Ambalangoda is a coastal town located in Galle District, Southern Province of Sri Lanka. Governed by Ambalangoda Urban Council, the town is famous for its ancient devil masks and devil dancers. It is approximately 107 kilometres (66 mi) south of Colombo and is situated at an elevation of 13 metres (43 ft) above the sea level.
Ambalangoda is located on the South-West Cost of Sri Lanka between Bentota and Hikkaduwa. Still a “hidden treasure” when it comes to main stream tourism this town offers a lot when especially for families and those who want to experience the “real” Sri Lanka.
Ambalangoda is served by Sri Lanka Railways’ Coastal Line. Ambalangoda Railway Station is a major station on the line, and is connected to the major cities Colombo and Galle by rail. It is served by the A2 highway, which runs through the town. Kurundugahahetekma entrance of the E01 expressway is 13 kilometres (8.1 mi) from Ambalangoda and it takes about 45 minutes to travel via the Southern Expressway from Ambalangoda to Kottawa, a suburb of Colombo.
The town is renowned for the manufacture of wooden masks and puppets. The traditional masks are carved from light Balsa like Kaduru wood (Nux vomica). Kaduru trees grow in the marshy lands bordering paddy fields. The wood is smoke dried for a week in preparation. The hand carved and hand painted masks in traditional dance dramas are both vibrant and colorful. 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. The Naga Raksha (Cobra demon) mask of the ‘Raksha Kolama’ (demon dance), consists of a ferocious face with bulging, popping & staring eyes, a bloodthirsty carnivorous tongue lolling out of wide mouth armoured and armed to the hilt with set of fanglike teeth, all topped by a set of cobra hoods.
Ambalangoda offers many ECO and adventure experiences ranging from turtle hatcheries to guided nature tours and scenic lake safaris.
There are some very experienced operators blending natural show trails with environmental friendly concepts and by preserving natural skills.