Miles to go before I sleep


A few weeks back, while traveling to Kandy I passed the now-reconstructed Kadugannawa ambalama (wayside rest) that stood against the thickets of the Kadugannawa hill. The sight reminded me of the last were from the famous poem ‘Stopping by the woods’ by Robert Frost…

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,   
But I have promises to keep,   
And miles to go before I sleep,   
And miles to go before I sleep.
The Kadugannawa ambalama  is the only wayside rest on the Kandy – Colombo route and I wondered if it was truly the only one on that treacherous uphill climb, or if there were others that didn’t make it to present times…
‘Ambalama’ s were meant for the traveler on foot to take rest from his journeying, and these journeys might have lasted days, requiring them to spend nights in these wayside rests. But it amazes me how there simple structures which usually take the form of  a roof atop a few strong pillars could provide shelter against the cols winds of the night, mosquitoes and even rain for that matter.
(The Kadugannawa ambalama actually seems to be the only one with walls.)
But of one thing I can be sure, that these ambalamas without doubt

images (1)signify the lifestyle of the early Ceylonese traveler… The stamina they would have had to accomplish the feat of traveling in the early days, the eye for design & architecture manifested by the hand calved intricate designs that decorate the roofs and pillars and the sheer minimalism of the construction, mirroring the simplicity of their needs… It seems all they wanted was “A roof above their heads” literally!

Here’re a  few photos of the other ambalams around the country, under which the weary traveler still finds rest
I could go on about how much these amaze me, but blogs aren’t menat to be long essays so allow me to sum-up my feelings as follows:
තුති මේ සෙවන මට දුන් ඒ සහනයට
මග ගිම් නිවා මට දුන් ඒ නව පණට
එනමුදු කල් නැත මට මෙහි තව ඉන්න
යාමට දුරක් ඇත තව අඹු-දරු වෙතට
යාමට දුරක් ඇත තව නිදි ගන්න පෙර
(Putting myself in the shoes  soles of my ancestors)
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