Suriyakantha Centre
for Art & Culture

AN ARISTOCRATIC FAMILY

The history of Naranwala Walawwa goes back to the 18th century when the King Sri Vimaladharmasuriya II (1687-1707) granted to a certain Jayasundara Mudaliya a land in the Udunuwara district. The award recognised the faithful services he rendred to the Kingdom. The status of “Mudaliya” was created by the Portuguese in the 17th century. The post is a direct link between the colonizer and the indigenous. Set up in the shadow of the Royal Court of Kandy, this walawwa or ‘the aristocratic mansion’ knew its days of glory between the 18th c. and the beginning of the 19th c.

A PRESTIGIOUS RESIDENCE

The architecture of the house is a characteristic example of what is commonly known as the “Dutch Style”- a style deriving from the construction influences brought to the island by the Dutch (1658-1798). It was however reserved
for the residences housing indiginous aristocratic lineages.
The Dutch period comes to an end in 1796. 1815, The ever growing Britsh occupation precipitates the fall of the kingdom of Kandy in 1815.

RENAISSANCE

Since the first half of the 19th c., the residence passed from hand to hand. Its imposing dimensions and the extent of renovations needed as a consequence of its historical aspect led, however, to a progressive decline.

At the time of the present acquisition, early in the 1990s, the walawwa was in a bad shape.

It was the beginning of a decisive revival.

ARCHITECTURE

Immersed in a luxuriant vegetation, the residence is characterized by the simplicity of its architectural style. A main rectangular structure is bordered from front and back by a series of massive pillars forming large verandas in either sides. The main structure is topped by an imposing double-slope roof.
The rectangle courtyard (“meda midula”) is covered from three sides by the norther, souther and western wings of the house. It opens itself towards the Hantana mountains from the eastern end, revealing a breathtaking perspective.

LOCATION

The walawwa, nestled at the heart of the Central Region at 600m of altitude, benefits, throughout the year, from a temperate climate.
Furthermore, it is located in the vicinity of three remarkable masterpieces of the Kingdom of Gampola (1341-1415), the temples of Gadaladeniya, Embekke and Lankathilaka.

CENTRE AND GALLERY

The determination of two persons — Jacques Soulié and Rohan de Silva — reinforced by the contribution received from experts and local craftsmen made possible a total and respectful rehabilitation of this traditional house.
The opening of the Centre – a logical outcome, considering the setting and the available collections — occurred in 2010.
This “home-museum” – in the Central Province - now includes an Art Gallery designed for temporary exhibitions of art and photography.

VISUAL ARTS

The collection, whose inception goes back to Paris during the second part of the last century, includes on one hand historical photographs which have marked the beginning of this novel form of art at the end of the 19th c. and on the other hand postcards and engravings, collected from auctions and flee markets throughout Europe. These items reflect an immersion of western and eastern cultures with a particular focus on the history of Sri Lanka.

FOLK ART

A patient and methodical collect of items pertaining to folk art and traditions, initiated from more than 25 years throughout the island, allowed the centre to present today a coherent collection of folk art. These collectibles are a testimony of the creativity and imagination of the ancients who thrived to add beauty to utility. These hand-made objects which reflect the popular customs and beliefs of their authors are discontinued today.

BOOKS AND DOCUMENTATION

A collect of documents and books expanding over the last 50 years is now open on reservation to students and researchers. Rare original editions and specialized publications on Eastern and Western cultures represent a precious collection.
A handful of original Ola leaf manuscripts is one of the higlights of the library.

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Naranwala Walawwa

A several hundred years History on march 
  • 1687-1707

    1. Kandyan era

    The kingship of Sri Vimaladharmasuriya II

  • Beginning of the 18th C.

    2. The land

    The king Winmala Dharma granted the land of the present mansion to Jayasundara Mudaliya, in recognition of his faithful services

  • Second half of the 18th C.

    3. Construction

    Gradual construction of the present residence by the descendants of Jayasundara Mudaliya

  • 1815

    4. Fall of the Kandyan Kingdom

    In 1815, the whole island is placed under the domination of the British. It is the end of the Kingdom and the social position of the aristocrats.

  • 19th & 20th C.

    5. Gradual decline

    The residence passes from hand to hand and
    falls into decrepitude

  • 1992

    6. Present acquisition and rehabilitation

    A meticulous rehabilitation allows the mansion to recover its former splendor

  • 2010

    7. Suriyakantha Centre for Art & Culture

    Creation of the SCAC to open the property and its collections to the public

  • 2016

    8. Suriyakantha Gallery

    Opening of a new Gallery devoted to contemporary forms of art

Suriyakantha Galerie during the exhibition "Territoires" by Janaka Samarakoon held between 07/01/2017 and 19/03/2017

Activities of the Centre

The Centre is open to the public on reservation.
The reservations need to be made at least 24 hours before the scheduled visit.
Different types of packages are available to organise your outing.
They vary from visits alone to visits combined with catering and cultural programs. 

Under the guidance of your guest, Dr. Jacques Soulié, psychiatrist and former Director of Alliance française of Kandy, the visit of the Centre gives access to the collection of folk art, the library and the Art Gallery. The visit is commented in English or French.

The visit of the Centre can be combined with an itinerary going through a series of Kandy's unforgettable historical landmarks. It includes both mainstream monuments featured in the list of  UNESCO's World Heritage as well as less known rare gems hand-picked by Mr. Soulié, who notably wrote a best-selling tourist guide on Sri Lanka (Editions Mondeos).
A car with a driver is at the disposal for this day-long activity. Lunch at the Centre.

The unexpected aspect of the Centre since its opening is the development of the restaurant "Meda Midula Café". From a simple café of early days, the restaurant soon emerged as a visitors' favourite. Today, it has a capacity of 20 guests. The young chef Prasanna Upajeewa and his assistant Desiratne come up with a traditional seasoned with a lot of creativity.

In response to an increasing demand, the “Meda Midula Café” now invite its visitors for cooking demonstrations building up to lunch or dinner. This indeed is a privileged access to visit the backyard of Sri Lankan culinary art.

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Price List

Visits & activities of SCAC

1. Architecture & Collection

5 > 800LKR*
    Centre
  • Collection
  • Refreshments

2. Visit & Breakfast

81 300 LKR*
  • Centre
  • Collection
  • Breakfast
  • Centre
  • Collection
  • Lunch (1130 - 1430)
  • Centre
  • Collection
  • Private Diner (19:00 - 22:30)

5. Cooking Demonstration

7> 1 000 LKR*
  • Additional. To combine with Lunch or Dinner 
  • E.g. : Visit + Demonstration + Lunch
  • Max. number of participants: 6

6. Centre & Historical Sites

30> 5 000 LKR*
  • Visit + Lunch + Refreshments
  • Car and driver provided
  • Min. number of participants: 2

contact FORM

Reservations

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adDress

Naranwala
Handessa 20480
SRI LANKA

Telephone

+94 812-315-544

*Prices valid from 01.01.2017 onward. Price per head. Half price for children under 12 yo. Free for children under 6 yo.