Godamunna Ambalama

Godamunna Ambalama
Godamunna Ambalama (Photo credit: Google Street View)

Godamunna Ambalama (Sinhala: ගොඩමුන්න අම්බලම) is an old wayside rest situated in Godamunna village in Kandy District, Sri Lanka. The Godamunna Elle Oya Ambalama built in 1930 is located near this Ambalama.

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 Ambalama at Godamunna is believed to have been constructed during the Kandyan Period (Rajapakse, 2016). The wooden pillars of the Hanguranketha Palace that were destroyed by fire during the Dutch attack in the 17th century are said to have been used for the construction of the Ambalama (Abeyawardana, 2004; Dasanayaka, 2018; Seneviratna, 1983). Folklore reveals that the Tooth Relic of the Buddha was kept at this Ambalama for a while when it was secretly moved from Kandy to Hanguranketha due to security reasons (Abeyawardana, 2004; Dasanayaka, 2018; Rajapakse, 2016). As per sources, the Tooth Relic has been moved to Hanguraketha two times (Dasanayaka, 2018). In 1803, the Tooth Relic was brought to Kithulpe Viharaya in Hanguranketha when the British troops attacked Kandy (Dasanayaka, 2018). It was again moved to Hanguranketha during the Great Rebellion of 1818 (Dasanayaka, 2018).

During the Great Rebellion of 1817-1818, the British who camped at Godamunna used this Ambalama as a cattle slaughterhouse (Dasanayaka, 2018; Rajapakse, 2016). It is said that some of the carvings of this Ambalama were destroyed when trying to remove the blood absorbed on the wooden pillars (Dasanayaka, 2018). The structure was conserved in 1970 by the Department of Archaeology (Rajapakse, 2016).

The structure
The square-shaped Godamunna Ambalama is reared on wooden pillars rising on the grid of massive beams (Seneviratna, 1983). Each of these beams measures 1.85 m in circumference (Abeyawardana, 2004). The pillars and the roof have been replaced and repaired later. The Marassana Ambalama situated in close proximity is very much similar in appearance to the Godamunna Ambalama (Abeyawardana, 2004).

A protected monument
The Godamunna Ambalama (Maha 302 lot number 1: consisting of 0 acres, 0 roods, 2.7 perches) situated in Godamunna village in the Divisional Secretary’s Division, Pathahewaheta is an archaeological reserve, declared by a government Gazette notification published on 17 December 1971.

1) Abeyawardana, H.A.P., 2004. Heritage of Kandurata: Major natural, cultural and historic sites. Colombo: The Central Bank of Sri Lanka. p.58-59.
2) Dasanayaka, R., 2018. Ambalama saha samajaya (In Sinhala). S. Godage & Brothers.  pp.55-59.
3) Rajapakse, S., 2016. Pauranika Sthana Ha Smaraka: Mahanuwara Distrikkaya (In Sinhala). Archaeological Department of Sri Lanka. ISBN:955-9159-34-8. pp.115-116.
4) 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. p.135.
5) The Gazette notification. no: 14989. 17 December 1971.

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This page was last updated on 12 October 2023
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