Prime Minister's House (Colombo)
|Town or city||Colombo|
|Client||Government of Sri Lanka|
Prime Minister's House, most commonly known as Temple Trees, is the official residence of the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka. It is located in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Several recent Presidents have used it as their official residence too.
Currently it is used by HE Mahinda Rajapakse, the 5th Executive President of Sri Lanka.
The history of Temple Trees dates back to early 19th century. Its ownership passed though several prominent British administrators and traders. It was owned between 1830-1834 by John Walbeoff of the British Civil Service, who headed the Cinnamon Department of Ceylon. The house was subsequently acquired by George Winter, a wealthy merchant and the first editor of the Colombo Observer. Later it was sold to John Philip Green who named it "Temple Trees" in 1856 for the Temple Trees that grew around the bungalow.
The house was purchased by the British Government of Ceylon and became the residence of the Colonial Secretary. Since 1948 it became the residence of the Prime Minister of Ceylon and D. S. Senanayake became the first Prime Minister to take up residence. Some Prime Ministers since then have preferred to stay at their private homes and only use Temple Trees for official functions. As such S W R D Bandaranaike, who was assassinated while at his private residence at Rosmead Place.
Temple Trees has taken centrestage in many episodes of modern Sri Lankan history. During the attempted military coup in 1962 by senior police and reservist military officers, Temple Trees was the prime target. The armoured cars stationed there were withdrawn to facilitate a take over by troops of the Ceylon Artillery. However the coup was thwarted by the CID and internal security detail of the Royal Ceylon Navy took up guard of Temple Trees. The coup leaders were brought to Temple Trees for questioning.
It once again it became a refuge for Sirimavo Bandaranaike when she was rushed there on the night of April 4, 1971 after an assassination plot was uncovered, to be carried out at her private residence at Rosmead Place, at the outset of the 1971 JVP Insurrection. Many cabinet ministers also took refuge at Temple Trees during the early days of the insurrection. It soon became the primary operations centre for all military operations against the insurrection.
Since the 1970s Temple Trees has been heavily guarded with many roads around the mansion and its grounds closed off due to the Sri Lankan civil war.