Tasteful blend of tradition and modernity

By Damitha Hemachandra and Asma Edris (Daily Mirror)

Ambalama, a cosy hideout close to Avissawella, is full of surprises inside. The interior is a blend of tradition, nature and comfort.

As you enter the Ambalama one of the first sights is the deck situated just below the dining area overlooking the whole of the Ambalama premises including the natural swamp it is situated on. Reach over and you can pick a bunch of ‘madan’ growing on a tree near the deck. You can almost touch the ‘battichchas’ sitting and chirping near you.

The children’s playground is called the “kamatha”. Unlike the kamatha of the days of yore which made the villege children a good playground when it was not being used for harvesting, this modern kamatha comprises of toys and play items for children, made out of logs.

The bar of the Ambalama or the “Inguru Wadiya” is quite a place to experience. With cement “thachchies” for lamp shades and wine barrels as tables, each table is named after an old town. The gallery of the bar is made out of wood. Clay pots, which were once used to hang on the coconut trees for toddy, now hang on the roof of the Inguru Wadiya. The mood is all set for relaxing and the theme is governed by the old tradition of toddy drinking.

The conference hall of the Ambalama is known as the “Attapattu Maduwa”. Attapattu Maduwa was the name of the waiting room of an ancient Sinhala palace. The commoners who once arrived to visit the king with their gifts and complaints were made to wait in the Attapattu Maduwa until the meeting. Today the Attapattu Maduwa marks the entrance to the Ambalama instead of a palace. “Kammala”, “Kumbalgeya” and “Wadumaduwa” are the three cabanas of the Ambalama. The Kammala is made mostly out of iron and steel. Its beds and cupboard as well as its lampshades are cleverly designed to remind one of the steady hands of a Sri Lankan blacksmith. The theme colours of the Kammala are black and red, which creates an atmosphere of fire, soot and iron. The window frames, the bed and the cupboard have the same design. A most innovative aspect of the Kammala is the lampshade, which is made out of a kerosene lamp. The electricity bulb is cleverly hidden inside the kerosene lamp, a combination of tradition and modernity.

The Wadumaduwa blends with the theme of carpentry. With most of its furniture made out of wood, including the steps, Wadumaduwa is in the middle of the swamp. Situated far from all the other cabanas, it is an ideal hideout. The bed, the cupboard and chairs are made out of wood while the walls are of clay. The colours are soothing shades of green, orange and blue, adding a touch of greenery and wood.

The Kumbalgeya represents the house of the clay worker. Most of its items are made of clay. The most characteristic aspect is the bathroom with the shower disguised as a waterfall. Just move the curtains away to have a bath closer to nature.

The Ambalama is a successful blend of the past and the present. The creator of the first Ambalama could never have imagined that his humble theme would one day become a modernised restaurant, a hideout in the future.