Wednesday, March 24, 2010
“DORIC” The House of the first British Governor at Aripo, Sylvathurai some fascinating insights into the past which very few people are aware of
I visited the remains of a house, now long abandoned to the elements, of Frederick North the first British Governor built in 1804 to oversee the then most famous export of our Island, the Oyster Pearl from here where the Pearl Fisheries were. The House was supposed to be the most beautiful house in the Island at that time as it was a purpose built house completely designed in a style for in keeping with European architecture, but which was nevertheless the ultimate beach house!!
All European Royalty from then till now wear natural Pearls, white, black and pink that were collected from Oysters off Kondachchi Bay overlooking this house.
Some interesting observations are that the sea erosion has eaten into our landmass as there was probably at least 30meters of land from the house on top of the cliff to the sea. Now the remains are at the edge of the sea and in a few years what remains will also fall down the cliff into the water.
There are mother of pearl shells strewn all around, as a by-product of the Pearl Fisheries, and there no telling if that remains now what there would have been then. There would have been a thriving secondary industry using the mountains of oyster shells from which mother of pearl ornaments etc were made.
The sea shore as can be seen from the photos is straight with no beach, but one can walk a considerable distance into the water making it perfect at this time of year to bathe as there are no waves. Ideal bathing spot!! Of course no one uses it as we don’t normally bathe in the sea if it is at our back yard.
Just imagine the parties that the Governor would have thrown here at the height of the Pearl Fishing season. Details of which are described in a book by the Governor’s chaplain, Reverend James Cordiner’s Description of Ceylon 1807.
The divers were usually from South India and from Africa. There may have been Arab traders and traders from all over the world to purchase these valuable items.