Quick Enquiry

Maligawa Tusker

Raja the Maligawa Tusker Sri Lankan tusker elephant belonged to the Sri Dalada Maligawa

Raja (Sinhala:රාජා ඇතා - Raja Atha) (also known as Maligawa Raja) was a Sri Lankan tusker elephant belonged to the Sri Dalada Maligawa, Kandy. Raja participated at the annual Esala procession in Kandy for around 50 years and was the sacred casket bearer of the final Randoli perehera for 37 years. He was one of the most celebrated elephants in Asia during his lifetime, and was world famous for his noble behavior. On August 20, 1986 former Sri Lankan President J. R. Jayewardene declared Raja as a national treasure, in recognition of his valuable services to the religion and culture of Sri Lanka.

Most of the times Raja carried the sacred casket at the annual perahera in Kandy flanked by Skanda and another tusker elephant. Sometimes Skanda too carried the casket, but Raja was the casket bearer of the important final Randoli perehera. Even after the demise of Skanda, the fellow tusker elephant in 1986, Raja continued his responsibilities as the chief tusker of the Esala procession in 1987. After serving Buddhist processions for about 50 years, Raja died in July 1988 due to an illness and his death prompted the government to order a day of national mourning in Sri Lanka. A postage stamp was issued in its memory on December 12, 1989, and also the 1000 Rupee bill, with Raja and the Muslim trainer Umar Lebbe Panicker from Eravur in Batticola. Raja's stuffed remains are presently kept in a special museum within the grounds of the Temple of the Tooth.