Sri Jayawardenapura Kotte (Sinhala: ශ්රී ජයවර්ධනපුර කෝට්ටේ, Tamil: ஶ்ரீ ஜெயவர்த்தனபுரம் கோட்டை), also known as Kotte කෝට්ටේ / கோட்டை, is a large suburb of the capital Colombo and is the parliament site of Sri Lanka. It is located beyond the Colombo city centre and is often called New Capital Territory
The village of Darugama lay at the confluence of two streams, the Diyawanna Oya and the Kolonnawa Oya. As Darugama was a naturally secure place, it was not easy for enemies to enter it. Here, in the 13th century, a chieftain named Nissanka Alagakkonara built a fortress called Kotte (meaning 'Fortress')
Alagakkonara is mentioned by Ibn Batuta as ruling in Kurunegala, but other sources indicate that he was the Bandara (Guardian) of Raigama Korale (county) in the modern Kalutara District. Arya Chakravarthy's army was held by Alagakkonara in front of Kotte, while he defeated the enemy's invasion fleet at Panadura to the south-west.
Kotte was a jala durgha (water fortress), in the shape of a triangle, with the Diyawanna Oya and Kolonnawa Oya marshes forming two long sides; along the shorter third (land) side a large moat (the 'inner moat') was dug. The fortress was nearly 2.5 km² (1 sq. mile) in area, fortified with ramparts of kabook or laterite rock, 2.5 m high and 10.7 m in breadth.
In 1391, following the conquest of the Jaffna Kingdom by Prince Sapumal (Sembahap Perumal), Kotte was given the epithet 'Sri Jayawardhanapura' ('resplendent city of growing victory'). It became the capital of the ancient Kingdom of Kotte, which it remained until the end of the 16th century.
From the ramparts to the magnificent three storied buildings that housed the Kings Palace, Laterite and clay were the main raw material used in its construction. One of the places from which the laterite blocks were mined, could be seen even today inside the Ananda Sasthralaya (a local school) premises.
The main features of the capital city were -
- The King's palace, with walls of quartz that sparkle in the moonlight (candrakanta pasana) and a golden spire, with beautiful flower gardens and springs of water.
- The three storeyed Dalada Maligawa with Buddha's sacret tooth relic in it (Temple of the tooth)
- The Five storeyed "Arama" where sixty Buddhist Bhikkus resided, with a Sangha Nayaka (a high priest)as the chief incumbent.
- The Kings Treasure House
- The 'Kotavehara' at Baddagana, the only Buddhist temple of the city outside the moat and rampart.
- The Royal cemetery at Beddagana (Veherakanda memorial)
- The 'Angampitiya', the military parade and training ground just inside the inner moat.
The Portuguese arrived on the island in 1505 and were initially welcomed by the king. But they had militaristic and monopolistic intentions and gained control of the city by 1565. Failing to withstand repeated assaults by the forces of the neighbouring kingdom of Sitawaka, the city was abandoned by the Portuguese, who made Colombo their new capital.
Like similar cities of that era, Sri Jayawardhanapura was built with security in mind. A rampart and moat protected the entire city. Traces of this moat and rampart are still visible today at certain places. Along parts of the rampart, encroachers have now built houses, garages and even toilets.
The urbanisation of Kotte restarted in the 19th century. The archaeological remains were torn up and used as building materials (a process that continues) — some of it even ending up in the Victoria Bridge, across the Kelani River.
The New Parliament was inaugurated on 29 April 1982. It was built once a massive lake was formed by dredging the marshlands around the Diyawanna Oya. The new parliamentary buildings were built on Duwa, a 50,000 square metre (12 acre) island in the centre of the lake. The island (off Baddegana Road, Pita Kotte) had been used as a recreation and brawling spot for Portuguese soldiers in the last days of the Kotte era, alcohol being banned from the Royal City. It had belonged to E.W. Perera and had housed a chicken farm prior to being vested in the state. On 29 April 1982, the new parliamentary complex was declared open by the former president J.R. Jayawardene.
The process of relocating government institutions from the former capital of Colombo is still in progress.
The Kotte Urban Development Council was created in the 1930s, with a modern building at Rajagiriya. It was succeeded by the Kotte Urban Council, which had a large section of its area removed and tagged onto the Colombo Municipal Council ward of Borella while the Battaramulla urban council was dissolved and a small section of Battaramulla tagged onto the Kotte Urban Council. The Kotte Urban Council became the Sri Jayawardanapura Kotte Municipal Council in 1997, with Chandra Silva as the first Mayor.
There are 20 Members of the Municipal Council (MMCs), elected on proportional representation. There are 10 wards, but these are now merely polling divisions, without individual representation.
- Ethul Kotte
- Pita Kotte
Kotte is a multi-ethnic, multi-religious urban. The population of Kotte is mainly Sinhalese, with a mix of Tamils, Muslims, Malays and Burghers (most of the Muslims and Indian Tamils living in the Rajagiriya area). There are small communities of people with Chinese, Malay and Indian origins living here as well as a small foreign expatriate community. According to the census of 2001 the demographics by ethnicity and religion is as follows.
|Sri Lankan Tamil||6,583||5.68%|
|Sri Lankan Moor||4,031||3.48%|
|Sri Lankan Chetty||65||0.06%|
The only major railway station is at Nugegoda, on the Kelani Valley Line. Also at Nugegoda is the city's main bus terminus. There are subsidiary bus stands at Pita Kotte and Welikada. This urban area is well served by buses and there is a major CTB bus depot at Udahamulla.
A Passenger boat service is being finalised and would commence adjacent to Parliament Junction at Bataramulla and end at the Wellawatte canal near Marine drive. Each journey would take around 30 minutes. It would have stations at the Kotte Marsh, Nawala, Open University, Apollo Hospital, Duplication road, Wellawatte and at St Peter's College, Colombo. The Srilanka Navy is currently conducting a pilot project between the Open University and Wellawatte.
There is a dedicated Eye & ENT hospital at Rajagiriya, and another Maternity hospital under construction in Nawala. A small private health centre, the Blue Cross Hospital at Rajagiriya, provides basic facilities for medical diagnostics, and there is a small nursing home in Park Lane, Welikada, much patronised by Maldivians.
There are a number of State and Private Schools in Kotte. They are either "National schools" (run by the central government), "Government schools" (run by the Provincial Councils), Semi-government/Private schools or International schools (run by trusts and individuals).
The second oldest in the island, formerly known as Christian College is located in Ethul Kotte. The Ananda Sastralaya at Pita Kotte, is the oldest Buddhist school in the city.
The Education Ministry as well as the Department of Examinations is based here.
A considerable number of the students living within the zone study at government owned colleges and International schools in Colombo.
Located at Nawala is the Open University, Sri Lanka and at Nugegoda is the University of Sri Jayewardenepura. Public Libraries are conveniently located, and can be found at Nugegoda and Rajagiriya.
The Kotte Municipal Council is responsible for road maintenance and door-to-door garbage collection in the zone. They also are responsible for keeping Storm drains clean to cope with the heavy Tropical rains.
The largest telephone service provider is Sri Lanka Telecom, which previously held a monopoly over fixed line services, and provides fixed line as well as mobile services through its subsidiary Mobitel. Cell phone coverage is extensive, and the main service providers are Dialog, Mobitel, Etisalat, Airtel and Hutch. Both GSM and CDMA services are available in this zone and Broadband internet penetration is increasing. Dialog, Mobitel, Etisalat, Airtel and Hutch supplies the city with 3.5G mobile solutions.
Electricity is provided by the Lanka Electricity Co. Ltd.
Sri Jayawardenapura Kotte features a tropical rainforest climate, with little variation in temperatures throughout the course of the year. The city does feature wetter and drier months, with February on average being its driest month (seeing on average 63 mm of precipitation). However, since none of the average monthly precipitation falls below 60 mm, Sri Jayawardenapura Kotte falls under the tropical rainforest climate category.
|Avg Temp °C |
|Precipitation centimetres |
Sports and recreation
Cricket is the most popular sport in this urban area as well as the country and is usually played in the grounds around the city.
Football was at one time the most popular sport in the Colombo area, although it was eclipsed by Cricket after 1980. Four separate football clubs (Lido, Welikada Progress, Welikada Red Star and Welikada United) once used the EW Perera Park grounds at Welikada, Rajagiriya where a pavilion was constructed in the 1970s. However, when the grounds were destroyed by the JR Jayawardene regime in the late 1970s, the football clubs disappeared. Football continued to be played at the grounds at Obeysekerapura in Rajagiriya.
In the 1990s the Kotte Municipal Council constructed the Chandra Silva Stadium, to replace the EW Perera Grounds. Part of the grounds was sold and later used to construct the HSBC building. In 2007 the Municipality, with aid from the Ministry of Urban Development, completed the first stage of the new Chandra Silva Stadium on the site of a rubbish dump behind the HSBC building.
Recently, football has once more grown in popularity, and the sport now has a considerable following. The football association's new training facility at Kotte is aimed at harnessing and developing the available talent and organizing the individual players into a cohesive team. It includes a football playground with a sprinkler system, gym and a host of other facilities.
Other sports are mostly played in the numerous clubs and gyms, and include tennis, squash, billiards, horse riding, indoor cricket, badminton and table tennis. Horse riding can be pursued at the Premadasa Riding School in Nugegoda.
Tissa Abeysekara the eminent film personality was a notable resident and was the only public figure to be cremated at the police grounds in Welikada where he lived.
Dr George Nelson Perera lived in Sri Jayawardenapura Kotte. He established urology as a specialty in Sri Lanka in 1955. Perera started his career as a general surgeon and returned to the country after overseas training and was appointed as the genitourinary surgeon of the General hospital Colombo (now the National Hospital of Sri Lanka). He concentrated mainly on open urological procedures and endoscopy was reserved mainly as a diagnostic procedure. As experienced by his western counterparts, he faced a fair degree of resistance from the general surgeons who shared a similar practice and did not like the idea of parting with it. It was legendary that they even went to the extent of seeking legal assistance against Dr Perera for including hydrocelectomy in his range of procedures. They were bitterly convinced at a court of law by Dr Perera that "anything hanging between the thighs in a male falls within the range of a genitourinary surgeon." His ward strength was a mere 10 beds and he had to share operating time with the general surgeons and obstetricians. Find out more about Dr G.N Perera at www.slaus.org/history/index.html.
Citations and notes
- "Sri Lanka: A Country Study.". Russell R. Ross and Andrea Matles Savada. http://countrystudies.us/sri-lanka/7.htm. Retrieved 2007-02-26.
- Edmund Jayasuriya (Tr), sälaḷihini sandeśa of Toṭagamuve Srī Rāhula Thera, Colombo: Central Cultural Fund, 2002, ISBN 955-613-144-2
- "European encroachment and dominance". U.S. Library of Congress. http://countrystudies.us/sri-lanka/8.htm,. Retrieved 2007-02-26.[dead link]
- "Canal transport to ease traffic pile up .". Chanuka Mannapperuma. http://www.sundayobserver.lk/2005/07/10/new36.html. Retrieved 2005-07-10.
- "National training centre for Football at Beddegana". Sri Lanka Football. Archived from the original on 2006-11-17. http://web.archive.org/web/20061117155745/http://www.srilankafootball.com/ffsl/goal_project2.shtml. Retrieved 2007-02-26.
- History of Sri Lankan Urology and the Sri Lanka Association of Urological Surgeons (SLAUS)