Wansapurna Dewage David alias Gongale Goda Banda (aka Peliyagoda David) (13 March 1809 - 1 December 1849 ) was the leader of the 1848 Rebellion, pretender to the throne of Kandy and a National Heroe of Sri Lanka.
Born on 13 March 1809
as the second son of Wansapurna Dewage Sinchia Fernando, he had been employed by the police and was engaged in transport work on the Kandy road and came to reside at Gongalegoda, Udunuwara where he became a popular figure among the Kandyans. At the age of 35 he married the daughter of Gongalegoda Menik Rala, he was 5 feet 6 inches in height.
He was seen at the Dalada Maligawa just before the 1848 Rebellion
broke out. Gongalegoda Banda led the protest march regarding unjustifiable taxes which was held on 6th July 1848 near the Kandy Kachchery. The rebellion was the first major uprising against the British since the Uva Rebellion
in 1818. The movement for the liberation of the island in 1848 was led by leaders such as Gongalegoda Banda, Puran Appu
, Dines, Dingi Rala who were supported by the people.
Proclamation of the king
On 26 July 1848
, the leaders and the supporters entered the historic Dambulla Vihara
and there Gongalegoda Banda was crowned by the head pries of Dambulla, Ven. Giranegama Thera. According to the head priest of Dambulla, Gongalegoda Banda was called "Sri Wickrama Siddapi" and spoke fluently in Sinhala. He asked the people, whether you are on the side of the Buddhist? or British? On this historic day Dines, his brother was declared the sub-king and Dingirala as the prince of Sath Korale. Puranappu was appointed as the prime minister or the sword bearer to Gongalegoda Banda. Puran Appu attended the consecration ceremony of Gongalegoda Banda with 400 others.
After the proclamation of the king, he with his army left Dambulla via Matale to capture Kandy from the British. In Matale they raided the Mackdowel Fort in Matale on 28 July 1848 causing much loss to the British amidst well fortified resistance. They attacked government buildings specially the Matale Kachcheri and destroyed the tax records. Simultaneously, Dingirirala instigated attacks in Kurunegala, where eight people were shot dead by the British army. The British Governor, Lord Torrington immediately declared Martial Law on 29 July 1848 and 31 July in Kandy and Kurunegala respectively.
The Rebellion fails
Rebellion was aborted after several Korale Mahattayas
betrayed the rebels for rewards from the British, this resulted in the arrest of Puran Appu 29 July 1848 at Wariyapola and Gongalegoda Banda and his elder brother Dines escaped and went into hiding. he Governor issued a warrant on Gongalegoda Banda for his arrest and award of 150 pounds to be given for anyone who gave information of his whereabouts.
Trial and exile
On 21 September 1848, Gongalegoda Banda was arrested by the Malay soldiers at Elkaduwa and was brought to Kandy. The trial of Gongalegoda Banda commenced on 27 November at the Supreme Court sessions in Kandy. He was charged of high treason for claiming he himself as the King of Kandy, declaring as a descendent of the Kandy Kings, ongoing and waging war against the British. He bravely declared that he was guilty of all the above charges. The Judgement of the Supreme Court was that he to be hanged on 1 January 1849. However, on an appeal made by Gongalegoda Banda to the Governor a proclamation was issued on 29 December 1848 to amend the death sentence to flogging 100 times and exiled.
On 1 January 1849, Gongalegoda Banda was flogged 100 times in Kandy before a large gathering of people and sent in to exile in Malacca (now Malaysia). Governor Lord Torrington writing a dispatch to the Secretary of State informed that deportation for life was more severe than death penalty. By deporting Gongalegoda Banda, Governor instilled a permanent fear among the inhabitants for future rebellion against the British rule. Gongalegoda Banda who was exiled to Malacca arrived there on 3 May 1849. He died on 1 December 1849 in Malacca, which was reported by Tikiri Banda Dunuwila who was also exiled there.