Old Dutch Stables in Ambalangoda

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While traveling from Colombo to Ambalangoda, the road takes an “L” shaped bend before Dharmashoka Vidyalaya. If you go straight without turning this bend, you will enter Ambalangoda Main Street. Travelling 1 km along the narrow High Street, you can see a bare land covered with thorns and bushes in the sea side. This is the grounds of Ambamlangoda Rest House which is now abandoned.

This ancient Rest House was operating even at the beginning of this century, but later it was closed and the building where the inn was housed was completely demolished in 2008. It is alleged that this valuable building, which has been built during the Dutch era, was demolished by a plan of the chairman of the Southern Provincial Ruhunu Tourism Bureau together with the Southern Provincial Council. The valuable wooden doors, door posts, beams and furniture of this building have been removed by this chairman. After the councilors of d Ambalangoda Municipal Council questioned in this regard in the monthly meetings, the said person has credited a small sum of LKR 75,000 to the municipal account according to official records.

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It is said that the Ambalangoda police station has been informed about the demolition of these buildings without the knowledge of the former mayor of Ambalangoda or any municipal councilor, but due to political pressure, no action has been taken so far.

After about 2 years in to the above crisis, then Ambalangoda Municipal Council Chairman has leased this land to a private company to build a tourist hotel. But since this agreement has not been tabled in city council meetings, its validity has been challenged. Under this situation, today this land is covered with bushes and has become a parking area for lories for the businessmen of that area.

During the colonial era of Sri Lanka, Ambalangoda and surrounding areas were populated by large lush cinnamon plantations. Dutch administrators obtained a monopoly on the cinnamon industry, and high officials who regularly visited Ambalangoda, then known as Cinnamon City, to inspect cinnamon processing and packaging, had used this Rest House built on a small hillock adjoing the sea.

Fortunately, another building which has been the horse stable of the Rest House on the side of this land still remains today. The Department of Archeology has named it as an archaeologically important place and has placed an archeological board there.

Journal of the Ceylon Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society – Volume XV published in 1899 mentions the plaque in this building. It is mentioned in the plaque

GEBOUWD DOOR
ADRIAAN OOST
DYCK ONDERK
EN OPS DER GA
LE CORLA 1750.

This means “Built by Adriaan Oostdyck, Onderkoopman and Superintendent of the Galle Corle, 1750”.

Again in 1913 “List of inscriptions on tombstones and monuments in Ceylon – of historical or local interest, with an obituary of persons” published by J. Penry Lewis commemorated) mentions this building.

According to him, this building adjacent to the Ambalangoda Rest House is a common sight for those traveling from Colombo to Galle. This building, which looks like a warehouse and a stable at that time, was built by the Dutch as a rural church. This oblong building takes the same form as other small churches built by the Dutch. The church is built on pillars with short walls all around.

During the Dutch rule, prayers were often held here in Sinhala language and sometimes the priests who came from Galle to study in the missionary school have conducted prayers in Dutch language.

Adriaan Oostdyck mentioned in the memorial held a high position in the Dutch East India Company’s cinnamon trade. The position held when this building was built was second only to the Chief Controller of Galle. He often had to go to Ambalangoda Kosgoda and Bentota areas for work. Often he had to stay in these areas for days. Penry Lewis says that the Ambalangoda Rest House may have been his temporary residence during those times.

In the ground of this church, there were several gravestone inscriptions of some other important people of that time. But later, the ground level was raised with a layer of plaster and these tombstones are buried under the ground, he says.

This building has been used as a village council court during the British period and later it was also used as a court building.

References

  • de Vos, F., 1899. MONUMENTAL REMAINS OF THE DUTCH EAST INDIA COMPANY IN CEYLON. Journal of the Ceylon Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, XV, p.272.
  • Lewis, J., 1913. List Of Inscriptions On Tombstones And Monuments In Ceylon, Of Historical Or Local Interest. 1st ed. Colombo: H.C Cottle, Government Printer, p.204.
  • Kaviratne, W., 2015. Bulldozed…. And Now Abandoned. [online] Archives.sundayobserver.lk. Available at: <https://archives.sundayobserver.lk/2015/06/28/fea11.asp> [Accessed 21 June 2020].
  • ඤාණදාස, ආ., 2016. ම්බලන්ගොඩ නගරය මැද දිරන ලන්දේසී ගොඩනැඟිල්ල. [online] dinamina.lk. Available at: <http://www.dinamina.lk/2016/11/30/26125> [Accessed 21 June 2020].

Also See

Map of Old Dutch Stables in Ambalangoda

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Traveling Directions to Old Dutch Stables in Ambalangoda

From Colombo to Old Dutch Stables in Ambalangoda
Via : Southern Express Way
Total distance : 110 km
Duration: About 2-2½ hours
Driving Directions : View on Google Maps

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