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Henarathgoda Railway Station : An archaeological value of more than one and a half centuries

18 July 2018 12:00 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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The Colombo-Kandy hill-country railway line completes 165 years on 3rd August 2018 since its commencement on 3rd August 1853 by the English Governor Sir Henry Ward. Among the other railway stations, one of the main railway stations that begun its construction between Colombo and Kandy is the Henarathgoda Railway station.   

The Europeans started to strengthen their commercial power by spreading their religion and going in search of spices, while being engaged in exploratory journeys since 1400 A.D. with the emergence of the European renaissance. It was the British who arrived in Sri Lanka after the Portuguese and Dutch. After the capturing of Sri Lanka by the British, they began to focus their attention on the plantation economy. Accordingly, by 1870, the main source of  income in Sri Lanka was coffee, and all economic activities had depended on the coffee industry.  

 

The Europeans started to strengthen their commercial power by spreading their religion and going in search of spices, while being engaged in exploratory journeys since 1400 A.D. with the emergence of the European renaissance

 

However, the transport of coffee to Colombo, by that time, was difficult through hill-country routes and heavy fog. Therefore, it was essential to introduce profitable as well as quick methods of dispatching coffee to Colombo. Then, the planters in Sri Lanka had pointed out the necessity of building railway lines to the British rulers who had already started to construct railway lines in many European countries. The planters had thought the coffee industry would collapse if proper railway facilities were not available from the estate sector to dispatch coffee at cheaper prices.   

With this objective in mind, the protest campaign that was reported for the first time in Sri Lanka was that of the planters. As a result of this protest, the construction of the railway line between Colombo and Kandy was entrusted with the British East India Trading Company. Marking the historic even of constructing this line, the Governor Henry Ward had cut the first sod of soil on 3rd August 1858. However, this construction was stopped abruptly in 1861 as its expenditure seemed to be excessive.  

Later, the British government itself decided to commence its work and its construction was commenced in 1863.It was on December 27, 1864 that the first railway transport was begun after completion of the railway line. Prince Babent, the inheritor to the throne of Belgium, who arrived in Sri Lanka, travelled in the special train from Colombo to Ambepussa. In this way, with the commencement of the railway line between Colombo and Kandy in 1867, railway travel started between Colombo and Kandy.   

 

Only foot paths had lain through the dense forests in the place where Gampaha town was located during the period of governor Edward Barnes

 

The documents belonging to the colonial period bear evidence that the clearing of the dense jungles in Gampaha was started after 1815, during the period of Sir Edward Barnes who was the fifth British governor in Sri Lanka. It is mentioned that the Governor Edward Barnes who had participated on the occasion of starting the Colombo-Kandy railway line construction in 1825, had arrived in Gampaha as well.   

Only foot paths had lain through the dense forests in the place where Gampaha town was located during the period of governor Edward Barnes. The bullock carts loaded with coffee had travelled using lanterns, from Kandy to Colombo, and the resting place that had been used by the carters is known as Miriswatta at present.   

The Englishmen had taken steps to establish a jungle park as a resting place in Henarathgoda area that had been used by the English travellers who travelled by train. However, the Henarathgoda railway station was established by the English rulers for the Englishmen to go after enjoying the beauty of the park and resting. 

 

 

 

After completion of the Colombo-Kandy railway station within six years, a train which ran along this line had stopped at Henarathgoda railway station for the first time when it was completed on December 27, 1864. The villagers in Henarathgoda and suburbs were surprised at the sight of this train for the first time.   

With the passage of time, Henarathgoda park had been transformed into a botanical garden. Then, the present name of Henarathgoda became Gampaha which is a densely populated town today. The main mode of transport at that time was train transport, because there was no public bus service.  

At present, the main town of the administrative district is known as ( Henarathgoda ) Gampaha where there is a population of about 2,300,000 with the opening of the gates of development.   

Therefore, the Department of Archaeology has gazetted this place as a site with archaeological importance by conserving it so that the future generation could admire this historic place.

Let this historic place live long for the good of the future generations.  

 

At present, the main town of the administrative district is known as ( Henarathgoda ) Gampaha where there is a population of about 2,300,000 with the opening of the gates of development.

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