An abundant dream Castle of an Aesthete in Colonial Era (Richmond Castle)

By : Viraj Rathnapriya
Contact the Author :
Year & Month Number of Days Crew Weather Transport
May, 2007 1 4 Sunny Train
Trip Route
Colombo/ Veyangoda ->Kalutara (by train)->Palatota -> Richmond Park Estate and return home using the same route

Travel Tips, Travel Notes and Special remarks
  • Be aware on train schedule
  • You can visit famous Calido beach@ Kalutara if time permits. Otherwise you have to satisfy with visiting Kaluthara Pagoda, an engineering excellence of Dr. A.N. Kulasinghe.

The small bus was crowded to avoid seen even our own shoes. It moved forward just a little bit faster than a bullock. In the middle of the journey, we were confused bit whether we had passed the junction we intend to get off. As a security step we had already asked the conductor to remind the same when we reached our destination. But with the high load of passengers, he could easily forget what we asked at the beginning. But the conductor remind us to get off at the correct place, impressing that we were not unlucky,

From Platota junction onwards, we had to walk at about 1.5km to reach the Richmond Park Estate. Our destination was the Richmond Castle, a fine country house in a 42-acre fruit garden estate built in 1896. It was said to be one of the biggest mansions in Sri Lanka.

Memories of colonial era…

Main entrance


History of the Castle with an outside source of information:

At Palataota, in a little inland, is Richmond Castle, a fine country house in a 42-acre fruit garden estate. Built in 1896, it originally belonged to landowner turned philanthropist NDA Silva Wijayasinghe, the local Padikara Mudaliyar (village leader) & was used during the British period as a circuit bungalow for officials. It is said that ‘Governor George Anderson was requested by the royal family of England to appoint a battalion of 40 soldiers to guard the castle and its occupants.

This magnificent hybrid of Indian & British architecture was originally a spice plantation mansion, built for the Padikara Mudaliyar, a wealthy regional governor, who copied the plans of an Indian Maharaja’s palace designed by a London architect.

Note the audience hall, with intricately carved pillars & beams (two shiploads of teak were brought from Burma for its construction) & a spiral staircase leading to a gallery of some fascinating photographs from the time.

Today, Richmond Castle is a popular tourist attraction, and serves as an educational centre for less privileged children of Kalutara and the vicinity. The house & grounds are open to the public. It makes a good canoeing or bike track with riverside picnic.

First Statue You Meet…
Another Statue

Richmond Castle was a two-storied building with 99 doors and 34 windows, decorated with glass panes embossed grape vines. It was said that two shiploads of teak were imported from Burma for the construction of the same.

Front elevation of the castle…
( Forget about the living statue in front of the same)

The entire building was decorated with intricate carvings. There was a dancing hall with a stage as an added feature. There were tiny holes at the floor of dancing room, to provide a continuous flow of cool air from the bank of Kulu River.

Side view of the castle

Another Statue…

A colorful glazed window frame

It was said that the architecture applied there was greater similarity to an English mansion than to an ancient “walauwwa”. Since the Mudaliyar was a lover of nature, he had decorated the garden with blooming plants and marble statues. Some of the statues were still stand.

Rear elevation of the castle ( been repaired )


Rear elevation…

An article published in a newspaper.

Folklore said the Mudliyar was childless and not happy in marriage. At the end of his marriage, he devised his dream castle to the Public Trustee for the welfare of the children of the country. And he breathed his last in 1947 lonely, in a room at the Queen’s Hotel- Kandy.

Have a Safe Journey!

Usually “Ambalam” were built in a chosen spots such as by the side of a paddy field or stream

Commonly “Ambalam” were simple buildings built by villagers on co-operative basis. They were consisted with a hipped type tiled roof on few timber or masonry columns. Perimeter walls were short and formed a seat for resting known as “Pila”.

Few were built totally with timber structures. In such a case, the Ambalama was built on four rock boulders to prevent from termite attacks. Panavitiya (or Panapitiya) was one of the said few.


Chamila(My wife) & I visited Panavitiya few months ago. Finding the Panavitiya Ambalama was not difficult although there was no sign board on the main road (Negombo-Kurunegala). The turn-off was nearly 3km before reaching Narammala town, where the road leading to the Matiyagana School. Having traveling another few kilometers we had to turn left again.

we reached the Archeological site passing a temple

“Sri Lanka Thilakaramaya“ the temple @ Panavitiya

With nearly 4km drive from the main road, we reached the Archeological site passing a temple. In the first moment, having seen the outside appearance of the Ambalama, I was also confused as like as most of the previous travelers, whether we had reached the correct place. But once we entered in to the shelter, we could discover the wonder of wood carvings that Panavitiya was so famous for.

The boutique located in front of the Archeological site


Little confused having seen the outside appearance of the Ambalama

wonders of wood carvings

Inside view

Beams, rafters & ridge plate

A dancer??

Column heads & wall plates

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