Welcome to Ambalangoda, Visit Ambalangoda !
To most Sri Lankans Ambalangoda is associated with the colourful traditional wooden masks that are made here.
Most travellers on a trip to the south skip Ambalangoda. In case you stop over here en route to some other destination, the mask museum and some of the surrounding villages can be of interest.
How to get to Amabalangoda by road or by rail
Getting there - By road
Buses to Ambalangoda stop on Galle Road right under the clock tower.
If you are travelling by car, you can quit the Southern expressway at Bombuwala, reach Katurunda on the coast and then travel southwards on Galle Road that hugs the coastline.
Although the Ambalangoda railway station is a minor halt on the east coast, about ten trains from Colombo Fort to the south of the island stop here each day. From Colombo, the journey lasts about two hours and costs around Rs.260 (1st class tickets).
Attractions to see in Ambalangoda
Ariyapala Mask Museum
Ambalangoda is the Mecca of masks. To admire a vast collection of masks of every size, hue, shape and utility, the Mask Museum on Main Street is the place to go and discover them patiently. The Ariyapala family that set up the place took pains to save and exhibit an important part of Sri Lankan folklore and culture. At the far end of the gallery is a workshop where artisans sculpt, craft and paint wooden masks of all kinds, some of which are available for sale.
Main St, Ambalangoda, Sri Lanka
The Main Street of Ambalangoda is in itself worth a visit. The colourful little shops that line the streets sell what there is to see, touch and smell in Sri Lanka. If you decide to take a little time off and amble around here, make sure you step inside the Fish Market situated where Main Street and Station Road intersect, very close to Ambalangoda Railway Station. The three-floored building is full of animation from early morning to early afternoon, the kind not easily seen elsewhere on this part of the island.
Bandu Wijesooriya School of Dancing
Set up in 1987, this place on Main Street, not far from the Mask Museum, remains one of the rare authentic schools to admire the traditional Kolam dance with masks. You can call them at 91 225 8750 to reserve in advance.
Mitiyagoda and Balapitiya are must see places around Ambalangoda
The Sailatalarama Vihara, set on a hilltop about 5km from Ambalangoda, dominates the Madampe Lake and the surrounding spice plantations. The temple is known for its 35-metre long reclining Buddha and colourful frescoes. For those of you who wish to do the visit like most local pilgrims, you can reach the temple complex by climbing the 208 steps. Others can use a motorised vehicle to get to the top and climb down the steps for the return.
Entry is free to locals.
Foreigners pay Rs.250.
A tuk-tuk ride to and from Ambalangoda should cost you around Rs.500.
The little town of Mitiyagoda some 6 km south east of Ambalangoda is worth a visit for its mines, especially the ones from where moonstones are extracted. Moonstone is a variety of feldspar with a special glitter that makes it look like a shining moon. Considered as a semi-precious stone, it is often mounted on bracelets, earrings and necklaces. The artisanal mines have only the basic necessities like a thatched roof over a mineshaft. The people working there can show you specimens of raw moonstone and the work that consists of washing recently mined gravel. Most mines have a boutique adjacent to them, although it is difficult to know if all the stones and jewels come straight from the mine.
Karandeniya Galagoda Shailathanaramaya Temple
Almost 11 km north east of Ambalangoda, on the road to Elpitiya, is the little town of Karandeniya. Over here lies what is said to be the longest reclining Buddha statue in South Asia. To reach the temple, you will need to climb over 250 steps or take a dirt road through cinnamon plantations. Once inside the temple, you can admire the 35-metre long statue made of cement dating back to over 200 years along side other brightly coloured statues of both Sinhalese and Tamil kings that ruled over the island. Outside, the view of the vegetation and countryside is stupendous. The whole place, wrapped in sanctity and serenity, is a fitting abode to the gods.
Just north of Ambalangoda, the Madu River at Balapitiya offers a good boat riding opportunity. The village is also famous for the Balapitiya Sri Pushparama Maha Viharaya, a Buddhist temps that looks like a Christian church from the outside.
Sandy beaches to visit near Ambalangoda
You can head to the sandy shores in Ahungalla Beach and Balapitiya Beach to enjoy the sea. Their tropical golden look and tranquility (except for fishermen pulling out their nets) are a hit among visitors.
Madugana, a top wildlife spot to be visited from Ambalangoda !
The Maduganga Lake and the Randombe Lake are connected by a 3-kilometre long channel forming a wetland that covers over 900 hectares. The scenic beauty of the area is enhanced by the 60 and odd mangrove islets.
The wetland consists of multitudinous varieties of plants that offer nesting grounds to a large number of invertebrates, reptiles, birds and mammals. A boat ride on the lakes will allow you to spot many species including Mugger Crocodile, Estuarine Crocodile and Purple-faced Leaf Monkey. Over a hundred bird species have been recorded here including rare ones such as the Sri Lanka Bush Warbler, Ceylon Bush Pigeon, Sri Lanka Whistling Thrush, etc.
Activities for children when traveling to Ambalangoda
Kosgoda Turtle Hatchery
There are five varieties of Sea Turtles found in Sri Lanka: Olive Ridley Turtle, Loggerhead Turtle, Green Turtle, Hawksbill Turtle and Leatherhead Turtle. The area from Ahungalla to Kosgoda is a famous nesting ground for most of them. The Sea Turtle Conservation Projets in Kosgoda, established in 1988 to protect Sri Lanka’s turtles from extinction, has a long track record. The hatchery collects the eggs especially during the main egg-laying season (October to April) and releases the baby turtles when they hatch, around 50 days later.
Visitors can admire these newly hatched turtles before they are released back to the ocean. You can also get to see albino turtles or injured or disabled turtles that are kept here because they would not survive in the wild.
Opening hours: 9 am – 5 pm daily
Entry fee: Rs.200
Ayurveda cure, something you can try when in Ambalangoda!
Ayurveda is a 5,000-year-old system of natural medicine that has its origins in the Vedic culture of India. More than a mere system of treating illness, Ayurveda is a science of life. It offers guidelines on ideal daily and seasonal routines, diet, behavior and the proper use of the senses.
Recognizing that human beings are part of nature, Ayurveda describes three fundamental energies that govern our body: movement, transformation, and structure. Known in Sanskrit as Vata (Wind), Pitta (Fire), and Kapha (Earth), these primary forces are responsible for the characteristics of our mind and body. According to Ayurveda, each person has a unique proportion of these three forces that shapes our nature.
An important goal of Ayurveda is to identify a person’s ideal state of balance, determine where they are out of balance, and offer interventions using diet, herbs, aromatherapy, massage treatments, music, and meditation to reestablish balance.
In and around Ambalangoda, you can find quite many clinics that offer all-in-all packages that include boarding, lodging and Ayurvedic treatment.