AMBALANGODA
 
  If you are travelling towards Galle, you will happen to be in a town where you will see mostly fearsome looking masks on display at shops lining the road. Ambalangoda is famous for carving of masks used in exorcism ceremonies, puppetry and several other forms of dance-drama. Ambalangoda is a place of adventure and discovery than rest and luxury. It has a long wild beach you can explore all to yourself, and this gives you a feeling of seclusion hard to find on this coast.

Ambalangoda is a large, bustling market town with stalls selling anything from fresh fish to fruit and vegetables. You should visit Ambalangoda for its beach, its location, and for its history of mask carving and dance. The sandy beach is a good distance from the main road and is packed with colourful catamarans and fishing boats representing the main livelihood of its masses. It is great for exploring and witnessing Sri Lankan daily life.

Ambalangoda is most well-known for mask making and as a centre for south coast traditional dancing. Masks are created for three different types of dancing rituals: kolam, which tell mocking stories of traditional Sri Lankan colonial life, sanni, or devil dancing masks, used in a type of exorcism ceremony to heal people of persisting illnesses believed to be inflicted by demons, and Raksha masks, which are used in festivals and processions. Ambalangoda is also known for hand-woven cotton, finely carved wooden doors, and screens and lintels. Branching out of town, there are some interesting excursions you can take.
 
Seven kilometres inland from the main road north of town is south Asia’s longest sleeping Buddha (35m), located at the Sailatalaramaya Vihara.

At Balapitiya, five kilometres north of Ambalangoda, you can also take a boat trip up the Madu Ganga (river). So if you have time on your way down or up the west coast you should try to spend a few nights in this charming coastal town.
 
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