Blogs - Mount Havana

Faith, Flora and Fauna: A Celebration of Diversity at Ambuluwawa

Opened to the public in 2009, Ambuluwawa is the first multi-religious sanctuary and biodiversity complex in Sri Lanka. Located at a height of 3560 metres above sea level in the historic town of Gampola, the premises houses a Buddhist temple, Hindu Kovil, Muslim mosque and Christian church in an overt celebration of Sri Lanka’s religious diversity. It also hosts a biodiversity park within which grows a fascinating range of plants – from the endemic, to the unusual and beautiful.

The most prominent feature of Ambuluwawa is the tall tower that is shaped like a giant Buddhist stupa. The external staircase that winds its way around the tower offers the most breathtaking views. Although narrow, it is an easy enough climb. That said, this is not for the fainthearted, especially those who are afraid of heights, for the structure rises to an impressive 48 metres above the Ambuluwawa complex. If you are comfortable being at a very high elevation, then you must give this a go. Every step is a visual feast, presenting some of the most picturesque sights you will witness in the island.

Ambuluwawa Rock is surrounded on all sides by other renowned mountains: Piduruthalagala from the East, Bible Rock from the West, Sri Pada (Adam’s Peak) from the South and Knuckles Mountain Range from the North. Beyond these there are a number of other mountains visible as well, most notably Hanthanna and Hunnasgiri mountain ranges. Not only do these enhance the aesthetics of the location, they also provide the added benefit of cool breezes that blow in the direction of Ambuluwawa.

You don’t necessarily have to ascend the stupa-like tower to enjoy the beauty of the surroundings. There is an observation deck at the summit of Ambuluwawa which provides the most wondrous 360 degree views of the lush, green mountains and thriving, dense forests.

The Ambuluwawa biodiversity complex has its own range of things to see. There are water and stone parks, as well as herb gardens that you can wander through. You can take a brief pause by the twin ponds. If you are quiet enough you could even spot deer grazing and relaxing. There are over 200 different plants from 80 plant families growing on the mountain. These include medicinal plants like Iramusu, Muva Kiriya, and Nawa Handi. The stately Bo tree bears spiritual significance, as it was grown from a sapling of the sacred Sri Maha Bodhi in Anuradhapura.

Ambuluwawa Rock held a position of prominence in the 14th century during the Gampola era. It is believed that King Buwanekabahu IV, the founder of the Gampola kingdom whose short reign spanned from 1341 to 1345, designated Ambuluwawa Rock as the centre of the kingdom. Despite this distinction, no historical or spiritual artefacts from that time period have been discovered.

It is a short 5km drive from Gampola town to the entrance of the Ambuluwawa complex. There is a distance of about 2.5km from the ticketing counter to the summit and this can be traversed by foot or by vehicle. It is an undoubtedly scenic route, but the road is steep. The walk can be challenging and so should be avoided by the elderly and young children. As there is a car park at the entrance you also have the option of leaving your car and taking a tuk tuk. However you decide to get there, you will be mesmerised by the beauty you see all around you.

Other Blogs