Ambuluwawa Tower is a landmark situated on the outskirts of Gampola Town in Sri Lanka. Famous for its magnificent panoramic views, Ambuluwawa Tower has become an essential stop for those exploring the central region of Sri Lanka. In this travel guide, we'll explore more about this fascinating architectural marvel.
Built in the early 2000s, Ambuluwawa Tower is more than just a tourist attraction. It's a symbol of Sri Lanka's commitment to fostering religious harmony and unity. The initiative for its construction was spearheaded by the Central Environmental Authority and the local government of Gampola. The aim was to create a unique space where people from different religious backgrounds could come together in a spirit of coexistence and mutual respect.
The choice of location in Gampola is significant. Gampola was once the capital of Sri Lanka during the Gampola era, which lasted from 1341–1357 AD. The area has a rich history of religious diversity, making it an apt location for a multi-religious monument like the Ambuluwawa Tower.
The project was met with broad community support and participation. Religious leaders from Buddhist, Hindu, Islamic, and Christian communities endorsed the project, further emphasizing its importance as a unifying symbol. Financial backing came not only from government funds but also from donations by local residents and international sponsors interested in promoting religious unity.
Over the years, the tower has become a subject of academic studies and a focal point during interfaith dialogues. Its establishment has encouraged other similar projects in the region, spotlighting Gampola as a model for religious tolerance and unity.
Ambuluwawa is a manifestation of Sri Lanka's rich, diverse cultural tapestry and a symbol of the island's ongoing efforts to promote peace, unity, and mutual respect among its various communities.
Details About the Tower
Ambuluwawa Tower has a height of 55.5 meters and is a multi-faceted structure with both cultural and natural significance. It is perched on top of Ambuluwawa Mountain, which has an elevation of 1,356 meters above sea level. When you reach the summit, you are rewarded with views that stretch across the central highlands and even as far as the coastline on a clear day.
The tower itself is composed of multiple levels, and each level is designed to serve as a place of worship for a different religious community. The first level is dedicated to Buddhism, the second to Hinduism, the third to Islam, and the fourth to Christianity. This multilevel design makes the tower a unique representation of Sri Lanka's diverse religious landscape.
Beyond its religious significance, Ambuluwawa Tower also serves as a biodiversity complex. The surrounding area has been reforested with a variety of native plant species, contributing to local eco-conservation efforts. Interpretive boards provide information on the flora and fauna, making it an educational experience as well.
The climb to the top is part of the attraction. A spiraling ramp leads visitors upwards, offering increasingly expansive views of the landscape below. The final portion requires climbing a set of stairs. While the climb is somewhat challenging, handrails and resting spots are provided to make it manageable for visitors of all ages.
The Ambuluwawa Tower is a tall, cone-shaped structure. The tower's unique shape allows for a series of viewing platforms at various heights, each offering its own set of remarkable vistas. One of its notable architectural features is the narrow staircase that spirals to the top. The challenge of ascending these stairs may not be suitable for those uncomfortable with heights, but it's part of what makes a visit to the tower an adventure.
The tower's location is also of architectural interest. Situated at the summit of Ambuluwawa Mountain, which rises 1,067 meters above the town of Gampola, the tower enjoys unparalleled views. This is because the mountain itself is isolated, without any nearby peaks to obstruct the line of sight. As a result, the tower can be seen from as far away as the Gampola Train Station.
Inside the tower, you'll find places of worship for four major religions practiced in Sri Lanka: Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity, and Islam. Each space has its own distinct design, reflective of its respective religious tradition. This multi-religious aspect is also echoed in the tower's architectural style, which incorporates elements from various religious architectures.
Exploring the Ambuluwawa Tower
Ambuluwawa Tower serves as an unparalleled vantage point due to its unique geographical location. Situated on the summit of Ambuluwawa Mountain, the tower rises high above the town of Gampola and offers unobstructed views in all directions. Since there are no neighboring peaks to hinder the view, this location provides an extraordinary opportunity to take in a wide range of landscapes.
From the tower's viewing platforms, one can see various prominent mountain ranges and landmarks. To the east, you can spot Piduruthalagala Mountain; to the south, the iconic Sri Pada or Adam's Peak is visible. Looking west, you will see Bible Rock, and to the north, the Knuckles Mountain Range stretches across the horizon. These platforms offer 360-degree views, encompassing forests, rivers, and towns, making it a comprehensive viewpoint.
Visibility can sometimes be affected by mist, but when it clears, the views can be breathtaking. Even though the ascent may be challenging for some, especially those uncomfortable with heights, the reward at the top is well worth the effort. For photographers, nature enthusiasts, or anyone looking to capture the beauty of Sri Lanka's diverse landscapes, Ambuluwawa Tower stands as an unrivaled viewpoint.
Prayer rooms for different religions are also available for those who wish to engage in spiritual practices. A garden surrounding the tower offers additional space for relaxation.
The Biodiversity Complex
The Ambuluwawa Biodiversity Complex is a pioneering conservation project in Sri Lanka, inaugurated in 2009. Located around the Ambuluwawa Tower, it serves as a sanctuary for many types of plant species. Designated as the fourth botanical garden in the country, it is home to approximately 200 different kinds of plants, including valuable medicinal plants.
The complex is not just rich in plant life; it also hosts a variety of animals. According to studies conducted by students from Peradeniya University, 14 types of soil have been identified in this area, providing a fertile ground for diverse flora and fauna. Rare Ayurvedic medicinal plants like Iraraja and Sadaraja are found here, as well as unique reptiles like the largest Ancatussa lizard identified in Sri Lanka.
Moreover, Ambuluwawa's unique geographical position makes it a microcosm of Sri Lanka's varying climates. The mountain and surrounding forest, known as the Ambuluwawa ICC Forest Reservation, encapsulate climatic characteristics representative of the entire country. From periodic rains to dry spells, the area experiences a three-fold climatic alignment, contributing to its rich biodiversity. Birds, lizards, and large geckos are frequently spotted, adding to the complex's ecological diversity.
The Biodiversity Complex is not just a tourist attraction but also an educational platform. Informational boards and research findings are displayed to educate visitors about the environmental importance of preserving biodiversity.
Entry Fees and Timings
Ticket Price per Person
For locals, the entrance fee is LKR 30 for children and LKR 90 for adults. For tourists, the ticket price is LKR 500 for children and LKR 1000 for adults.
Ticket Price per Vehicle
For those arriving by vehicle, different fees apply:
- Bike: LKR 50
- Three-Wheeler: LKR 50
- Car: LKR 200
- Van: LKR 200
- Bus: LKR 300
The tower is open from 7:30 AM to 5:00 PM on weekdays and from 6:00 AM to 5:00 PM on weekends.
Accessibility and Facilities
The tower is accessible by both public and private transportation. Parking spaces are available near the entrance. Basic facilities like restrooms and a small snack shop are also on site.
Location and How to Get There
Ambuluwawa Tower is located in the Gampola district of Sri Lanka. The most convenient way to get there is by car or taxi. It is approximately 120 kilometers from Colombo and 25 kilometers from Kandy.
Best Time to Visit
The best months to visit Ambuluwawa Tower are from December to April. During this period, the weather is generally clear, making it ideal for outdoor activities.
Tips and Advice
- Be Prepared for a Challenging Climb: The spiral staircase can be difficult, especially for those uncomfortable with heights. Make sure to wear sturdy shoes and be cautious.
- Check the Weather: Visibility varies depending on the weather conditions. Check the forecast before your visit to get the most out of your experience.
- Arrive Early: Weekends can get crowded. Arriving early ensures you can enjoy the views without too much interruption.
- Safety First: The top of the tower has low barriers. Be extra cautious when taking photos or leaning against railings.
- Local and Tourist Fees: Be aware that ticket prices vary for locals and tourists. Make sure to carry appropriate identification to avail of any discounts.
- Camera Gear: For photography enthusiasts, carry a lens that can capture wide-angle shots to take full advantage of the panoramic views.
- Cultural Sensitivity: The area is a multi-religious center with a Buddhist Temple, a Hindu Temple, a Church, and a Mosque. Dress and behave respectfully.
- Gampola Town: This is the closest urban area to Ambuluwawa Tower. The town offers several attractions, including ancient temples and markets.
- Royal Botanic Gardens, Peradeniya: Located about 20 kilometers from Ambuluwawa, these gardens are known for their wide collection of orchids and tropical plants.
- Kandy City: Situated approximately 25 kilometers away, Kandy is known for the Temple of the Tooth Relic, a revered Buddhist site, and the scenic Kandy Lake.
- Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage: This orphanage is about 40 kilometers from the tower and is a popular place for viewing and interacting with elephants.
- Embekke Dewalaya: Located roughly 15 kilometers from Ambuluwawa, this temple is renowned for its intricate wooden carvings and is a significant site for Hindu and Buddhist devotees.
Visiting Ambuluwawa Tower offers more than just panoramic views; it presents an opportunity to engage with Sri Lanka's diverse landscapes, cultural heritage, and religious practices. With its unique architecture and biodiversity complex, the tower stands as a compelling destination for both adventurers and peace-seekers. Whether you're a photographer, a nature lover, or someone simply looking for a fulfilling experience, Ambuluwawa Tower is a destination you should not miss.