Sri Jayawardenapura-Kotte

Sri Jayawardenapura-Kotte (ශ්‍රී ජයවර්ධනපුර කෝට්ටේ in Sinhalese and ஸ்ரீ ஜயவர்த்தனபுரம் கோட்டே in Tamil), also known as Kotte කෝට්ටේ, is the administrative capital of Sri Lanka. It is located beyond the eastern suburbs of the commercial capital Colombo and is often called New Capital territory. The Parliament of Sri Lanka has been based there since the formal inauguration of its new building on 29 April 1982.


Kotte (meaning 'Fortress') was the capital of the ancient Kingdom of Kotte from the 14th to the 16th centuries. Situated in a marshland, it was founded on the banks of the Diyawanna Oya river as a fortress against invasions from the Jaffna Kingdom of Arya Chakaravarthi in the 13th century by a local chieftain named Nissanka Alagakkonara. 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 marshes forming two long sides; along the shorter third (land) side a large moat (the 'inner moat') was dug.

The city was fortified with ramparts of kabook or laterite rock. 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, could be seen even today inside the Ananda Sasthralaya (a local school) premises.

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.


The ancient name, Jayawardenepura, is hardly different from the city's present name. Though during those times, it referred to the area outside the inner moat called Pitakotte (outer fort) and the area inside, Ethul Kotte (inner fort).

The word Kotte is derived from the Tamil word Kottei (fortress). Jayawardhanapura meaning "victory enhancing city" in Sinhala, was the name assigned to the place by its founder Alagakkonara.

In 1979, with the decision to redevelop Kotte and its suburbs as the administrative capital of the island within a municipal structure, Kotte got back its former name of Sri-Jaya-Vardhana-Pura-Kotte, translated as "the blessed fortress city of growing victory".


The New Parliament was inaugurated on 29 April 1982. It was built once a massive lake was formed by dredging the marshlands around the Diyawanna Oya. The new parliamentary buildings were built on Duwa, a 50,000 square metre (12 acre) island in the centre of the lake. The island (off Baddegana Road, Pita Kotte) had been used as a recreation and brawling spot for Portuguese soldiers in the last days of the Kotte era, alcohol being banned from the Royal City. It had belonged to E.W. Perera and had housed a chicken farm prior to being vested in the state. On 29 April 1982, the new parliamentary complex was declared open by President J.R. Jayawardene.

The process of relocating government institutions from the former capital of Colombo is still in progress.

Municipal structure

The Kotte Urban Development Council was created in the 1930s, with a modern building at Rajagiriya. It was succeeded by the Kotte Urban Council, which had a large section of its area removed and tagged onto the Colombo Municipal Council ward of Borella while the Battaramulla urban council was dissolved and a small section of Battaramulla tagged onto the Kotte Urban Council. The Kotte Urban Council became the Sri Jayawardanapura Kotte Municipal Council in 1997, with Chandra Silva as the first Mayor.

There are 20 Members of the Municipal Council (MMCs), elected on proportional representation. There are 10 wards, but these are now merely polling divisions, without individual representation.

Suburbs in the local government area


Kotte is a multi-ethnic, multi-religion city. The population of Kotte is mainly Sinhalese, with a mix of Muslims, Burghers and Tamils. There are small communities of people with Chinese, Portuguese, Dutch, Malay and Indian origins living here as well as a sizable expatriate community. According to the census of 2001 the demographics by ethnicity and religion is as follows.

Ethnic & Religious Identification in Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte
Sinhalese 101,331 87.49% Helayo
Sri Lankan Tamil 6,583 5.68%
Indian Tamil 786 0.68%
Sri Lankan Moor 4,031 3.48%
Burgher 1,367 1.18%
Malay 919 0.79%
Sri Lankan Chetty 65 0.06%
Baratha 57 0.05%
Other 687 0.59%
Total 115,826 100.00%
Buddhist 93,364
Hindu 4,550
Islam 5,465
Roman Catholic 8,659
Other Christian 3,618
Other 170



The only major railway station is at Nugegoda, on the Kelani Valley Line. Also at Nugegoda is the city's main bus terminus. There are subsidiary bus stands at Pita Kotte and Welikada. The city is well served by buses and there is a major CTB bus depot at Udahamulla.

A Passenger boat service is 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, Wellawatte, Duplication road and at St Peter's College, Colombo.


Kotte has a large public hospital, The Sri Jayawardenepura Hospital - also known as Nava rohala - located in Sri Jayawardenepura. There is also a dedicated Eye & ENT hospital at Rajagiriya, and another Maternity hospital under construction in Nawala.


There are a number of State and Private Schools in Kotte. They are either "National schools" (run by the state), Semi-government/Private schools or International schools (run by trusts and individuals). The Education Ministry as well as the Department of Examinations is based here.

A considerable amount of the students living in the city limits study at government owned colleges and International schools in Colombo.

Ananda Sastralaya located in the Kotte, That is the one of the oldest school located in Kotte.The oldest school which was known as Christian College is located in Kotte. And relocated at Bataramulla from its previous site in Colombo 02 is the Oldest International school catering exclusively to the expatriate community and a few select nationals; The Overseas School of 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.


The Kotte Municipal Council is responsible for road maintenance and door-to-door garbage collection in the city. They also are responsible for keeping Storm drains clean to cope with the heavy Tropical rains.

The largest telephone service provider is Sri Lanka Telecom, which previously held a monopoly over fixed line services, and provides fixed line as well as mobile services through its subsidiary Mobitel. Cell phone coverage is extensive, and the main service providers are Dialog Telekom, Mobitel, Tigo and Hutch. Both GSM and CDMA services are available in the city and Broadband internet penetration is increasing. Mobitel supplies the city with 3.5G mobile solutions while Dialog Telekom provides 3G.

Electricity is provided by the Lanka Electricity Co. Ltd.


Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Avg Temp °C
Precipitation centimeters

source: Weatherbase

Sports and recreation

Cricket is the most popular sport in the city as well as the country, and is usually played in the grounds around the city. Incidentally, Kotte's government representative in Parliament is the ICC Cricket World Cup winning captain Arjuna Ranatunga.

Football has grown in popularity, and the sport now has a considerable following. The Football association's new training facility at Kotte is aimed at harnessing and developing the available talent and organizing the individual players into a cohesive team. It includes a football playground with a sprinkler system, gym and a host of other facilities.

Golf is another pastime that has increased in popularity. The Waters Edge country club is an 11-hole golf course located at Battaramulla. Its infrastructure includes: Restaurant/dining room/ballroom/conference hall, Driving range with 20 bays - 300 metres in length and floodlit for practice at night. Chip and putt area with bunkers, Swimming pool, Spa, Gym, Games arcade, Beauty salon and a Karaoke lounge.

Other sports are mostly played in the numerous clubs and gyms, and include tennis, squash, billiards, horse riding, Indoor cricket, badminton and table tennis.

Horse riding can be pursued at the Premadasa Riding School in Nugegoda.

External links






  • Sri Jayawardenapura-Kotte is at coordinates

Citations and notes

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