- A Landmark of Kalutara -
Richmond Castle, built at the turn of the century in Kalutara, is considered one of the most spectacular architectural works of the period. It was the property of a wealthy landowner turned philanthropist, Padikara Mudali Nanayakkara Rajawasala Appuhamilage Don Arthur de Silva Wijesinghe Siriwardena. The mansion stands majestically at top of a hill, on a 42 acre estate beside the Kalutara-Palatota Road. Once a circuit bungalow for high ranking officers of the British administrative service, today it is a popular tourist attraction, and serves as an educational centre for less privileged children of Kalutara and the vicinity.
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. Padikara Mudali, as he was known, had a 12-strong staff known as mudaliyars.
Richmond Castle is a two-storeyed building with 99 doors and 34 windows, decorated with glass panes of exquisite design depicting grape vines. Records indicate that two shiploads of teak were imported from Burma for its construction.
The entire building is characterised by intricate carvings. The timber remains as fresh as at the time of construction. A dancing hall with a stage is another of its features. The architecture shows greater similarity to an English mansion than to an ancient walauwwa.
The gardens which once boasted a profusion of flowers have now given way to trees like coconut, mangosteen, veralu, guava, mango, rambutan and various citrus fruits. The mudaliyar was a lover of nature, and adorned his garden with marble statues, some of which still stand. However he was not happy in marriage, for he was childless. Having ended his marriage, he bequeathed his properties to the Public Trustee for the welfare of the children of the country. He took up residence in a quiet room at the Queen's Hotel, Kandy, where he breathed his last in 1947.
Sunday Observer, March 30, 2003
Entered April 12, 2007