyalty and mutual respect. Every generation
of the Walauwe Handuruwos and those who worked for them had grown up
together. All the workers and their children were looked after by the
Walauwa. And the long arms of the Walauwa made sure they were not alone
in sickness or in old age. And there was great sadness when an old hand
passed away after serving the family for two or three generations. And
to them especially the older ones the demise of a lady or gentlemen of
the Walauwa was akin to the loss of a God Mother or Father. And
similarly when changing economic times forced migration of the noble
ladies and gentlemen to other cities and smaller dwellings, some of the
staff moved with them. Some stayed behind and the younger ones found
new opportunities. But for those who were born to the Waluawa or worked
and was looked after by it, the end of that era has left a vacuum thus
far unfilled. The Walauwa yet remains a place that evokes deep regard
by those whose lives it has touched.
Some Personalities of the Godamunne Walauwa.
- Godamunne Mudali rewarded for bravery
in the war against the Dutch.
- Godamunne Siddhartha Nayake Unnanse of
the Huduhumpola Rajamaha Vihare. Huduhumpala was the seat of Godamunne
priests after Sagama Raja Maha Vihare.
- Ketekalle Tikiri Kumarihamy ( Great
aunt of Tikiri Bandara alias Albert Godamunne) who led the forces of
Uva herself against the British in the battle of Wagolle and Lewella in
October 1803, where the British forces were routed in battle and Muttu
Samy the pretender also killed.
- Rebel Godamunne alias Godamunne Appo
who together with his brother Godamunne Unnanse of Asgiriya joined the
fight against the tyranny of Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe.
- Godamunne Maha Kumarihamy – wife of
Mullegama, Adigar, Disava of Walapane, Disava of Batugedera, and
Nawadun Korale, Disave of Sabaragamuwa, Ihala Dolos Pattu and part of
Nuwara Kalaviya – who had great influence and thus managed to intercede
on behalf of her family after the defeat of the rebellion.
- Godamunne Nagasena – Mahanayake Thero
of the Asgiriya Chapter 1955 -1975.
- Punchi Bandara Godamunne – Magistrate
of the District Court.
- Tikiri Bandara alias Albert Godamunne
– Proctor of the Supreme Court of Ceylon, President of the Kandyan
National assembly – Led representations in this capacity before the
Soulburry Commission with his secretary P.B. Nugawela Disave /
President of the Tri Sinhala Movement, which kindled the flame of
the Kandyans who
suffered under colonial rule. It was Albert Godamunne’s leadership
and guidance that
produced national fighters of a later era such as T.B. Illangaratne
and Kobbekaduwa. These aspects were brought to notice by the Hon. D.M.
Jayaratne, in an article published in the Sunday Times of 2001. A
prolific writer, Albert Godamunne was author of The Sinhala System of
Government and Law, The Buddhist Church after 1815, An Education System
Appropriate for Us, and The Plight of the Kandyan Peasantry – which
resulted in the appointment of the Kandyan Peasantry Commission.
Records of A.C. Lawrie, Gazettier of the Central Province 1873
-1892, Senior Puisne Judge Kandy District, Judge of the Supreme Court
of Ceylon. ( Section under GOD and AMP & HUD.)
P. E. Pieris – Sinhale and The Patriots 1815 -1818, Lake House
Engirisi Hatana and Massacre of Lewella - Times of Ceylon 1956.
Diary of John D’Oily
Twentieth Century Impressions of Ceylon – Gresham press London.
Jungle Journeys in Ceylon – Iris Darnton. ( prints of Albert