Ambalangoda is more popular as a working beach with an ancient fishing culture than a holiday spot, and this is not a beach, where you encounter hordes of foreign tourist gaping at the sky, neither little kids are making sandcastles on the beach. The beach of Ambalangoda is calm and quiet yet very attractive due to the show-white sandy beach, what is surprising is it is largely isilated.
As the dawn approached the light from many dozens of boats blink on the horizon, while many people, most of them are fishers, hike their sarong to sit and patiently wait until their work begins. When the nicely painted boats hit the shoreline, a group of men pull them in, along with the fishnet and singing as they always do. All steps from catching, hauling, cooking and selling is conducted by a group of fisherman that work together; most people start young as they gather know-how of the fishing industry and continue the job for life.
Ambalangoda is a small city on the west coast of Sri Lanka. The population in the city is 60,000 and it is located 72 KM from Colombo. Ambalangoda is conveniently located on the Galle-Colombo main road. The coastal town lies between two popular beach resorts, Bentota and Hikkaduwa. Ambalangoda is a popular day trip location from Colombo.
The city has snow-white sandy beaches on one side, while on the other side it is the picturesque countryside. Ambalangoda is the centre of traditional mask carving in the country. Beginning mask carving in the region goes back hundreds of years. Ambalangoda is a main producer of masks and another wooden souvenir in the country.
The destruction caused by Tsunami
Ambalangoda is a city that was severely affected by Tsunami in 2004, after 8 years, the city is back to normal and it looks far better than it had been. Ambalangoda is one of the best places for beach holidays in Sri Lanka. Even though the Tourism in Ambalangoda is not well developed like in Hikkaduwa or Bentota, there are many small hotels in Ambalangoda. Today Ambalangoda is on the radar of the travellers with the improving tourism infrastructure and several new hotels being built along the coast.
What do people see and do in Ambalangoda Sri Lanka
Being the home for the traditional mask carving in the country, there are many numbers of mask museums and mask carving factories in Ambalangoda. One can see the centuries-old masks and other valuable carvings in the museums.
One can explore the many forms of masks that are being used in folklore, devilled dances, and other traditional ceremonies and festivals. For instance Kolam-masks those are normally more colourful than the average masks being used for traditional folk theatre. Thowil-masks are being used in traditional devil dances, performed to expel the malicious influence of the demon.
There are only three varieties of woods are used for the production of masks, two varieties of sandalwood trees and Kaduru-Mangrove. Wijesooriya is a well-known family in Ambalangoda that is in the masks production right of the beginning of masks industry.
Mask museum Ambalangoda
There is only 1 museum dedicated to mask industry on the island and it is located in Amablangoda. A visit to mask museum is part of most southern Sri Lanka tour packages such as 5 days Sri Lanka southern tour and 7 days Sri Lanka cultural tour.
Today Wijesooriya mask museum is well equipped with a large number of valuable artefacts. Aripala Gurunnanse is also a key figure in the masks trade in the city, there is a demonstration in the museum of Ariyapala on the production of masks and usage of them on different occasions.
Ambalangoda is holding a reputation for traditional dancing of the island, especially the devil dancing. It is believed that devil dancing is originated from the traditional Kandy dancing. Devil dancing is mainly used in traditional rituals with the help of devilled masks. There are large numbers of reputable dances coming from Ambalangoda. In the middle of Ambalangoda, one can see a traditional school of dancing.
One of the important temples to visit in Ambalangoda Sri Lanka
Galagoda Temple which is located about five kilometres in the direction of Hikkaduwa from Ambalangoda is another well-known attraction of Ambalangoda.
This Buddhist temple accommodates the biggest reclining Buddha of the island, which is 50 meters in length. Sunandaramaya Mahavihara is another well known Buddhist temple in Ambalangoda with a long history. One can explore the attractive religious paintings in the image house. Some of the paintings of the temple show the Hindu influences, which are drawn centuries earlier. The paintings show the stories of the life of Buddha.