Kappina Walawwa of Gamperaliya fame | Sunday Observer

Kappina Walawwa of Gamperaliya fame

5 September, 2021

If you have watched Gamperaliya, a film directed by the late Dr. Lester James Peiris based on the novel Gamperaliya by the late author Martin Wickramasinghe, you would definitely remember the Kayisaruwatte Muhandiram’s house.

The spacious house with its long outdoor porch with large towers was built according to ancient Dutch architecture and was known as the Maha Kappina Walawwa.

This house was one of the oldest houses in the Southern Province and gave shade to a generation with a history dating back to the ancient Anuradhapura era.

According to historical sources, the history of the Kappina dynasty dates back to the Anuradhapura Kingdom. A person named Isurumuni Kappina, who came here with the group that brought the Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi, had come to the Welitota area in Balapitiya.


This dynasty later helped King Seethawaka Rajasinghe during the Portuguese period and at that time the chief of this dynasty was an aristocrat named Kappina Senanayake.

He was a mighty warrior and was later ordered to be executed by king Rajasinghe due to a dispute with the latter. The king is said to have announced that he would give gifts to anyone who killed Senanayake and brought his head.

Also, during the Portuguese rule in Ceylon, the area from Puttalam to Kumbukkan Oya was divided into six ports (a regional administrative unit) and the chiefs of the four ports of Welitara, Welisara and Kaluwamodara were those from the Kappina dynasty.

In addition, key positions in the Mahabadde (an institution similar to the Bureau) in cinnamon cultivation were held by those who lived in the Maha Kappina Walawwa.

Adriyan de Abrew Wijayagunaratne Mudaliyar, who lived in the Maha Mudali Walawwa (now Kuppiyawatta Jayashekararamaya) in Maligakanda, Colombo, owned the areas of Slave Island, Kollupitiya, Cinnamon Gardens, Borella and Maradana and cultivated cinnamon.

In addition, the section from Templers Road to Watarappola Road in Mt. Lavinia is said to be the largest land where the Mudali had a cinnamon plantation.


He is also said to be the first Sinhalese judge to be appointed to a jury by the British and was the only one to have the permission to use a 12-member security force as well as a chariot with four horses other than the then British Governor.

Also, he was the only one who had the opportunity to meet the royals while the last king of Ceylon, Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe, and the two queens were being held in Colombo under the protection of the British, and accordingly he was the only one who was allowed to supply the royal family with food and clothing.

After his death at the age of 57 in 1824, he was succeeded by his cousin, Adrian de Abrew Wijayagunaratne Rajapaksa (Junior). In 1830, the cinnamon monopoly came under his control and he had the honour of being the first Ceylonese to be authorised to export cinnamon. He married Caroline de Zoysa Wijayasiriwardena, who lived in Maha Kappina Walawwa.

New model of Walawwa Land

About 100 metres away on the road between the Balapitiya Young Buddhist Association and the Teachers’ Training College on the Colombo-Galle highway, the land where the Maha Kappina Walawwa is located can be reached.

The Walawwa which was changed according to contemporary architecture in different eras, was last modified by Adrian Rajapaksha Mudaliyar according to Dutch architecture.

Built by Adrian Rajapaksha, the new palace had a three- sided porch with large pillars that reflected Dutch architecture. It also had a large kitchen with three living rooms and a large dining room, including a central courtyard, bedrooms, bathrooms, and living room, as well as rooms reserved for staff.

Next to the Walawwa there was a stable built for Mudaliyar’s horses and a two storied shrine room was also built where they worshipped the Buddha.

Samson Rajapaksha

Samson Rajapaksha was born on December, 30, 1830, the only son of Adrian Rajapaksha, and was named “Samson” in memory of a British captain who was close to Adrian Rajapaksha.

Samson learnt Sinhala from Ven. Balapitiye Dheerananda Thera when he was a child and then joined the Royal College in Colombo 7, then known as the Colombo Academy, where he studied English.

He later returned to his hometown and studied Buddhist philosophy from Ven. Kahawe Gnanananda and Ven. Lankagoda Dheerananda Theras.


Samson married Johanna Dorothea from Lunupokuna Walawwa in 1856 and shortly afterwards, however, he was deeply saddened by the untimely death of his wife and two children and remarried to a cousin at the strong request of his parents. From that marriage they had two children.

Samson donated lands for various social causes and fully sponsored the construction of the clock tower at Galle Fort in recognition of Dr. Peter Daniel Athanasius’s service to the people of Galle.

He also donated land for the construction of the Balapitiya Hospital in 1887 and took the initiative to rebuild the Kotduwa Temple on an island in the middle of the Maadu River. He was later appointed Justice of the Peace in Ceylon in 1876 in recognition of his social service and was promoted to the rank of Wasala Mudali. He passed away on January 26, 1888.

Samson’s only son was Tudor Nathaniel Rajapaksha alias Tudor Rajapaksha. He married Francis Lily Lamathani, a daughter of Magdalene John de Silva Rajapaksha Mudaliyar in Negombo in 1898, and had three children, Briatrius Sheila, Hubert Rajapaksa and Tudor Lancelot. Ten acres of his lands were donated for the construction of the Katunayake Airport and he also donated the land required for the establishment of the Balapitiya Young Buddhist Association and constructed a building there.

He also donated a maternity ward at the Negombo Hospital in memory of his father-in-law. Towards the end of his life, on March 4, 1956, he consecrated the Maha Kappina Walawwa and the land so that it could be used only for Upasampada activities.

Current status

The Maha Kappina Walawwa, was later used to shoot several films and teledramas such as Gamperaliya. It was, however, destroyed due to improper maintenance and today there is a temple built on the land as a model of the Walawwa.

Named as Balapitiya Maha Kappina Walawwa Seema Malaka Vihara, it is considered to be the headquarters of the.