The imposing Richmond Castle located in the town of Kalutara is a splendid mansion which is considered to be one of the finest such edifices in the nation of Sri Lanka. Constructed in 1896 this magnificent creation is reputed to be one of the most handsome architectural designs of the period. It was originally the residence of a local governor and landowner, Mudaliyar N. D. A. Silva Wijesinghe who was the possessor of vast wealth. It also functioned as a circuit bungalow for senior officers of the colonial British administration. Today the mansion is a popular visitor attraction as well as an educational institution for underprivileged children of the locality.
Richmond Castle is a grand two storey edifice with no less than 34 windows and 99 doors, adorned with exquisitely crafted glass panes with a design motif of spreading grape vines. According to records two entire shiploads of teak wood were brought over from Burma for the construction of the building.
The entire mansion is characterized by ornate carvings and features Scottish and Italian mirrors and glass windows. It includes everything required for a luxurious lifestyle at the time, including a lavish dancing floor, rooms for guards and workers and a stable.
Many observers have remarked that the building resembles a British mansion more than a stately Sri Lankan home. Even today the timber seems to be perfectly preserved, apparently as fresh as when it was brought to the nation.
The gardens are another thing of beauty at the site, having once boasted a thriving profusion of blooms. Today the gardens are still beautiful, but now feature a host of productive trees such as mangosteen, coconut, rambutan, mango, guava and a number of citrus varieties. The Mudaliyar was a nature lover and painstakingly cultivated his garden, decorating it with numerous marble statues. Of these a number of marble figures still stand.
With so much to see and admire the visitor is sure to be enthralled by this resplendent edifice, which depicts the splendid lifestyle of Sri Lankan mudaliyars in times past.
Thanuja Silva is a travel writer who writes under the pen name Auburn Silver. She has a passion for fashion and a deep interest in admiring new and exotic attractions around the world.