Home      Discussion      Topics      Dictionary      Almanac
Signup       Login
Nayaks of Kandy

Nayaks of Kandy

Discussion
Ask a question about 'Nayaks of Kandy'
Start a new discussion about 'Nayaks of Kandy'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia
The Nayaks of Kandy
Kingdom of Kandy
Kingdom of Kandy was an important independent monarchy of Sri Lanka, located in the central and eastern portion of the island. It was founded in late 15th century and endured until the early 19th century...

 (a.k.a. Kandy Nayak Dynasty) were the rulers of Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka, officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka is a country off the southern coast of the Indian subcontinent. Known until 1972 as Ceylon , Sri Lanka is an island surrounded by the Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait, and lies in the vicinity of India and the...

 with Kandy
Kandy
Kandy is a city in the center of Sri Lanka. It was the last capital of the ancient kings' era of Sri Lanka. The city lies in the midst of hills in the Kandy plateau, which crosses an area of tropical plantations, mainly tea. Kandy is one of the most scenic cities in Sri Lanka; it is both an...

 as their capital from 1739 to 1815. They were also the last dynasty
Dynasty
A dynasty is a sequence of rulers considered members of the same family. Historians traditionally consider many sovereign states' history within a framework of successive dynasties, e.g., China, Ancient Egypt and the Persian Empire...

 to rule Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka, officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka is a country off the southern coast of the Indian subcontinent. Known until 1972 as Ceylon , Sri Lanka is an island surrounded by the Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait, and lies in the vicinity of India and the...

. They were related to the Madurai Nayak dynasty and to the Tanjore Nayak dynasty . There were four kings of this lineage and the last king, Vikrama Rajasinha, was captured by the British and exiled to Vellore Fort
Vellore Fort
Vellore Fort is a large 16th-century fort situated in Vellore city near Chennai, in the state of Tamil Nadu, India. The Fort was at one point of time the headquarters of the Vijayanagara Empire...

 in India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

 

Much earlier to the establishment of the Kandy Nayak dynasty, it was not unknown for the Sinhalese to take wives from ruling clans across Southern India . The first to do so was King Vijaya who procured his royal consort from the city of Madurai
Madurai
Madurai is the third largest city in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu and one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. It served as the capital city of the Pandyan Kingdom. It is the administrative headquarters of Madurai District and is famous for its temples built by Pandyan and...

 . Later kings followed suit.

Because the Kandy kings received military support from the Nayaks of Madurai
Madurai Nayak Dynasty
The Madurai Nayaks or Nayak Dynasty of Madurai were rulers of a region comprising most of modern-day Tamil Nadu, India, with Madurai as their capital...

 and the Tanjore Nayak dynasty  to fight off the Portuguese, alliances between Kandy, Madurai and Tanjore were already established. In the 17th and 18th centuries, marital alliances between Kandyan kings and Nayak princesses were a matter of policy . When a Sinhalese Kandyan king, Narendra Sinha, died without an offspring, the brother of his Madurai Nayak queen succeeded the throne in 1739 under the coronated name of Sri Vijaya Raja Sinha . Thus in 1739 the Nayaks came to rule the Kandy kingdom .

These Nayak kings continued to marry with their Tanjore and Madurai counterparts. The Kandy Nayaks also shared a number of matrimonial ties with the Jaffna Kingdom
Jaffna Kingdom
The Jaffna kingdom , also known as Kingdom of Aryacakravarti, of modern northern Sri Lanka was a historic monarchy that came into existence around the town of Jaffna on the Jaffna peninsula after the invasion of Magha, who is said to have been from Kalinga, in India...

 . The Nayak kings were Hindus. They later converted to Buddhism
Buddhism
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

 and were responsible for renaissance of Buddhist culture in the Island.

Origins


The Nayaks of South India
South India
South India is the area encompassing India's states of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu as well as the union territories of Lakshadweep and Pondicherry, occupying 19.31% of India's area...

 started off as governors of Vijayanagara Empire
Vijayanagara Empire
The Vijayanagara Empire , referred as the Kingdom of Bisnaga by the Portuguese, was an empire based in South Indian in the Deccan Plateau region. It was established in 1336 by Harihara I and his brother Bukka Raya I of the Yadava lineage. The empire rose to prominence as a culmination of attempts...

 ruling parts of Tamil Nadu
Tamil Nadu
Tamil Nadu is one of the 28 states of India. Its capital and largest city is Chennai. Tamil Nadu lies in the southernmost part of the Indian Peninsula and is bordered by the union territory of Pondicherry, and the states of Kerala, Karnataka, and Andhra Pradesh...

 during the 14th and 15th centuries. After the Vijayanagara Empire
Vijayanagara Empire
The Vijayanagara Empire , referred as the Kingdom of Bisnaga by the Portuguese, was an empire based in South Indian in the Deccan Plateau region. It was established in 1336 by Harihara I and his brother Bukka Raya I of the Yadava lineage. The empire rose to prominence as a culmination of attempts...

 collapsed in the mid 16th century some of these governors declared independence and established their own kingdoms in Gingee
Nayaks of Gingee
The Nayaks of Gingee were the rulers of Gingee principality of Tamil Nadu between the 16th to the 18th century CE. They were subordinates of the imperial Vijayanagara emperors, and were appointed as provincial governors by the Vijayanagar Emperor who divided the Tamil country into three Nayakships...

, Tanjore, Madurai and Chandragiri
Chandragiri
Chandragiri , is a suburb of Tirupati in Andhra Pradesh, India. Recently it is included under Municipal Corporation limits of Tirupati...

. They were Telugu
Telugu language
Telugu is a Central Dravidian language primarily spoken in the state of Andhra Pradesh, India, where it is an official language. It is also spoken in the neighbouring states of Chattisgarh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Orissa and Tamil Nadu...

 speaking ammas]s. According to a Telugu work called Sinhaladvipa
Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka, officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka is a country off the southern coast of the Indian subcontinent. Known until 1972 as Ceylon , Sri Lanka is an island surrounded by the Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait, and lies in the vicinity of India and the...

 Katha, the Nayak king Kumara Krishnappa, who reigned at Madura (1562-1572), is said to have conquered Kandy. Kumara Krishnappa killed the then reigning Kandy king, sent the late king's wife and children to Anuradhapura and placed his own brother-in-law Vijaya Gopala Naidu as his viceroy in Kandy .

There was a continuous interaction between the Madurai, Tanjore and Ceylonese kingdoms. As with Kandy, military assistance and interaction also existed with the Jaffna Kingdom
Jaffna Kingdom
The Jaffna kingdom , also known as Kingdom of Aryacakravarti, of modern northern Sri Lanka was a historic monarchy that came into existence around the town of Jaffna on the Jaffna peninsula after the invasion of Magha, who is said to have been from Kalinga, in India...

. When the Jaffna ruler Sankili II
Cankili II
Cankili II was the self-proclaimed last king of the Jaffna kingdom and was a usurper who came to throne with a palace massacre of the royal princess and the regent Arasakesari in 1617. His regency was rejected by the Portuguese colonials in Colombo, Sri Lanka...

 wanted to suppress a revolt by the growing Christian minority in Jaffna led by two Christian Mudaliyars, Dom Pedro and Dom Luis in 1618, he requested the support of the Tanjore king, Raghunatha Nayaka. Raghunatha Nayaka thence sent 5000 troops under the leadership of Varuna Kullatan . However, later attempts by Raghunatha Nayak to recover the Jaffna kingdom
Jaffna Kingdom
The Jaffna kingdom , also known as Kingdom of Aryacakravarti, of modern northern Sri Lanka was a historic monarchy that came into existence around the town of Jaffna on the Jaffna peninsula after the invasion of Magha, who is said to have been from Kalinga, in India...

 from the Portuguese for his proteage, the prince of Rameshwaram, met with failure . Raghunatha Nayak had made a number of attempts to recover the Jaffna Kingdom for the Prince of Rameshwaram with the help of Moors, Badagas and Maravas and the renegade King of Kandy, Dom Joas Wimaladharma . The former princesses of Jaffna had been married to the Kandy King Senarat
Senarat of Sri Lanka
Senarat Adahasin was a king of Sri Lanka who ruled the Kingdom of Kandy from 1604 to 1635.He was the brother of king Vimaladharmasuriya I of Sri lanka...

's stepsons, Kumarasingha and Vijayapala . However, all their attempts to recover the Jaffna Kingdom from the Portuguese met with failure.

Earlier, during the reign of Achyutappa Nayaka of Tanjore, a Prince of Jaffna, Cankili II
Cankili II
Cankili II was the self-proclaimed last king of the Jaffna kingdom and was a usurper who came to throne with a palace massacre of the royal princess and the regent Arasakesari in 1617. His regency was rejected by the Portuguese colonials in Colombo, Sri Lanka...

 (Sankili Kumara) had murdered the regent Arasakesari and had been dispossessed of his kingdom by the Portuguese. The Jaffna King then went to the Tanjore court with his family and attendants and begged the assistance of the Tanjore King in regaining his kingdom. With troops under Kheen Naick of Tanjore, Sankili II went back to Jaffna and defeated the Portuguese. Soon later however the Portuguese dethroned him and repossessed Jaffna . Thus it is seen that the Nayaks were linked with Ceylonese history, and with the Kandy and Jaffna kingdoms, prior to the formation of the Kandy Nayak line.

The last king of the Kandy Mahanuwara dynasty, Narendra Sinha, died in 1739 without an offspring from his queen. His queen was a Madurai Nayak princess. Narendra Sinha's had nominated a brother of his Madura queen to succeed him ; and he was coronated under the assumed title of Sri Vijaya Raja Sinha . Thus, Sri Vijaya Rajasinha succeeded the throne and established the Kandy Nayak line.

The preceding Dynasty



The last king of the Kandy Mahanuwara dynasty was Vira Narendra Sinha
Vira Narendra Sinha of Sri Lanka
Vira Parakrama Narendra Sinha was the last Sinhalese King of Sri Lanka of the Kingdom of Kandy. The son of Vimaladharmasurya II, he came to the throne when he was seventeen years old and reigned for 32 years....

 who ruled from 1707 to 1739. This King ascended the throne in 1707 when he was seventeen and was considered to be a very pious and scholarly. In 1708 the king married a bride from Madurai
Madurai
Madurai is the third largest city in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu and one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. It served as the capital city of the Pandyan Kingdom. It is the administrative headquarters of Madurai District and is famous for its temples built by Pandyan and...

 Royal family, the daughter of Pitti Nayakkar. Again, in 1710, he married another bride from Madurai. He had no children by either of the queens. He also had a secondary Kandyan wife from noble family of Matale
Matale
Matale is a town in the hill country of Sri Lanka, from Colombo and from Kandy. It is an area steeped in history and village living. The mayor of Matale is Hilmy Careem, as of May, 2006....

. She bore him a son. However, the children of the secondary wife were not considered heirs to the throne . The king also had a concubine from a high caste
Caste
Caste is an elaborate and complex social system that combines elements of endogamy, occupation, culture, social class, tribal affiliation and political power. It should not be confused with race or social class, e.g. members of different castes in one society may belong to the same race, as in India...

, who bore him a son named Unambuwe, and did survive. The bar to his succession was the lack of royal status in the mother.

Thus, the king nominated, as his successor, the brother of his first queen who had remained at the court ever since his sister married him. According to the law of succession that prevailed in Ceylon, the throne passed almost always from father to son, born of a mahesi or from brother to brother. However, when Narendra Sinha's brother-in-law succeeded the throne, the Sinhalese Kandyan aristocracy had no problem with this new form of succession . The practice of marrying princesses from Madurai is said to have come into occurrence as the Kandy kings insisted on consorts from the Suryavamsa lineage to grace their coronation and to produce heirs acceptable to the people .

Sri Vijaya Rajasinha 1739-1747



The Brother-in-law
Brother-in-law
A brother-in-law is the brother of one's spouse, the husband of one's sibling, or the husband of one's spouse's sibling.-See also:*Affinity *Sister-in-law*Brothers in Law , a 1955 British comedy novel...

 of King Vira Narendra Sinha
Vira Narendra Sinha of Sri Lanka
Vira Parakrama Narendra Sinha was the last Sinhalese King of Sri Lanka of the Kingdom of Kandy. The son of Vimaladharmasurya II, he came to the throne when he was seventeen years old and reigned for 32 years....

, Narendra Singha's first wife's brother, from the Madurai Nayak house, ascended the throne of Kandy
Kandy
Kandy is a city in the center of Sri Lanka. It was the last capital of the ancient kings' era of Sri Lanka. The city lies in the midst of hills in the Kandy plateau, which crosses an area of tropical plantations, mainly tea. Kandy is one of the most scenic cities in Sri Lanka; it is both an...

, as Sri Vijaya Rajasinha.

The new king, considered to be a man of considerable culture, devoted his entire attention to the furtherance of the national religion Buddhism
Buddhism
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

 despite being a Hindu
Hindu
Hindu refers to an identity associated with the philosophical, religious and cultural systems that are indigenous to the Indian subcontinent. As used in the Constitution of India, the word "Hindu" is also attributed to all persons professing any Indian religion...

. He is said to have caused life sized images of Buddha
Gautama Buddha
Siddhārtha Gautama was a spiritual teacher from the Indian subcontinent, on whose teachings Buddhism was founded. In most Buddhist traditions, he is regarded as the Supreme Buddha Siddhārtha Gautama (Sanskrit: सिद्धार्थ गौतम; Pali: Siddhattha Gotama) was a spiritual teacher from the Indian...

 in recumbent, standing and sitting postures to be cut in the rock caves in various parts of the country. His reign also marked several conflicts with the Dutch
Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

 who were ruling the coastal provinces, based on trading issues. Sri Vijaya Rajasinha destroyed the churches and initiated a persecution against the Portuguese
Portugal
Portugal , officially the Portuguese Republic is a country situated in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal is the westernmost country of Europe, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the West and South and by Spain to the North and East. The Atlantic archipelagos of the...

 and Dutch, which was continued under Kirti Sri Rajasinha. It ceased only because the king considered that certain calamities which fell upon the country were due to his action.

He married a bride from the Royal family of Madurai. But by 1736 the 200 year old Nayaka dynasty of Madurai came to an end with Muslims taking control of the whole country.

Marriage alliance with Madurai Royal Family


When the king ascended the throne he sought a wife from South India
South India
South India is the area encompassing India's states of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu as well as the union territories of Lakshadweep and Pondicherry, occupying 19.31% of India's area...

. For this purpose he sent messengers to Madurai
Madurai
Madurai is the third largest city in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu and one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. It served as the capital city of the Pandyan Kingdom. It is the administrative headquarters of Madurai District and is famous for its temples built by Pandyan and...

 in 1739. Since the Madurai Nayaks had now lost the power and prestige they enjoyed in the days of Vijayaranga Chokkanatha, the family members thought it advisable and even desirable to accept the offer from the king of Kandy. Hence the family of Bangaru Thirumala
Bangaru Thirumalai Nayak
Bangaru Thirumalai Nayak, also known as Bangaru Tirumalai and Vangaru Thirumala , was a member of Madurai Nayak royal family and Governor/Commander of the Madurai Nayak King Vijaya Ranga Chokkanatha...

, who was now residing in Vellaikuruchi Fort near Thirupachetiram in Sivaganga Zamin responded. Two brothers Rama Krishnappa Nayaka and Narenappa Nayaka, kinsmen of Bangaru Tirumala Nayaka meet the Kandyan envoys at Ramnad. Narenappa Nayaka had a daughter of marriageable age and agreed to the Kandyan request. The brothers with their families and some kins accompanied the envoys to Ceylon for the daughter's nuptial; settled in Kandy with their kith and kin. Narenappa Nayaka was destined to be not only the father-in-law of one king, but the father of the next two kings of Kandy; for his two sons, the one five or six years old in 1740, and the other still an infant were successively to succeed Sri Vijaya Rajasinha.

Sri Vijaya Rajasinha married another Madurai
Madurai
Madurai is the third largest city in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu and one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. It served as the capital city of the Pandyan Kingdom. It is the administrative headquarters of Madurai District and is famous for its temples built by Pandyan and...

 princess in 1747. Each bride brought a contingent of relatives with royal lineage ultimately making Kandy
Kandy
Kandy is a city in the center of Sri Lanka. It was the last capital of the ancient kings' era of Sri Lanka. The city lies in the midst of hills in the Kandy plateau, which crosses an area of tropical plantations, mainly tea. Kandy is one of the most scenic cities in Sri Lanka; it is both an...

 their permanent home.

The king, however, died childless soon after, having nominated as his successor
Successor
A successor can refer to* Someone who, or something which succeeds or comes after * Successor , an American Thoroughbred racehorseIn history:* The Diadochi, or Successors to Alexander the GreatIn mathematics:...

, his eldest brother in-law who had been living in the court ever since his sister had married the king. Thus by this peculiar mode of succession the son of Narenappa Nayaka who claimed kingship with the ruling Madurai Nayak family now ascended the throne of Kandy
Kandy
Kandy is a city in the center of Sri Lanka. It was the last capital of the ancient kings' era of Sri Lanka. The city lies in the midst of hills in the Kandy plateau, which crosses an area of tropical plantations, mainly tea. Kandy is one of the most scenic cities in Sri Lanka; it is both an...

 as Kirti Sri Rajasinha.

Kirti Sri Rajasinha 1747-1782


Kirti Sri Rajasinha was a prince from the Nayaks of Madurai
Madurai
Madurai is the third largest city in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu and one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. It served as the capital city of the Pandyan Kingdom. It is the administrative headquarters of Madurai District and is famous for its temples built by Pandyan and...

 royal family and brother-in-law to Sri Vijaya Raja Singha. He succeeded his brother-in-law to the throne in 1751.

He devoted the first few years of his reign to the advancement of literature and religion. The king, later with the Dutch
Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

 assistance got down to learning Bhikkus from Siam (Thailand
Thailand
Thailand , officially the Kingdom of Thailand , formerly known as Siam , is a country located at the centre of the Indochina peninsula and Southeast Asia. It is bordered to the north by Burma and Laos, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the...

) for the purpose of advancing Buddhism
Buddhism
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

 in Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka, officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka is a country off the southern coast of the Indian subcontinent. Known until 1972 as Ceylon , Sri Lanka is an island surrounded by the Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait, and lies in the vicinity of India and the...

, also building the Raja Maha Vihara (Gangarama) was built at Kandy
Kandy
Kandy is a city in the center of Sri Lanka. It was the last capital of the ancient kings' era of Sri Lanka. The city lies in the midst of hills in the Kandy plateau, which crosses an area of tropical plantations, mainly tea. Kandy is one of the most scenic cities in Sri Lanka; it is both an...

. Kirti built the existing inner temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, and caused the Mahavansa chronicle to be continued from the time of Parâkkamabâhu IV down to his own reign.

Attack on Dutch Forts


In 1761 King Kirti Sri Rajasinha attacked the Dutch
Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

 garrisons and forts at Matara
Matara, Sri Lanka
Matara is a city on the southern coast of Sri Lanka, 160 km from Colombo. It is one of the largest cities in Sri Lanka. It was deeply affected by the Asian tsunami in December 2004.-History:...

, Katuwana, Tangalle
Tangalle
Tangalle is a town on the southern coast of Sri Lanka located in the Hambantota District. It has a mild climate, in comparison to the rest of the district, and sandy beaches....

, Marakade and Urubokke, completely destroying them, and killing Dutch while some surrendered and ended as prisoners.

In order to revenge the humiliation, the new Dutch governor Van Eck had immediate plans to attack Kandy, but the weakness in fortification and garrison forbade the Dutch. Later they did attach in 1764 and in 1765. Hence, in the early part of 1763 the Dutch were only consolidating their positions and gradually expelling Kandyans from the territories taken over from Dutch. Throughout 1763 the King continually sought peace and sent his envoys to discuss terms. The Governor wished the King to cede the three four and seven Korales and Puttlam and hand over the entire coastline of island to the Dutch. The king was not agreeable to any demand that diminished his sovereignty and was deliberately delaying a settlement hoping for help from the English
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 in Madras after his discussion and negotiations with John Pybus 1762.

Meeting with the British


The King in mid 1762 sought help from George Pigot, Governor of Fort St George
Fort St George
Fort St George is the name of the first English fortress in India, founded in 1639 at the coastal city of Madras, the modern city of Chennai. The construction of the Fort provided the impetus for further settlements and trading activity, in what was originally a no man's land...

 Madras for assistance. The British eager to obtain the monopoly of trading in cinnamon, pepper, betel nut (puwak) from the Kandyan Kings also wanted to expel the Dutch from the coasts. A reason to call on the British for assistance by the Kandyan King in 1762 was that after the treaty of Paris
Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

, the Dutch poured troops into Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka, officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka is a country off the southern coast of the Indian subcontinent. Known until 1972 as Ceylon , Sri Lanka is an island surrounded by the Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait, and lies in the vicinity of India and the...

. They were bent on capturing Kandy
Kandy
Kandy is a city in the center of Sri Lanka. It was the last capital of the ancient kings' era of Sri Lanka. The city lies in the midst of hills in the Kandy plateau, which crosses an area of tropical plantations, mainly tea. Kandy is one of the most scenic cities in Sri Lanka; it is both an...

 from six directions (1764). Anticipating such a scenario the King sent an envoy to the English Governor
Governor
A governor is a governing official, usually the executive of a non-sovereign level of government, ranking under the head of state...

 of Madras to assist him in expelling the Dutch. This envoy, a junior Kandyan Official in the military made a clandestine trip to Madras Fort, and the English responded by sending their councilor Mr Pybus.

John Pybus, a writer of the British East India Company
British East India Company
The East India Company was an early English joint-stock company that was formed initially for pursuing trade with the East Indies, but that ended up trading mainly with the Indian subcontinent and China...

, sailed to Kandy with a backup of five ships and about 200 armed men. A British vessel brought Pybus to Trincomalee
Trincomalee
Trincomalee is a port city in Eastern Province, Sri Lanka and lies on the east coast of the island, about 113 miles south of Jaffna. It has a population of approximately 100,000 . The city is built on a peninsula, which divides the inner and outer harbours. Overlooking the Kottiyar Bay,...

 on 5 May 1762. The Dutch
Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

 knew of the arrival of Pybus through their spies and they were kept informed of his movements. Pybus took an exhausting covert trip to meet the King on 24 May 1762. After several talks without any conclusive decisions Pybus left after a month. The King gave him a ring, sword
Sword
A sword is a bladed weapon used primarily for cutting or thrusting. The precise definition of the term varies with the historical epoch or the geographical region under consideration...

, a gold
Gold
Gold is a chemical element with the symbol Au and an atomic number of 79. Gold is a dense, soft, shiny, malleable and ductile metal. Pure gold has a bright yellow color and luster traditionally considered attractive, which it maintains without oxidizing in air or water. Chemically, gold is a...

 chain with breast jewels and left the country crossing the river at Puttalam pass while the Dissawa who accompanied Pybus presented the ships commander Samuel Cornish a gold
Gold
Gold is a chemical element with the symbol Au and an atomic number of 79. Gold is a dense, soft, shiny, malleable and ductile metal. Pure gold has a bright yellow color and luster traditionally considered attractive, which it maintains without oxidizing in air or water. Chemically, gold is a...

 chain and a ring in the name of King "Kirti Sri Rajasinha".

John Pybus in his notes described the King as a man of tolerable stature, reddish in complexion and very brisk in his movements. Pybus was amazed as to how the kandyans had managed to fight a war with Dutch and had captured Matara Dutch Fort. He wrote that "They had put every European to the sword except two officers who are now prisoners of the country."

Marriage


The Kandy King, Kirti Sri Rajasinha (Kirti Sri Maha Raja), married two daughters of Vijaya Manan Naicker, the grandson of Vijaya Raghava Nayaka of Tanjore and also brought some dispossessed Nayaks of Tanjore to live in Kandy . He also married the daughter of one Nadukattu Sami Nayakkar in 1749. He further married three more Nayakkar queens from Madurai
Madurai
Madurai is the third largest city in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu and one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. It served as the capital city of the Pandyan Kingdom. It is the administrative headquarters of Madurai District and is famous for its temples built by Pandyan and...

, but had no children from them. He had six daughters and two sons by his favorite Sinhala lady (Yakada Doli), daughter of the late Dissave (Headman) of Bintenna and granddaughter of the blind and aged Mampitiya
Mampitiya
Mampitiya is a village in Sri Lanka. It is located within Central Province.-External links:*...

 Dissave. Both his sons survived the king and his daughters' married Nayakkar relatives of the king. Mampitiya's sons claim for the throne was overlooked and the choice fell on the king's brother who was living in court.

The king died on January 2, 1782, of the injuries caused two months before by a fall from his horse
Horse
The horse is one of two extant subspecies of Equus ferus, or the wild horse. It is a single-hooved mammal belonging to the taxonomic family Equidae. The horse has evolved over the past 45 to 55 million years from a small multi-toed creature into the large, single-toed animal of today...

 after a reign of 35 years which the people saw as a great religious revival, and had a sentimental attachment to the King.

Sri Rajadhi Raja Singha 1782-1798



Brother of Kirti Sri Rajasinha, the new king who ascended the throne as Sri Rajadhi Rajasinha. He came from Madurai as a child along with his brother. Hence he was raised as a Kandy
Kandy
Kandy is a city in the center of Sri Lanka. It was the last capital of the ancient kings' era of Sri Lanka. The city lies in the midst of hills in the Kandy plateau, which crosses an area of tropical plantations, mainly tea. Kandy is one of the most scenic cities in Sri Lanka; it is both an...

an and a Sinhala; emerging as a brilliant pupil of the Malwatte Temple's chief Prelate at that time. He was quite a sophisticated person and learned many languages amongst which were Pali
Pali language
Pāli is a Middle Indo-Aryan language of the Indian subcontinent. It is best known as the language of many of the earliest extant Buddhist scriptures, as collected in the Pāi Canon or Tipitaka, and as the liturgical language of Theravada Buddhism.-Etymology of the name:The word Pali itself...

 and Sanskrit. A lavish patron of Buddhism
Buddhism
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

, he was a great aficionado of poetry and he himself was a poet.

He died childless in 1798 without nominating a successor. The burden fell on Pilimatalava, the first Adigar (Prime Minister) Pilimatalawe, an able, ambitious and intriguing chief, to select a successor to the vacant throne. The controversial Adigar was also seen as one of the main reason for the demise of the dynasty.

Sri Vikrama Rajasinha 1798-1815




The next king who ascended the throne was Prince Kannasamy, the former kings' nephew, barely 18 years old. He was coronated under the title of Sri Vikrama Rajasinha. He would also be the last king of the Kandy Nayakar dynasty and the last of Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka, officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka is a country off the southern coast of the Indian subcontinent. Known until 1972 as Ceylon , Sri Lanka is an island surrounded by the Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait, and lies in the vicinity of India and the...

. During his time the British colony was fully established on other parts of Sri Lanka.

There was a rival claimant to succeed King Sri Rajadhi Rajasinha, the brother of Queen Upendramma, who had a stronger claim. However, Pilimatalawe, the first Adigar (prime Minister) choose the South Indian Prince to the Kandyan Throne, with reportedly deep seated plans to usurp the throne to set a new dynasty of his own. The young king, upon ascending the throne, faced many conspiracies and reigned through one of the most turbulent periods in Sri Lanka's history.

Internal Conflict


During his time, the British who had succeeded the Dutch in the Maritime Provinces had not interfered in the politics of the Kandy. But Pilimatalava, the first Adigar of the king, started covert operations with the British to provoke the King into acts of aggression, which would give the British an excuse to seize the Kingdom. The Adigar manipulated the king into beginning a military conflict with the British, who had gained a strong position in the coastal provinces. War was declared and on March 22, 1803 the British entered Kandy with no resistance, Sri Vikrama Rajasinha having fled. The adigar massacred the British garrison in Kandy in June and restored the king to the throne. Pilimitalava plotted to overthrow the king and seize the crown for himself, but his plot was discovered, and, having been pardoned on two previous occasions, he was executed.

The disgraced adigar was replaced by his nephew, Ehelepola, who soon came under suspicion of following his uncle in plotting the overthrow of Sri Vikrama Rajasinha. A rebellion instigated by Ehalepola was suppressed, after which he then fled to Colombo and joined the British. After failing to surrender (after 3 weeks of notice), the exasperated king dismissed Ehelepola, confiscated his lands, and ordered the imprisonment and execution of his wife and children. A propagandised account of the execution was widely circulated by sympathisers.

Ehelepola fled to British-controlled territory, where he persuaded the British that Sri Vikrama Rajasinha's tyranny deserved a military intervention. The pretext was provided by the seizure of a number of British merchants, who were detained on suspicion of spying and were tortured, killing several of them. An invasion was duly mounted and advanced to Kandy without resistance, reaching the city on February 10, 1815. On March 2, the kingdom was ceded to the British under a treaty called the Kandyan Convention
Kandyan Convention
The Kandyan Convention was an agreement in 1815 between the British and the Chiefs of the Kandyan Kingdom, in Sri Lanka for the deposition of rule King Sri Vikrama Rajasinha. The king who was of Telugu ancestry faced powerful opposition from the Sinhalese chieftains who sought to reduce his power...

.

Exile and Death


Sri Wikrama Rajasinha is said to have governed the Kandy Kingdom as per the laws of Manu
Manu
-Geography:*Manú Province, a province of Peru, in the Madre de Dios Region*Manú National Park, Peru*Manú River, in southeastern Peru*Manu River, Tripura, which originates in India and flows into Bangladesh...

smrithi . On March 2, the kingdom was ceded to the British under a treaty called the Kandyan Convention. Sri Vikrama Rajasinha was captured and sent along with his family and attendants as a royal prisoner by the British to Vellore Fort in southern India. A son was born to him while he was in exile but he died without an issue. The king then adopted the son of his daughter as his own son who was titled Alagia Manawala Sinhala Raja . During Sri Vikrama Rajasinha's time as a royal prisoner in Vellore Fort
Vellore Fort
Vellore Fort is a large 16th-century fort situated in Vellore city near Chennai, in the state of Tamil Nadu, India. The Fort was at one point of time the headquarters of the Vijayanagara Empire...

 the erstwhile king received a privy purse, which his descendants continued to receive from the Government of Sri Lanka until it was abolished in 1965. Sri Wikrama Rajasinha died of dropsy on January 30, 1832 aged 52 years.

Public Works


For centuries Kandy
Kandy
Kandy is a city in the center of Sri Lanka. It was the last capital of the ancient kings' era of Sri Lanka. The city lies in the midst of hills in the Kandy plateau, which crosses an area of tropical plantations, mainly tea. Kandy is one of the most scenic cities in Sri Lanka; it is both an...

, originally known as Senkadagala, has been the bastion of Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka, officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka is a country off the southern coast of the Indian subcontinent. Known until 1972 as Ceylon , Sri Lanka is an island surrounded by the Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait, and lies in the vicinity of India and the...

's culture and its spiritual centre. The palace
Palace
A palace is a grand residence, especially a royal residence or the home of a head of state or some other high-ranking dignitary, such as a bishop or archbishop. The word itself is derived from the Latin name Palātium, for Palatine Hill, one of the seven hills in Rome. In many parts of Europe, the...

 complex at Kandy
Kandy
Kandy is a city in the center of Sri Lanka. It was the last capital of the ancient kings' era of Sri Lanka. The city lies in the midst of hills in the Kandy plateau, which crosses an area of tropical plantations, mainly tea. Kandy is one of the most scenic cities in Sri Lanka; it is both an...

 includes Sri Lanka's most venerated shrine
Shrine
A shrine is a holy or sacred place, which is dedicated to a specific deity, ancestor, hero, martyr, saint, daemon or similar figure of awe and respect, at which they are venerated or worshipped. Shrines often contain idols, relics, or other such objects associated with the figure being venerated....

, the Dalada Maligawa or Temple
Temple
A temple is a structure reserved for religious or spiritual activities, such as prayer and sacrifice, or analogous rites. A templum constituted a sacred precinct as defined by a priest, or augur. It has the same root as the word "template," a plan in preparation of the building that was marked out...

 of the Sacred Tooth Relic.

Raja Maha Vihara (Gangarama) was built at Kandy by the second Nayak king Kirti Sri Rajasinha while his successor Sri Rajadhi Rajasinha
Sri Rajadhi Rajasinha of Sri Lanka
Sri Rajadhi Rajasinha was a member of the Madurai royal family and succeeded his brother, Kirti Sri Rajasinha as King of Kandy in 1782.-Sources:*...

 was a lavish patron of Buddhism
Buddhism
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

. The first Nayak king Sri Vijaya Rajasinha
Sri Vijaya Rajasinha of Sri Lanka
Vijaya Rajasinha was a member of the Madurai Nayak Dynasty and succeeded his brother-in-law Vira Narendra Sinha as the King of Kandy.-Sources:*...

 is noted for various erection of Buddhist statues throughout the Kingdom. The Kandy Lake
Kandy Lake
Kandy Lake is a lake in the heart of the hill city of Kandy, Sri Lanka. Built in 1807 by King Sri Vikrama Rajasinha of Sri Lanka next to the Temple of the Tooth. Over the years it was reduced in size. Its is a protected lake, with fishing banned. There are many legends and folklore regarding the lake...

 overlooking Kandy was commissioned by Sri Vikrama Rajasinha.

Sources

  • Robert Binning, A Journal of Two Years' Travel in Persia, Ceylon, etc. Volume 1. (Wm. H. Allen & Co., 1857)
  • Horace Hayman Wilson, The history of British India, from 1805 to 1835. (James Madden, 1858)

External links