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 Walawwa was built in the 1850’s by the late K.
Nugawela. It was situated on the present lawn, on the upper level and
its surrounding of approximately five acres, until the new Walawwa was
built This Walawwa 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.
He decided on building a ‘modern’ type of Walawwa 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 Walawwa 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 Walawwa
to the old Walawwa. Work on the new Walawwa began in early 1922 and was
completed in 1924.
The Walawwa and the new building also joined in harmony via the upper
Punchi Banda Nugawela moved in with his daughters to the new Walawwa and
his three sons used the old Walawwa as ‘Bachelors Quarters’. The old
Walawwa was finally demolished in 1952.
In the early twenties, this new Walawwa 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 Walawwa into a
hotel in 1998, as Hotel Mansion Nugwela. The last refurbishment was in
2003, by the new management team of the hotel, 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.
As for the facilities available at Mansion Nugawela, the dining room of
the hotel projects the colonial grandeur, feeling of a palace, serving
international cuisine or exotic local delights. Palatial type of
function halls for wedding receptions and seminars with a capacity of
150-200 guests each. Apart from that, the hotel is equipped with air
conditioned rooms, telephone, mini bar, TV, attached bathrooms with hot
water and room service and laundry services.