Santhaiyaar Madam (Ambalama) in Manipay, Jaffna – යාපනය මනිපේ සාන්තයියාර් මඩම (අම්බලම)

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Santhaiyaar Madam (Ambalama) in Manipay, Jaffna

Santhaiyaar Madam (Ambalama) in Manipay, Jaffna

As you travel from Manipay towards Vaddukoddai on the Kokkuvil –  Vaddukoddai  road, after about 3.3 km you will come across a large paddy field spreading across both sides of the road. Just at the far edge of this field, you will pass a ancient Ambalama built according to the ancient Jaffna tradition.

In the ancient times, when there were no proper roadways or transport facilities other than narrow footpaths through dense jungles. Infested with wild animals and for transport only bullock carts were available, the villagers very seldom opt to leave their villages for Pilgrimages or to visit their friends and relatives who stayed in other areas other than merchants who made a living carrying goods from village to village.

During these days, kings and nobles built temporary resting places along popular routes for the weary travelers to rest or spend the night. This practice continued until the end of British Colonial era in mid 20th century.  Most Ambalama buildings which you see today have been built during or after Kandyan kingdom and special effort had been put in building these structures to make them artistic and elegant in most cases.

The Ambalama buildings in Jaffna (called Madam) are quite different to the Ambalam in other areas and maintained a unique model to suit the life in this arid land.

The Madam in this area are a generally a collection of number of structures with specific features.

  1. The Ambalama itself – The resting place for the people
  2. Goods store (Cumaitanki) – a platform of a about 3 feet high. This is used to keep the goods carried on the head or shoulders of the traveler and to load them back without a help of another person.
  3. Stone Pillar (Avurancikal) – A stone circular pillar erected close to the Ambalama. This is about 3-4 feet high and used for the cattle to relieve themselves from a itch called Thinavu by rubbing their bodies against the pillar.
  4. Tank (keni)  – Keni is a pond filled with water for the cattle to quench their thirst.
  5. Well (Kinaru) – This is a well for the traveler to bath. The well constructed in such a way that people could walk down to reach the water during dry seasons where the water level is low.

The most significant item at this site is the ancient pond which is built with the coral stone. The pond is about 12 meters long and slants towards the bottom of the tank from the side of the road. Steps has been built for easy access to the water when the water levels are low. Behind the tank lies a dilapidated building which would have been the Ambalama (madam).

Unfortunately these structures have not seen any restoration attempt for a long time.

Also See

Map of Santhaiyaar Madam (Ambalama) in Manipay


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Driving Directions to Santhaiyaar Madam (Ambalama) in Manipay

Route from Jaffna Town to Santhaiyaar Madam (Ambalama) in Manipay

Via : Kokkuvil –  Vaddukoddai  road
Distance : 8 km
Travel time : 20 mins
Driving directions : see on google map

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Posted in Ambalama (wayside rest), Heritage