Ambalangoda Mask Museum

The town of Ambalangoda is an interesting stopover en route to Hikkaduwa since it is a production center for traditional Sri Lankan masks. Hand-carved and hand-painted, these masks were originally worn by performers in low-country (southern) dances, especially Kolam, an elaborate dance-drama, and Sanni Yakku, a form of devil dance.

The Ariyapala & Sons Mask Museum, in the town center, comprises two well laid out rooms that display a superb collection of masks focusing on low-country dances. In addition, photos of performers donning the masks are exhibited. The shop upstairs has masks for sale, and it is possible to see them being made in the workshop next door.

There are many other shops scattered around town that attract visitors, as the masks make for great souvenirs. However, it is advisable to assess the workmanship before buying one. It is very rare to see the dance performances for which these masks were carved, but the Bandu Wijesuriya School of Dance sometimes stages shows during the tourist season.

About 8 km (5 miles) inland from Ambalangoda, in the village of Karandeniya, the Galagoda Sailatharamaya Temple houses one of the longest reclining Buddha statues in Sri Lanka. The sculpture is all the more striking for its faded orange and red paint, which contrasts starkly with the newer statues elsewhere in the complex.

Further south, near Meetiyagoda, there are many Moonstone mines. Peer down the mine shaft to see the dirt being sieved and observe the gemstones being cut and polished outside. more