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Ambalangoda

Ambalangoda is a place of adventure and discovery rather than relaxation and luxury. It possesses a long stretch of 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 colorful catamarans and fishing boats representing the main livelihood of Ambalangoda. 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 satirical 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 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.

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At Balapitiya, five kilometers north of Ambalangoda, you can take a boat trip up the Madu Ganga (river). This shallow body of water, its estuary, islets and its connection to Randombe Lake through two channels, make up the complex coastal ecosystem of the Madu Ganga Wetlands that was declared a Ramsar Site in 2003. Possibly the last remaining area of pristine mangrove forest in Sri Lanka, it is home to 303 species of plants and 248 vertebrate animals including many bird species. There are around 65 little islands that you will pass on your float upstream, inhabitants of which produce peeled cinnamon and cinnamon oil. On one of the islands is the Kodawa Vihara, which is a 150-year old temple where five monks live in meditation. There are plans to develop a sustainable eco-tourism program within the wetlands and educate villagers as it is already threatened by human activities and large-scale fishing operations. You can go with the Madu Boat Service or arrange a tour with your hotel.

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