Sri Jayawardenapura Kotte is the administrative capital of Sri Lanka. The name translated into English means "the blessed fortress city of growing victory". It was inaugurated as the new administrative capital in 1982 and is a conurbation of several suburbs. It is not commonly regarded as a tourist area though some tourists visit the area out of curiosity and it is a popular place of residence for expats. There are a few hotels and other places that provide accommodation in Sri Jayawardenapura Kotte and the area is well serviced by restaurants and shops.
Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte , commonly known as Kotte , is the official, administrative capital of Sri Lanka. Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte is a satellite city and within the urban area of Sri Lanka's de-facto economic and legislative capital, Colombo. Sri Jayawardenapura Kotte Municipal Council area is bounded in
- the North by Kolonnawa Urban Council area,
- the North-East by the Kotikawatta–Mulleriyawa Pradeshiya Sabha area,
- the East by the Kaduwela Municipal Council area,
- the South-East by the Maharagama Urban Council area,
- the South-West by the Dehiwala-Mount Lavinia Municipal Council and
- the West by the Colombo Municipal Council area, which is the commercial capital of Sri Lanka.
The only main railway station is at Nugegoda, on the Kelani Valley Line . Also at Nugegoda is the main bus terminus. There is subsidiary bus stands at Pita Kotte. This urban area is well served by buses and there is a CTB bus depot at Udahamulla.
In 2005, a Passenger boat service was being finalised and would commence adjacent to Parliament Junction at Bataramulla and end at the Wellawatte canal near Marine drive. Each journey would take around 30 minutes. It would have stations at the Kotte Marsh, Nawala, Open University, Apollo Hospital, Duplication road, Wellawatte and at St Peter's College, Colombo. The Sri Lanka Navy is currently conducting a pilot project between the Open University and Wellawatte.
The main hospital of area situated at Madivela known as Sri Jayawardenapura Hospital is a gift from the Japanese government. There is a dedicated Eye & ENT hospital at Rajagiriya, and another maternity hospital under construction in Nawala. A small private health centre, the Blue Cross Hospital at Rajagiriya, provides basic facilities for medical diagnostics, and there is a small nursing home in Park Lane, Welikada, much patronised by Maldivians.
There are a number of State and Private Schools in Kotte. They are either "National schools" (run by the central government; Main School President's College, Sri Jayawardenapura Kotte), "Government schools" (run by the Provincial Councils), Semi-government/Private schools, or International schools (run by trusts and individuals; Gateway College Colombo is an example of the latter class of school).
The oldest English School on the island is Sri Jayawardenepura Maha Vidyalaya, formerly known as Christian College, located in Pita Kotte. The Ananda Sastralaya at Pita Kotte is the oldest Buddhist school in the city, and Anula Vidyalaya, Nugegoda is the biggest Buddhist girls school in South Asia, with over 5000 students.
The Education Ministry as well as the Department of Examinations is based in Kotte.
A considerable number of the students living within the zone study at government owned colleges and International schools in Colombo.
Located at Nawala is the Open University, Sri Lanka, and at Nugegoda is the University of Sri Jayewardenepura. Public Libraries are conveniently located, and can be found at Nugegoda and Rajagiriya.
Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte features a tropical rainforest climate (Köppen: Af) more subject to the Intertropical Convergence Zone than the trade winds. Since there are a few cyclones, the climate is not purely equatorial but subequatorial, with little variation in temperatures throughout the course of the year. The city does feature wetter and drier months, with February on average being its driest month, seeing on average 63 mm (2.5 in) of precipitation. However, since none of the average monthly precipitation falls below 60 mm (2.4 in), Sri Jayawardenapura Kotte falls under the tropical rainforest climate category.
The village of Darugama lay at the confluence of two streams, the Diyawanna Oya and the Kolonnawa Oya. As Darugama was a naturally secure place, it was not easy for enemies to enter it. Here, in the 13th century, a chieftain named Nissanka Alagakkonara built a Kotte (meaning fortress)
Alagakkonara is mentioned by Ibn Batuta as ruling in Kurunegala, but other sources indicate that he was the Bandara (Guardian) of Raigama Korale (county) in the modern Kalutara District. Arya Chakravarthy's army was held by Alagakkonara in front of Kotte, while he defeated the enemy's invasion fleet at Panadura to the south-west.
Kotte was a jala durgha (water fortress), in the shape of a triangle, with the Diyawanna Oya and Kolonnawa Oya marshes forming two long sides; along the shorter third (land) side a large moat (the 'inner moat') was dug. The fortress was nearly 2.5 km2 (0.97 sq mi) in area, fortified with ramparts of kabook or laterite rock, 2.5 metres (8 ft 2 in) high and 10.7 metres (35 ft) in breadth.
In 1391, following the conquest of the Jaffna Kingdom by Prince Sapumal (Sembahap Perumal), Kotte was given the epithet 'Sri Jayawardhanapura' ('resplendent city of growing victory'). It became the capital of the ancient Kingdom of Kotte, which it remained until the end of the 16th century.
From the ramparts to the magnificent three storied buildings that housed the Kings Palace, Laterite and clay were the main raw material used in its construction. One of the places from which the laterite blocks were mined can be seen even today inside the premises of Ananda Sasthralaya (a local school).
The main features of the capital city were
- The King's palace, with walls of quartz that sparkle in the moonlight (candrakanta pasana) and a golden spire, with beautiful flower gardens and springs of water.
- The three-storeyed Dalada Maligawa with Buddha's sacred tooth relic in it (Temple of the tooth)
- The five-storeyed "Arama" where sixty Buddhist Bhikkus resided, with a Sangha Raja(a high priest)as the chief incumbent.
- The King's Treasure House
- The 'Kotavehara' at Baddagana, the only Buddhist temple of the city outside the moat and rampart.
- The Royal cemetery at Beddagana (Veherakanda memorial)
- The 'Angampitiya', the military parade and training ground just inside the inner moat.
The Portuguese arrived on the island in 1505 and were initially welcomed by the king. But they had militaristic and monopolistic intentions and gained control of the city by 1565. Failing to withstand repeated assaults by the forces of the neighbouring kingdom of Sitawaka, the city was abandoned by the Portuguese, who made Colombo their new capital.
Like similar cities of that era, Sri Jayawardhanapura was built with security in mind. A rampart and moat protected the entire city. Traces of this moat and rampart are still visible today at certain places. Along parts of the rampart, encroachers have now built houses, garages and even toilets.
The urbanisation of Kotte restarted in the 19th century. The archaeological remains were torn up and used as building materials (a process that continues) — some of it even ending up in the Victoria Bridge, across the Kelani River.