When the Portuguese invaded Kandy in 1603, the Sacred Tooth Relic was carried to a hiding place called Meda Mahanuwara in Dumbara, not far from Hunnasgiriya. Meda Mahanuwara served as a royal residence, too, whenever Kandy was threatened by the European invaders who were in control of the island’s coastal regions. When the British captured Kandy in 1815, Medamahanuwara was also the refuge of Sri Lanka’s King, Sri Vikrama Rajasinha. It was here that they finally found and arrested him, before he was sent to exile in India.
Ironically, this small remote place is called “Maha”, meaning “Grand”. “Nuwara” is the Sinhala name for city in general and for Kandy in particular. Thus, “Mahanuwara” literally means “Greater Kandy”. However, this is very common in Sri Lanka, that suburbs or villages outside towns carry the same name as the town with the prefix “Maha”. For example, “Maha Galgamuwa” is a very small and secluded village, whereas Galgamuwa is much larger. And remember, the literal meaning of “Mahanuwara” would be “major city” or “metropolis” - a proud name for such a small historical site.
Read more about Medamahanuwara here...
Nuwan Chinthaka Gajanayaka,