Weird and Wonderful Ambuluwawa Biodiversity Complex
The town of Gampola situated in the Central Province has a unique landmark, visible from kilometers away. One’s curiosity is immediately aroused for this tower structure atop a mountain is somewhat fantastical (think ‘Lord of the Rings’) in its appearance.
This is the Ambuluwawa Biodiversity Complex situated at approximately 3560 meters above sea level (599 meters from the level of Gampola town). The tower itself is approximately 48 meters high and sits within a protected forest area. It was built in 2009 by a former (now deceased) Prime Minister, D. M. Jayaratne.
A 2003 study of the Ambuluwawa mountain area undertaken by the University of Sri Jayawadenepura revealed the existence of 126 species, of which 29 were endemic species of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and butterflies. The flora is equally rich here with an estimated 200 varieties of vegetation from 80 plant families. This is one aspect of the biodiversity on offer.
It’s possible to drive all the way up, though hiking up is part of the recreational value and there are many rest points and picnic huts on the way.
Once at the peak you find an assortment of religious structures representing Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam set among landscaped gardens with ponds. This site’s design reflects the ethno-religious diversity of Sri Lanka. There are plenty of photo opportunities everywhere, including the donkey who acts as a lawn mower!
The 360 degree views of Gampola town below and the hills and mountains further afield are of course spectacular. Many of the island’s best known mountains including Bible Rock, Piduruthalagala Sri Pada (Adam’s Peak) Knuckles Range, Hanthana and Hunnasgiri are clearly visible from this vantage point.
For the young and fit, a climb to the very summit of the spiral tower on an extremely narrow and winding staircase will be the highlight. The narrowness of the staircase can sometimes result in traffic jams as people try to climb up as others are descending. All part of the fun! Very often this uppermost portion of the tower is shrouded in mist.
The entrance fee is very reasonable – Rs 300 for foreigners and Rs 50 for locals – and all in all it makes for a lovely outing.