In June 1888 a new school with one student was opened at a place in Bodhiraja Mawatha near the present Central Bus Stand in Kurunegala, pioneered by Semenaries A. Bamunu-Arachchige, a young Maha-Vidane who had been put in charge of four villages by Maha-Mudaliyar Bandaranaike and Colonel Henry Steel Olcott with the assistance of local donors, Hulugalle, Adikaram and Mudaliyar Attygala. The school was named Kurunegala Buddhist Institution.
The school was managed by the Buddhist Theosophical Society. The first manager of the school was Bamunu-Arachchige Semenaries who had been elected by the Maha-Mudaliyar himself and Sir Olcott. Maha-Vidane Semenaries was still young at the time of his promotion so the Society decided to hire Sir Olcott to help and teach him to run the school.

By 1908, the number of students has risen to one hundred still under the leadership of Maha-Vidane Semenaries. In 1909 the school was moved to new premises at a Buddhist Temple Ethkanda Viharaya along the Kandy – Kurunegala main road. This was decided by Mudaliyar Bandaranaike and Maha Vidane Semenaries.
In 1922, the management was changed from the Buddhist Theosophical Society to the YMBA and Dr. H.K.T. Zilva became the new manager.
The school was still governed by B.A Semenaries and being a Maha-Vidane, had the power to change anything if given permission by the Mudaliyar of the Province. In late 1927, Maha-Vidane Semenaries changed the school’s name to Maliyadeva College.B.A. Semenaries retired from governing the school in 1931 and after forty-three years as Maha-Vidane he gave the position to Bandaranike’s son, the future Prime-Minister of Ceylon. Before leaving, Maha-Vidane Semeneries appointed U.B. Wanninayaka (Who later became a politician and Government Minister) as the Principal in 1930 and abolished the manager system. Sir Olcott died in 1907. Maha-Vidane Semenaries died in June 1945.


In 1934, a batch of students from the Maliyadeva College appeared for the SSC Examination (equivalent to current GCE) for the first time.
By 1936, the premises at Ethkanda Viharaya was not big enough. Former governor Maha-Vidane Semenaries and Mudaliyar Bandaranaike, who was on his last term, gave the order for the school to be moved to its current location along the Negombo- Kurunegala road. The land was owned by Madawala Disawa and bought by H.K.T. De Zilva.
P. De S. Kularatne was appointed as the manager in 1941. He changed the status of the school into a mixed school.
Due to the second world war, the school buildings and land were taken over by the Army in 1942. The school had to be shifted back to its previous location at Ethkanda Viharaya. The number of students had increased to over three hundred and sixty.
The Primary section of the school was moved to a new location along Colombo – Kurunegala road in 1944. This later became the Maliyadeva Girls’ College.
In 1946 the school was handed back to the YMBA by the Army. Only the boys were moved back and Maliyadeva Girls’ College began functioning as a separate school. In the same year the Maliyadeva College became a Government assisted school. The number of students had increased to 800.
In 1949 the school was upgraded to the status of a Grade 1 school. University Entrance (Arts) and SSC (equivalent to current GCE) Science classes were commenced. D.B. Dissanayaka was appointed as the Vice-Principal during this year.
In 1951, students appeared for the University Entrance (Arts) and SSC (Science) Examinations for the first time. T.B.H. Abeysinghe was the first student to enter the University from Maliyadeva College. Later Abeysinghe rose to the position of Professor of History.
University Entrance (Science) classes were commenced in 1953. Wanigasekara was the first graduate science teacher appointed to the school. In 1955 A.P.K. Thilakarathna was first student who pass the SSC (Science) Examinations for the first time.
According to the Education Policy of the incumbent government, the status of the school changed from Government Assisted school to a Government school in 1961 during the take over of all assisted schools. The YMBA handed the school over to the Ministry of Education.

Maliyadeva had won the all-island awards in oriental music and orchestra competitions for many years consecutively. 1979 saw an end of an era as D.B. Dissanayake retired after serving the school fourteen years as the principal. By 1985, the number of students had risen to 3000. The school was upgraded to the status of a “National School” by the Ministry of Education under the reorganization of schools.





The college crest is one of the identities of Maliyadeva College. It is designed with meaningful symbols. Every student wears a uniform with the badge stitched on their pocket

  •  The shield shape of the college crest emphasizes the power and the courage of the school,
  •  On a symmetrically twined ribbon of maroon color the name of the college is carved,
  •  The tusker in the middle represents Athugalpura or Kurunegala, the city where the college is located,
  •  The three lotus flowers symbolize the Triple Gem,
  •  The seven petals in each flower stand for Sath Koralaya, which is what the area was called during the monarchical era,
  •  On top of the shield there is written Vidya Bhushanam Purusha Bhushanam, written in “Sanskrit” caged. This is the motto of Maliyadeva College, which means Knowledge is the Jewel of the Man.


The college flag is the most important visual element for the student in the college. The Maliyadeva flag has, through the years, kept up the college spirit during celebrations.
The flag of the Maliyadeva College has is three horizontal lines starts with navy blue, golden yellow and maroon. In the middle yellow line there is the Crest of the college

College Anthem

Sinhala Lyrics.
පායන සඳ අඹරේ ආ….
පායන සඳ අඹරේ
ලෙසිනා සැම කල් සුදිලේ මලිදෙව්
පාසල් මාතා අපේ ආ….
පායන සඳ අඹරේ
බේදා ආගම් කුළ මල ඈ
නොතකා එක සේ සතර බෙදා //
ශාස්ත්‍ර කළා සැම විද්‍යා //
දත් මහ පඬුවන් බිහි කරවා
දිනේවා කිතුරැස් විහිදා ලෙසිනා
පායන සඳ අඹරේ ආ….
පායන සඳ අඹරේ
ලෙසිනා සැම කල් සුදිලේ මලිදෙව්
පාසල් මාතා අපේ

English Lyrics.
As the moon shines in the sky,
long last our mother school,
with glamour and glory,
Ignoring the difference,
religion and cast
she gives knowledge to everyone,
making genius people with
arts, crafts and all the science,
May long last our mother school
with honor and reputation like
the moon in the sky.