Aru Kaal Madam (Ambalama)

Aru Kaal Madam
Aru Kaal Madam (Photo credit: Google Street View)

The Aru Kaal Madam (lit: Six Pillar Choultry) is an Ambalama (an old wayside rest) situated in Vannarpannai in Jaffna District, Sri Lanka.

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.

The Aru Kaal Ambalama
A six-pillared shelter built on a 70 cm high platform, a well, a water tank, a few short pillars (Aavurancikal and Cumaitanki) are found at this Aru Kaal Madam premises.

Ambalamas in Jaffna have unique features
Ambalama in the Jaffna Peninsula is called Madam and it is generally different from similar structures in other parts of the country. It consists of five components given below (Ragupathy, 1987);

1) Madam: the Ambalama itself
2) Sumaithangi: a stone platform used to keep the goods carried on the head, shoulder or waist of the traveller. Traditionally, the stone is said to be erected as a symbol of prayer, vowing for the soul of a mother who dies pregnant to rest in peace.
3) Aavuranchikkal: a stone erected for the cattle to relieve themselves from an itch called Thinavu by rubbing against the stone. It was constructed by means of a single stone with a height of 3 or 4 feet.
4) Keni: a big well meant for the cattle to quench their thirst.
5) Kinaru: a well constructed to quench their thirst of both people and cattle.

1) Ragupathy, P. 1987. Early settlements in Jaffna, An archaeological survey. Published by Mrs. Thilimalar Ragupathy. Madras. p.156.

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This page was last updated on 12 March 2022
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