Notes on the Geography of Sri Lanka: Kandy: Traditional Houses
The Kandyan kings allowed only a few of their nobles to build houses of more than a single story or to have windows, ornamented doors, tile roofs, whitewashed walls, or rooftop flags. The city, in short, was austere, except for the Temple of the Tooth, the royal palace, and a dozen valavvas, or manor houses, belonging to the nobility. With the arrival of the British in 1815, these restrictions were forgotten, and people did begin building more substantial houses. A few survive.
A good example is here, even though it's very easy to walk past without paying it any attention. Still, you can pick out the classical elements of the heavy tiled roof and column-supported veranda.
A cleaner view of the same house, which is on the list of the city's heritage monuments.
Here's another example, with the same elements but including also a staircase up from the street: this, too, was a classic feature of the city's traditional building style.
Very few such buildings survive--probably not more than a dozen.
The steps lead to a lattice-screened veranda.
Beyond the veranda, there's a doorway into another room. A decorative lattice provides some ventilation.
The archway into the next room is characteristic: the same thing is found in parts of the Old Palace, for example, where it is trimmed with scallops and plaster figures of animals.
Somewhere in the house, there is a courtyard for domestic chores.
One of those chores was grinding grain--not rice, but the companion staple korukkan, or finger millet. This crop was the sole staple in Sri Lanka before the arrival of rice, and it continued thereafter to be the chief crop grown in chenas, or patches of shifting cultivation. It continues to be grown today but is such a popular food, prepared in many ways after being milled to flour, that Sri Lanka now imports much of it from India.
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