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The ancient Manor house of Monarawila Keppitipola Dissawe

DN: 2004: Monarawila Keppitipola Dissawe or Kepppitipola, the great, was a leader of the national insurrection of 1818. The life story and his services are recorded in the history of Sri Lanka and the war records of the British Colonial Government.

Monarawila Keppitpola Dissawe lived in his own ancestral residence at Monarawila near Pallepola and later that residence was converted into a Buddhist shrine.

As a very responsible officer at the king's palace of Kandy, he had to travel once a week or more to Kandy for his official work.

Therefore he had built another residence at Hulangamuwa, Matale to rest and change the horses for his cart, on his way from Monarawila to Kandy and return from Kandy to Monarawila off Pallepola, in the Matale district.

According to family records he had built this Manor according to the instructions of the royal astrologer, "Ratrangedera Devendra Mulachariya" of Kotmale. The astrologer used "Maya Mathaya" as his hand book.

After the horoscope of the founder was checked, the soil was tested for porosity, colour, compactness, smell and taste etc. The foundation stone was laid by Monarawila Keppitipola Dissawe at the auspicious time.

This house was built in three stages and stage one facing the east, was built with stone and clay by Keppitipola the great. Thick walls and small window openings have a majestic look.

The second part of this mansion has been built by his grandson Muthu Banda Keppitipola Dissawe. This is a two storeyed building with all the facilities. This was built with brick and lime mixture. The height of this portion is 40 ft and the width of a wall is 16 inches. It is noteworthy that cement has not been used for this building.

The roof and all the windows are made of expensive wood. There are two staircases for the upper floor, one is from the front and the other staircase is fixed on the rear side.

There are two front entrances made in the shape of a horse shoe. There is another couple of entrances with portable doors from the verandah to the drawing room. The floor of the upper story has been made of expensive wood. There are two balconies and wooden fences fixed on the rear balcony as well as front balcony.

It is said that the elephants of Maha Dissawe came into the dining hall and Dissawe treated them with bananas and rice cakes.

The manor house is roofed with ancient Sinhala tiles and the reefs, rafters, and laths are not similar to any of the contemporary mansions in the upcountry.

The third stage of this mansion too, is a two storeyed portion, built by Muthu Banda Keppitipola Dissawe, the grandson of Keepitipola the great. Specially he had made that portion for the wedding of his son, and later he had used this part as a court of law for the villagers.

Many British officers have visited this manor during the colonial rule of Sri Lanka. So, the traditional manor house of Monarawila Keppitipola Dissawe is a unique place.

- Dr. Mirando Obeysekere