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A mansion hideaway


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 portico.
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.

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