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Sri Lanka Sinhala Family Genealogy

Godamunne Family #3177

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 aristocratic residence.

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 Wellissa Rebellion:

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 family.

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 servitude.

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 / Diyawadana Nilame.

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 publications.

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 Godamunne’s wedding)