Aru Kaal Madam (Six Pillar Choultry) on Manipay Road in Jaffna (යාපනය ආරු කාල් අම්බලම)

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In 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 opted to leave their villages for Pilgrimages or to visit their friends and relatives who stayed in 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 weary travellers to rest or spend the night. This practice continued until the end of the British Colonial era in mid mid-20th century.  Most Ambalama buildings which you see today have been built during or after the 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 maintain a unique model to suit life in this arid land.

The Madam in this area is generally a collection of several structures with specific features.

  1. The Ambalama itself – The resting place for the people
  2. Goods store (Sumai Thaangi / Cumaitanki) – a platform of about 3 feet high. This is used to keep the goods carried on the head or shoulders of the traveller and to load them back without the 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 an 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 traveller to bathe. The well was constructed in such a way that people could walk down to reach the water during dry seasons when the water level is low.

The Six Pillar Choultry (Aru Kaal Madam in Tamil) is one such structure on the Manipay Road in Jaffna. Not much historical information is available on this structure. This Madam is built on a 70cm high platform with six pillars holding the roof open from all sides. The other components of this building lie left to this structure. A deep well and a water tank for the cattle can be seen. Next to the well lies a well-used stone pillar for cattle to scratch themselves.

Unfortunately, all these structures seem to have been renovated without giving due attention to their antiquity. The Ambalama, well and the Tank have been freshly restored with cement.

To reach the Madam, take the Manipay road from the Jaffna Bus Stand. The site lies just by the road 3.2 km from the stand.

Also See

Map of Aru Kaal Madam (Six Pillar Choultry -Ambalama)

Please click on the button below to load the Dynamic Google Map (ගූගල් සිතියම් පහලින්)

The map above also shows other places of interest within a approximately 20 km radius of the current site. Click on any of the markers and the info box to take you to information of these sites

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Driving Directions to Aru Kaal Madam (Six Pillar Choultry -Ambalama)

Jaffna can be reached through 2 directions. The first one is over the Elephant Pass which is the normal route to Jaffna. The other entrance is from Pooneryn over the newly built Sangupiddi Bridge. This road connects to Mannar.

Route 01 from Colombo to Jaffna (Through Kurunegala)Route 02 from Colombo to Jaffna (Through Puttalam)
Through : Kurunegala – Dambulla – Anuradhapura – Vavuniya
Distance : 400 km
Travel Time : 7-8 hours
Driving Directions : see on Google map
Through : Puttalam – Anuradhapura – Vavuniya
Distance : 400 km
Travel Time : 7-8 hours
Driving Directions : see on Google maps
Route from Jaffna Town to Aru Kaal Madam (Six Pillar Choultry -Ambalama)
Via : Manipay road
Distance : 3.5 km
Travel time : 15 mins
Driving directions : see on google map


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