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Embekke Ambalama

Embekke Ambalama

Embekke Ambalama is an old wayside rest in the village of Embekke in Kandy District, Sri Lanka. It is built on a flat rock plain located in a paddy field called Vijayandeniya near the famous shrine, Embekke Devalaya.


Ambalamas are traditional resting places built by locals to accommodate wayfarers who were travelling to distant places. They were also used as a place for people to gather, hold meetings and serve as a public place in society. During the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, Ambalamas were spread all over the country.

Embekke Ambalama

The history of Embekke Ambalama runs back to the Period of Gampola and it is said to have been established before the construction of Embekke Devalaya (Gunasekara, 2017; Godakumbura, 2011; Seneviratna, 1983). It had been constructed during the reign of King Bhuvanekabahu IV (1341-1351 A.D.) to serve as a resting place for the people who engaged in the construction of Gadaladeniya and Lankatilaka Vihara (Abeywardana, 2004; Gamage, 2018). However, due to the closer similarities in the carvings of both Ambalama and the Embekke Devalaya, these two establishments are believed to belong to the same era (Rajapakse, 2016). An inscription found near the Ambalama indicates the date 1953 B.E. [(1409 A.D.) Gunasekara, 2017]. Later, the Ambalama was used as a resting place for the pilgrims who came from Gampola to visit Lankathilaka Viharaya (Rajapakse, 2016).

The Structure

The building which has been built on a platform of about 8.3 m (27 ft.) long and 6.7 m (22 ft.) wide consists of 16 carved stone pillars (Abeywardana, 2004; Gunasekara, 2017). The pillars are about 7 ft. in height and contain stone carvings such as twin swans, the face of lions, the trunk of elephants, etc. (Abeywardana, 2004; Gunasekara, 2017). These carvings are similar to those engraved on the wooden pillars in Embekke Devalaya (Godakumbura, 2011).

Presently, the stone pillars of the old Ambalama building remain at the site (Gamage, 2018). Four pillars have been added to the structure newly by the Cultural Department during a recent conservation process (Gunasekara, 2017).

A Protected Monument

The Embekke Dewale together with the building complex of the same era Gale Ambalama situated in the Grama Niladhari Division of Embekke in the Divisional Secretary’s Division of Udunuwara are archaeological protected monuments, declared by a government gazette notification published on 23 January 2009.

Stone carvings of Embekke Ambalama Stone carvings of Embekke Ambalama Stone carvings of Embekke Ambalama Stone carvings of Embekke Ambalama


1) Abeywardana, H.A.P., 2004. Heritage of Kandurata: Major natural, cultural and historic sites. Colombo: The Central Bank of Sri Lanka.  p.78.
2) Gamage, L. S., 2018. The Dwelling of the War God: the Art and Architecture of Embekke Devāle in Medieval and Early Modern Sri Lanka (Doctoral dissertation, University of California, Los Angeles). pp.16-17.
3) Godakumbura, C. E., 2011. Embekke (Chapter seven). International Scientific Committee: Wood. ICOMOS International Committee on Wood. pp. 52-53.
4) Gunasekara, P., 2017. ඇම්බැක්කේ නටඹුන් වූ ගල් අම්බලම (In Sinhala). Sarathi. Department of Cultural Affairs: Central Province. ISSN: 22792414. pp.55-68.
5) Rajapakse, S., 2016. Pauranika Sthana Ha Smaraka: Mahanuwara Distrikkaya (In Sinhala). Archaeological Department of Sri Lanka. ISBN:955-9159-34-8. pp. 57-58.
6) Seneviratna, A, 1983. Kandy: An Illustrated Survey of Ancient Monuments, with Historical, Archaeological, and Literary Descriptions Including Maps of the City and Its Suburbs. Central Cultural Fund. Ministry of Cultural Affairs. pp.127-128.
7) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. No: 1586. 23 January 2009. p. 109.

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This page was last updated on 5 May 2023

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