Heiyantuduwa Raja (elephant)

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Not to be confused with Raja (elephant).
Heiyantuduwa Raja
Heiyantuduwa Raja's Photo.jpg
Historic Elephant
Species Asian elephant
Sex Male
Born 1924
Hambantota District, Sri Lanka
Died 6 November 2002 (aged about 78)
Kandy District, Sri Lanka
Resting place National Museum of Colombo
Years active 1945 – 2002 in captivity
Owner William Gunasekara
and Henry Gunasekara

Heiyantuduwa Raja (Sinhala:හෙයියන්තුඩුවේ රාජා) was a Sri Lankan elephant, which carried the Relic of the tooth of the Buddha casket in the Dalada Perahera for 11 years after the demise of Maligawa Raja. Heiyantuduwa Raja's tusks were each 7 ft 6 in (2.3 m) in length when he was living and it was considered as one of the longest tusks in the country.[1]


Last owner of Heiyantuduwa Raja,
Henry Gunasekara
First owner of Heiyantuduwa Raja,
William Gunasekara with his
wife Eugine Gunasekara

He was captured from the Kattakaduwana jungle in Hambantota District. On 8 March 1945, the tusker had been public auctioned by then British Ceylon government at Hambantota Kachcheri and then William Gunasekara (also known as 'Heiyantuduwa Ralahami') of Heiyantuduwa in Biyagama had bought him for Rupees 10,500. Gunasekara was a wealthy landed proprietor and owned fourteen elephants at that era. Later Heiyantuduwa Raja was owned by his youngest son Henry Gunasekara of Kandy.

Historic Elephant[edit]

Heiyantuduwe Raja participated at the Esala Perahera in Kandy for several years. After the demise of Maligawa Raja he also carried the casket of tooth relic for 11 years from 1989 to 2000 with permission from Neranjan Wijeyeratne, then Diyawadana Nilame of Sri Dalada Maligawa. To carry the casket of tooth relic was an opportunity enjoyed by only a few elephants in Sri Lanka. Heiyantuduwe Raja had also carried the main casket of Buddha's relics at the Kelaniya Duruthu Perahera, Bellanwila Perahera and Gangaramaya Navam Perahera in addition to the Sri Dalada casket.

Heiyantuduwa Raja's Skeleton at
National Museum, Colombo
Heiyantuduwa Raja's Skeleton Opening Ceremony to public display at National Museum, Colombo Sri Lanka on 29 January 2013 by Dr. Jagath Balasooriya Cabinet Minister of National Heritage

National Heritage[edit]

Heiyantuduwa Raja died on 6 November 2002; he was about 78 years old at the time of his death. Despite an offer of U.S. Dollars 120,000 by a Japanese company, Henry Gunasekara gave his skeleton to the Sri Lankan government in recognition of his part in the nation's heritage. Heiyantuduwa Raja's skeleton has been on display to the public at the National Museum of Colombo since 29 January 2013 [2]

See also[edit]