Dawson Tower in Kadugannawa

Dawson Tower, or Captain Dawson Tower, is an ancient concrete structure that is situated in Kadugannawa. The white-colored structure was built in 1832 by Britain. It was constructed to remember Captain William Francis Dawson and his excellence. The height of the tower is 13.5 m.

Location of the Dawson Tower

Dawson Tower is situated in Kadugannawa, a small town in the Kandy district. The distance from Colombo is 100 km and from Kandy, is 15 km. This tower can be seen as you drive through Pahala Kadugannawa and before entering Kadugannawa town. The place is considered the highest elevation point on the Kandy-Colombo A1 route. It was the first modern highway in Sri Lanka.


Britain captured the last kingdom of Kandy in 1815. They were fired by King Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe, who was the last ruler of the Kandyan Kingdom. The British Army was the first European force to capture the Kandyan Kingdom after 300 years. Both the Portuguese and Dutch armies tried hard but ended up with losses. During that period, there was no clear road between Kandy and Colombo.

Initially, the Sinhalese were unhappy about the British rules. Then they fought again with the British Army in 1818, and it was a huge battle. The British army struggled due to the lack of quick transportation between Kandy and Colombo. But the British army once again controlled the battle and got the victory. They identified the need to improve transportation between the capital cities of Colombo and Kandy.

Then they started the road in 1820. Major Thomas Skiner supervised the Warakapola-Ambanpitiya part. After him, the most difficult part was supervised by Captain William Francis Dawson. But unfortunately, Dawson was sick because of the snake bite during work. He was taken to Colombo for treatment. But unfortunately, he died on March 28th, 1829.

However, Dawson’s planning was successful, and Britain opened a new road between Colombo and Kandy via Kadugannawa. After the death of Dawson, his friends suggested making a memorial to remember him. They proposed it to Sir Robert Horton, who agreed with it. Starting in 1829, they finished the Dawson Tower in 1832. It was much like the Wellington Tower in London. Both towers were opened on the same day. Since then, people remember the excellence of Captain Dawson when they are passing the tower.

The Current Situation of the Dawson Tower

The place is nice enough to wait a few minutes and take some photographs. But it’s extremely dangerous to reach the top of the tower. It has a wooden upstairs. But it is in poor condition. Inside, it is completely gloomy, and you cannot see anything without a light. So, it’s better if you don’t try to go to the top. It looks like nobody is controlling or managing the tower.

However, Dawson Tower is a great place to visit near Kadugannawa, and remember the contribution of Captain Dawson to the country.

Other Places to Visit Near Kadugannawa

(Cover Image Credit: Pavithra Nawarathne )

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