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The Most Insane Temple in Sri Lanka

The Ambuluwawa Tower, located outside of Kandy, Sri Lanka is one of the most unique architectural structures for any temple. It’s a popular place for locals to visit but less common for foreign tourists.

About the Tower

Ambuluwawa is a biodiversity complex situated on the top of Ambuluwawa Peak, a 3567-foot mountain located outside of Gampola in central Sri Lanka.

The creation of the tower dates back to the 13th century under King Buwanekabahu IV. It’s Sri Lanka’s first multi-religious temple which takes architectural influence from Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, and Christian religions.

Climbing the Tower

The tower consists of three distinct sections, the platform, the base, and the spiral top. A set of stairs will take you up to the flat square platform offering good views without even climbing the tower.

To continue further up, enter the doorway into the base and up the large spiral stairs. This will take you up about four floors to the observation deck. At this level you can get 360-degree views and walk freely around the tower. To go any further, you should be in fit shape, have no fear of heights, and not be claustrophobic.

The staircase going up is slow moving as it starts to spiral around the narrow tower point. The tower is likely to have other visitors moving above and below you in both directions which makes for getting to the top a logistical difficulty, rather yet basically a nightmare.

Many of the staircase sections are barely wide enough to fit an in-shape person through alone, let alone another person trying to pass in the opposite direction. This will cause some moving forward and backwards to reposition and a lot of tight squeezing as you hang your body over the railing of the stairs, hundreds of feet up. This is one adventure for the strong minded individual.

The top of the tower is similar to that of a fire tower that has the deck closed and you can’t get into the top. The spiral staircase comes to a stop and the top is gated off. This is where the traffic jams become the worst and most difficult to maneuver.

If you’re content with the level you make it to, there is nothing but difficulty that lays ahead when a line has formed. Either way, you’ll have incredible views the entire time you’re up there and that should be the main goal.

Exploring the Complex

The temple complex has a few sections you can explore before or after your tower climb. The backside of the temple has gardens to roam, while the front of the temple adjacent to the mountain road has a smaller temple to climb, a garden with turtles, and is where monkeys congregate to take food from visitors.

This smaller tower is less frightening but still requires some physical ability and to reach the top a ladder and tight squeeze. The views here aren’t as vast but are absolutely worth checking out for the great view of the Ambuluwawa Tower.

Getting There

Ambuluwawa is located near the town of Gampola which is a little over an hour drive south of Kandy.

Kandy is a popular town for foreign tourists who are travelling from Ella up to Dambulla which makes this usually within the line of sight for many coming to Sri Lanka.

Even if you’re taking the train from Ella to Kandy this should be an easy enough side trip worth half the day. When I climbed the tower, I was able to even take a rickshaw both ways and up the steep climb of the Ambuluwawa Mountain making the transportation affordable.

This was one of the only places that I didn’t see any other foreign tourists.

It’s become more popular in recent years but is still far enough off the beaten path that it will feel less touristy. I think a big reason is people don’t have the time to fit in the half-day or longer trip out to only see this temple but I thought that made it all that much more worth it! Hope you get to checking it out!


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Photography exclusively by Dan Oliver unless otherwise stated and cited. Embedded maps are provided by Embed Google Map ( and map images shown are provided as stated and cited.


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