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Nugawela Walauwa (Mansion Kandy)

Also known as Beragama Walauwa & Manor House Kandy

The hotel Mansion Nugawela is a place in the hill country of Sri Lanka to spend a lavish holiday. The mansion belonged to an aristocratic family in Kandy who were believed to have lived a lavish lifestyle during the early 90s.

The original Beragama Walauwa was built in the 1850’s by the late K. Nugawela. It was situated on the present lawn, on the upper level and its surroundings of approximately five acres, until the new Walauwa was built This Walauwa was inherited by Punchi Banda Nugawela, Diyawadana Nilame of the “Temple of the Tooth” in Kandy, for almost 27 years, until his demise in 1937. The head of the Nugawela family served as Adigar, the King’s Chief Minister, and was knighted by the British Empire.

He decided on building a ‘modern’ type of Walauwa with European architecture, blending it with the traditional Sinhala culture, using indigenous material and latent ideas. He was responsible for designing and building the present Preaching Hall and Museum at the Kandy Maligawa.

In 1921, the construction of the present Walauwa was begun. It was his desire to have a house that one could drive a vehicle, to both upstairs as well as downstairs! Thus people could enter via the lower portico and depart by the upper portico. He also wanted to connect the new Walauwa to the old Walauwa. Work on the new Walauwa began in early 1922 and was completed in 1924.

The Walauwa and the new building also joined in harmony via the upper portico.
Punchi Banda Nugawela moved in with his daughters to the new Walauwa and his three sons used the old Walauwa as ‘Bachelors Quarters’. The old Walauwa was finally demolished in 1952.

In the early twenties, this new Walauwa was one of its kind. A unique house both for space and design. All the furniture was designed and made to suit the architecture. Most of the timber was Rangoon Teak. The floor downstairs was of Italian marble. The balustrades upstairs and sides of stairways were of different Sri Lanka timber. The walls were brick and cement. The Dome over the upper drawing room ceiling was made from different glass to reflect soft lighting.

Nugawela entertained on a grand scale and lavish style. Mahathma Gandhi stayed in this house in November 1928, occupying the large bed room adjoining the main stairway. It was common sight to see a baby elephant visit the dining room to snatch a banana from a guest. Gregory Peck, the actor, used this house when filming ‘Purple Plain’ in 1955.

In 1950, this house was owned by Colonel Derrick Nugawela, who sold it to M.P.S. Marawanagoda. His son, Ratnapala Marawanagoda, decided to convert the Walauwa into a hotel in 1998, as Hotel Mansion Nugwela. A refurbishment was in 2003, by a new management team, Anoma & Enrico (Pvt) Ltd, without changing the main structure of the building, to offer a homely atmosphere with the quality of a “Small luxury Hotel”.

The exclusive entrance to Mansion Nugawela is a masterpiece of woodcraft. The heavy carving done with intense dedication on either side of the main door, symbolise seasonal fruits, grains, venison and fish. The front porch decked with a dazzling view of paddy fields, gives a picturesque setting, beyond the well kept garden with its ancient bird bath. The front entrance gives access to the dining hall to the right and the Billiard room on the left.

On August 15th 2014, the Mansion Kandy was closed for a year for restoration work by a team headed up by Sri Lanka’s leading architect, Channa Daswatte. Currently it is managed by Edward’s Collection under the name Mansion Kandy.

Credit – The Nation, Manor House, Manor House Kandy, Edward’s Collection

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