Picked up from your hotel in Galle and its surrounded early morning or late afternoon, taking the direction of Ambalangoda (40KM around 1hr drive) unique town which has an ancient tradition of mask making. For several centuries, a few families from this town had carefully crafted the different masks required to maintain specific aspects of Sri Lankan culture. The masks were an integral part of religious rituals, spiritual ceremonies, traditional plays, local dance forms, puppeteering, and general aesthetic expression. The use of these masks has, however, reduced in recent times along with the wane in influence of their associated cultural traditions. Still, a few loyal, gifted artisans keep playing their trade, and Janaka is one such person.
You will enter his workshop which is built into his very home which immediately takes you to another time; a different place. It is a labyrinth of Feerie masks, intense colour, and traditional pieces of art. Worldly interpretations of otherworldly artistic thoughts, they are. This is where you will first encounter ‘The Mask Man’. Janaka humbly reveals the nature of his work and life to you while offering a few light refreshments, before setting off to experience the daily sights and sounds that have shaped him. First, he takes you to an ancient Buddhist temple close to the heart of the town of Ambalangoda. A primary reason for the significance of the Sunandarama Temple is the bell tower it houses, which is known to be the largest in Sri Lanka. Also found here are several paintings dating back to the 18th century, with immense archaeological and historic value to, both, the region and the country. He briefly introduces a few fundamental Buddhist concepts: a deep reverence for the Buddha, the essence of his teaching, and the symbolic value of the Bo tree. A different temple, where the largest reclining Buddha statue (35m) rests is also swiftly visited. A short distance from the temple is an aesthetic treat; a few houses dedicated entirely to the art of mask carving. As with Janaka’s, their workshops too are set within their own homes. There is little separation between the craft they have honed for decades and their daily lives. Their stories, experiences and feelings, therefore, find their way into the detailed carvings on these masks. In every sense of the term, it is a family-run cottage industry. A quick moke ride away and Janaka immerses you in a vastly different artistic tradition. Batik — a cloth dyeing technique originating from Java, Indonesia and first introduced locally by the Sri Lankan Malays — is an important part of the cultural fabric of Sri Lanka. A small batik dyeing facility and the many processes involved are shown. Operated by several local ladies, they run their households with the additional income generated from this enterprise. Next, Janaka takes you to a functional coconut oil refinery. The ancient method of deriving coconut oil by applying immense pressure on the coconut flesh, using a millstone system, is employed here. The large stone wheel is kept in motion by a cow. Coconut oil is widely consumed in these parts as cooking oil, hair oil, and for its medicinal properties in the Ayurvedic tradition. This niche, alternate experience culminates with a return trip to The Mask Man’s workshop. A relaxed glimpse of the various mediums (canvas, plates, wooden pallets, etc.) that he employs to make traditional paintings is offered at this point. You can savour a fabulous meal prepared by his wife, within their own home. You will then get back on the road back to your property at Galle and its surrounded.
INCLUDED / EXCLUDED
What is Included?
Return land transfers from Galle, your host, guided tour of Ambalangoda, a sarong to use whilst at the temple, transport, tea, and a king coconut, tailor-made to end with a lunch (only for Morning Departure)
What is Excluded?
Alcoholic & non alcoholic Drinks
What to Bring?
Mosquito repellent, sunscreen, change of clothes, comfortable walking shoes or sleepers. Camera to capture all of the sights, Some extra cash if you want to purchase souvenirs, Hat, Sunscreen
Daily based on a minimum booking of 2 pax per departure. Single supplement applies for solo travellers.