The King’s Pavilion which was commonly known as the Governor’s Pavilion is located in Kandy close to the sacred Temple of the Tooth in the center of the city of Kandy at the head of the Pavilion Street. Through the gardens with trees, shrubs, lawns, paths, fountains and arbors, towards the house, which was the Residence of Ceylon’s Governor in Kandy.
It is a neo-classical two-storied house with nine bays: pilasters and port couchère on the ground floor; balustraded parapets along the top of first floor, porte-cochère and under first floor windows.
After the British gained control of the Kandyan Kingdom in 1815 by the Kandyan Convention it governed the former Kandyan Kingdom as a protectorate. However following the Uva Rebellion, three years later in which Kandy was captured by the rebels, the British moved to combined both parts of the island under a central administration. Kandy remained an important city second only to the capital Colombo.
Therefore a European-style palace was constructed in the late 18th century for the use of the British Governor of Ceylon during his visits to the city. This was used for hosting Royal visits to Kandy, most notably that of Albert Edward, Prince of Wales, in 1875.
On December 2, 1875, the Prince of Wales arrived in Kandy in the late afternoon and made his way from the railway station to the Pavilion, which was the residence of Governor William Gregory. In the evening Gregory entertained the Prince and elites of Ceylon at a state banquet.
Lamps and lanterns were waving and swinging in the perfumed breezes, while sounds of music, drums, horns and gongs, reverberated throughout the PavilionWilliam Russell (Private secretary to the Prince of Wales & Colonialist writer)
During the visit of Prince of Wales in 1875
After dinner, the Prince and the royal party made their way outside the Pavilion to attend a private Perahera. By all accounts it was a small procession, and as the Perahera made its way from the Dalada Maligawa to the Governor’s residence.
In 1901, when Sir John Anderson was Ceylon’s Governor, Royal Highness the Duke and Duchess of York, King George V and Queen Mary visited Ceylon and they were also invited to the Pavilion.
Kandy reception that evening was even more picturesque and troops lined the route to the King’s Pavilion where a State Banquet followedSir Solomon Dias Bandaranaike
During the visit of Duke and Duchess of York
In 1944, during the Second World War, the South East Asia Command of the Allies was moved to Kandy, where it remained till the end of the war. Admiral Louis Mountbatten, Supreme Allied Commander of the South East Asia Command, took up residence at the Governor’s Pavilion till the end of the war.
Following independence in 1948 the house became the official residence of the Governor General of Ceylon in Kandy. It was formally renamed as the President’s Pavilion in 1972, after Sri Lanka became a republic. William Gopallawa was the last Governor General and first President of Sri Lanka to reside at the house.
The Governor’s Pavilion is now an official residence of the President of Sri Lanka. Although an official residence, it is rarely used for official functions, most notably during the Esala Perahera when at its conclusion the perahera sandeshaya is presented.
Credit – Wikipedia, Bashir Khan, Daily News, Sunday Times Plus