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King Vimaladharmasuriya I (1592-1604)

Shortly after Don phillip became the king, Konappu Bandara slayed him  and became the king of Udarata in the name Vimaladharmasuriya I. Turning into Buddhism, he acted as an independent Sinhala king. The detachment sent to Kinady by the king Sitavaka Rajasinghe as a protest  against this was defeated by the king Vimaladharmasuriya I at Ganethenna. Shorty after this, king Rajasinghe I died in 1593 at Pethangoda, and after two years, Portuguese invaded the areas which were under both Kotte and Sitavaka Kingdoms. Thereafter, Kandy became the one and only independent kingdom of Srilanka for over 2 centuries.

In 1594, Pero Lopez de Souza led an expedition to Kandy and was able to place Kusumasana devi alias Dona Catherina on the throne, who is the daughter  of Karalliyadde Bandara. Yet, Sinhalese in Kandy realized that  Portuguese are trying to  take hold of hill country under the cover of  Kusumasana Devi and therefore, they gathered around the king Vimaladharmsuriya. King Vimaladharmsuriya, who had lived with Portuguese for a long time knew their language, customs and war strategies and ensued a fierce battle at Danture, massacred the Portuguese army and regained the throne. By marrying Kusumasana Devi, the legal heiress to the throne, he ensured a legal status to the position as the king.

He gained custody to the sacred tooth relic which was deemed the symbol of the title to the throne, which was hidden at the Delgamuwa temple for safety. The king constructed a two storied chamber  in  Kandy and placed the tooth relic there. Also, he restored the Lankathilaka and Gadaladeniya temples and shed light to the religion. Also, he pioneered the revival of higher ordination by getting monks from Burma (Myanmar).

Also, King Vimaladharmsuriya paid attention to the agricultural development  of the region, and developed the iron industry in Kothmale and Valapane to make weapon. To face future threats from Portuguese, he hired an army from Madurai, South India and improved the security to the kingdom. As Kandy was the only kingdom of the island since the fall of Seethavaka, Sinhalese who lived away from Kandy too accepted Vimaladharmsuriya as their kind. The expedition to Udarata in 1602, led by the Portuguese Captain Don Jerenimo de Azevedo was successfully defeated by the King.

Two Dutch  emissaries visited the king during the later part of his reign and this proves that he has tried to develop relationships with the Dutch. At the time,  Kandyan kingdom was the strongest kingdom of the country and the foundation laid by him paid way for the later rulers to continue the sovereignity of the kingdom even after  his death in 1604.


  • Dr Priyanka Bandara
    05/05/2022 at 11:50

    Thank you for maintaining this information page as an attempt to preserve the precious heritage not only of the historic Kandauda rata (anglicised Kandy) but the entire Sinhale nation (Ceylan, Ceylon, modern Sri Lanka) and human history. It is important to know what our ancestors went through to protect our nation from many foreign invasions. There is a tragic loss of interest in history in modern Sri Lanka which must be corrected.

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