Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Appallagoda Ambalama

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The magnificent wonders, that our island of paradise holds are beyond the comprehension of even the minds of Sri Lankans. Sri Lanka in its true meaning is an island of paradise, which boasts of every form of art known to man. Among these, indigenous Architecture reign supreme.

In the early periods of Lankan history Ambalamas were used as traditional resting places. Though now in pitiful state remnants of their former glory cannot be hidden from a wandering eye.

Appallagoda Ambalama is situated in a rural environment in the village known as Appallagoda which lies 6 km from Kandy town and the nearest town being marassana, which is 1 km away.

The Appallagoda Ambalama, which was built in 1922 is known to be the largest stone made Ambalama in Kandy. It has a floor area of approximately 80 square meters and it measures 5.6 meters from floor to pinnacle. The roof is supported by two sets of stone columns, 12 externally and 4 internally. Inside, around the ambalama there are seats made out of stone. Especially in an area such as Kandy, cast differences play a vital role in the management of society. This is depicted by the level change seen in the seating area. at the top of the roof thee is a brass pinnacle which symbolizes the architectural pattern of that period. A prominent feature of this Ambalama is the stone “pinthäliya” which is situated in front of the Ambalama. Another prominent feature is the two broken stone columns in the north-eastern side of the Ambalama. The villagers in the area say that this was done deliberately when the Ambalama was built in order to ward off inauspicious omens.

Appallagoda ambalama was built in 1922 when Sri Lanka was still under British rule. The villagers say that the structure was built in order to house traveling trade parties, which were apparently abundant in this era. Although there aren’t any written documentation on this ambalama (maybe due to the fact that ,it is a fairly recent addition to the list of ambalamas in SriLanka) the village folk say that the ambalama was built under the orders of the “arrachchi” with the help of the villagers themselves. An interesting folktale revolves around the four names engraved in the four internal stone columns. It is said that these four names belonged to some “thugs” who were from the southern part of the island, apparently they had come to kandy with interests in commercial activity and settled down there. They had used their “thuggish powers” and engraved their names in the ambalama. Thus, those names of times by gone still remain unhampered by the winds of change.

Appallagoda ambalama is a colossal structure, which exhibits the power and glory of Sri Lankan Architecture. Though it may not be one of the oldest ambalamas in Sri Lanka it too has faced its share of our islands history and we think that it is our duty to help conserve these treasures of early Sri lankan architecture so that they may be appreciated by not only architects but by all of humanity.