A ceremony was held on 24 August at the site of the Bogambara Prison Complex Redevelopment to announce the opening of Phase I of the project for the Bogambara Cultural Park as well as the inauguration of these.
The project was officially opened by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, who formally unveiled a plaque in honour of the occasion and also delivered the keynote address.
Also gracing the event were Minister of Development Strategies and International Trade Malik Samarawickrama, Minister of Public Enterprises and Kandy Development Lakshman Kiriella, Minister of Megapolis and Western Development Patali Champika Ranawaka, Deputy Minister of Development Strategies and International Trade Nalin Bandara, Ministry of Development Strategies and International Trade Secretary S.T. Kodikara, Board of Investment of Sri Lanka Chairman Mangala Yapa and its Director General Champika Malalgoda. Also present were the Ambassadors of Japan and Thailand and senior State officials.
The project will offer considerable benefits to the country and more specifically to the city of Kandy, as it will include an open air theatre, studio for traditional arts and crafts, a tourist information centre and multiple recreational areas.
The project will also impact favourably on the lives of the residents of the city of Kandy by generating new opportunities for employment as well as creating avenues for trade, tourism and investment.
Wickremesinghe stated: “We want to develop the city of Kandy including the Bogambara cultural complex in the same way as the Galle Fort, Trincomalee and Anuradhapura were developed as areas of cultural interest, in view of growing tourist arrivals into the country”.
The project for the former prison complex is also of considerable historic value. It is in fact one of the oldest existing buildings in Kandy, a city declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO, and considered an archaeological landmark.
Built in 1876 by Prisons and Police of the British Ceylon Government Inspector General N.R. Saunders, Bogambara’s Prison’s main inspiration was the Bastille fortress in Paris.
Bogambara was Sri Lanka’s second-largest prison and housed gallows, as well as serious offenders and the death row.
To develop the Bogambara Cultural Park, the Government of Sri Lanka in 2013 transferred the inmates to a new prison complex in Pallekelle. A decision was made to conserve the buildings because of their archaeological and historic value.
The master plan for the project and design redevelopment was established by the Ministry of National Policies and Economic Affairs on 9 December 2016 and will be implemented by the Ministry of Development Strategies and International Trade, Ministry of Megapolis and Western Development, Urban Development Authority, Central Engineering Services Ltd and Board of Investment of Sri Lanka under the guidance and supervision of the Department of Archaeology.