The Ambuluwawa Tower is one of the most unique places to visit in Sri Lanka! It’s located in the Ambuluwawa Diversity Complex, which is the country’s first multi-religious centre. You’ll find a Buddhist Stupa, a Christian Church, a Hindu Kovil and a Muslim Mosque here.
It’s an easy half-day trip from Kandy, and if you’re an adventure lover, then climbing this tower is something you must add to your Sri Lanka itinerary. The tower looks somewhat like one of Gaudi’s creations. What makes it so special is that the higher you climb, the narrower the spiralling staircase gets.
The Ambuluwawa Tower stands on top of a mountain and it’s 48 m (157.4 ft) high, so it’s not a place for those who are afraid of heights! If you do climb this tower, however, you’ll be rewarded with a magnificent 360° view over the surroundings.
This guide will help you plan your visit to this unique complex. It features everything you need to know to do so, including how to get there, the ticket prices and some useful tips.
How to climb Ambuluwawa Tower in Gampola, Sri Lanka
Ambuluwawa Biodiversity Complex: A Little History
The Ambuluwawa complex was built on a mountain near the town of Gampola in 2009. It was an initiative of D.M. Jayaratne, Sri Lanka’s former prime minister, who was born in the Gampola area.
With its Buddhist Stupa, Hindu Kovil, Christian Church and Muslim Mosque, the Ambuluwawa Biodiversity Complex is a place where people of all four beliefs come together to practice their religion. It’s visited by people from all around the world, and the complex has become a symbol of harmony and unity between the religions.
The mountain on which the tower stands was discovered by King Buvanekabahu IV in the 14th century. It’s famous for its biodiversity containing approximately 200 different types of plants.
Climbing Ambuluwawa Tower
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Starting from the main entrance, it’s not a hard climb to reach the top of the tower and it doesn’t take too long either. I went up slowly because I took lots of pictures and videos. Without photo stops, I think you could get up there in 10 to 15 minutes.
The staircase that reaches the first few floors is inside the tower, and this part doesn’t look so nice. When I was there, there were some construction works going on though, so it may look prettier in the future. After a bit of climbing, you’ll reach the first viewing platform, and from this point on, it gets more and more beautiful.
After the viewing platform, the staircase will make its way outside, which is where the fun begins! The higher you get, the more narrow the staircase will get, which is quite an experience. At some points, it even gets so narrow that it’s impossible to cross people who are heading in the opposite direction than you. However, there are a few small rooms inside the tower that you can enter in order to let people pass.
If you’re afraid of heights, it’s from this point on that it might get a bit more difficult to push through. But the views at the top are worth it though!
I was carrying a backpack on my back and got a little stuck a few times. At some of the narrowest spots, the tower’s walls tilt outward, so you’ll need to lean in the direction of the staircase in order to pass.
The views on the way up are spectacular! Once you make it to the top, you’ll be rewarded with a 360° view over the surrounding mountains. On a clear day, you can see as far as the hills of Nuwara Eliya, which is located 50 km (31 mi) further. It feels quite surreal to stand there, I felt like I entered a world created by Tim Burton.
Other things to see at the Ambuluwawa Complex
You’ll find a small Hindu Kovil, Muslim Mosque and Christian Church next to the Ambuluwawa Tower. This is the only place in Sri Lanka with temples of these four religions in one place.
There’s also a smaller tower (you can see it in the picture above) that you can climb. It’s worth doing so, as it offers a beautiful view over the Ambuluwawa Tower.
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You’ll find a viewing platform behind the tower and, on a clear day, it offers a magnificent view over the surrounding area. As most people only come to visit the Ambuluwawa tower, chances are you’ll have this place entirely to yourself!
How to get to Ambuluwawa Tower
In order to get to the Ambuluwawa Complex, you’ll need to go to Gampola first. This town is located 25 km (15.5 mi) from Kandy or 127 km (78.9 mi) from Colombo.
- Bus: Gampola is a 1-hour bus drive from Kandy.
- Train: There’s also a train from Kandy to Gampola, but I was told it takes longer than the bus.
- Private transportation: The fastest way to get to Ambuluwawa Tower is by taking private transportation, but this is also the most expensive way.
If you’re visiting Ambuluwawa Tower from Colombo, I recommend making a few stops in between, as it’s a long journey and there are many beautiful places to visit on the way to Gampola.
- Bus: You can either take the local bus or the A/C bus from Colombo or Kandy. These take approximately 4 hours. Once you’re in Kandy, you can take the train or bus to Gampola.
- Train: First, you’ll have to take the bus from Colombo to Kandy (approximately 3 to 4 hours), and then the bus or train from Kandy to Gampola.
- Private transportation: This is the most comfortable and fastest way to get from Colombo to the Ambuluwawa Tower, but it will also be quite expensive.
Once you’ve arrived in Gampola, you will have to either take a tuk-tuk or walk to the tower.
Although I did see some people walking, it’s a 6.1-km (3.8 mi) hike with an ascend of 576 m (1889 ft). It’s true that it is doable, but the hike to places like Little Adam’s Peak or Ella Rock is more beautiful, so I opted for the tuk-tuk drive. I asked my driver to drop me off at the entrance of the tower (which is 2.5 km (1.5 mi) further than the ticket office), wait for me, and then bring me back to the Gampola bus station.
I paid too much (LKR 2000) for the tuk-tuk ride, but considering that I was visiting Sri Lanka during a horrible economical crisis with gas shortages, I was okay with paying a bit more.
Best time to visit
Although the Ambuluwawa Tower can be visited all year round, the best time to visit it is during the dry season, between November and early April.
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I do recommend visiting the complex early in the morning, as soon as the gates open (8:30 am). It won’t only be much cooler then, but you will also avoid crowds. I was practically the only one there when I arrived around 8:50, but it started getting more and more crowded when I left the tower at 10 am.
Tourists have to pay an entrance fee of 500 SLR and an additional fee of 100 SLR if they’re taking the tuk-tuk to the entrance of the complex.
Ticket prices are cheaper for locals, I believe they’re around 50 SLR, but I’m not sure. Feel free to let me know in the comments if you know the local price, and then I will add it to this guide.
Tips for visiting Ambuluwawa Tower
- Bring enough water.
- Don’t forget to visit the temples and the viewing platform as well.
- Visit Ambuluwawa Tower early in the morning to avoid crowds (the complex opens at 8:30 am).
- If you’re taking the tuk-tuk, ask your driver to drop you off at the entrance of the tower, not at the ticket office, which is 2.5 km (1.5 mi) from the entrance.
Ambuluwawa Tower in Gampola, Sri Lanka – Final thoughts
This is one of the most special places I’ve visited so far! Ambuluwawa Tower is a unique place that should definitely be on your adventurous bucket list if you’re going to Sri Lanka. It ended up being one of my favourite places in the country, and one I would love to visit again.
I don’t think it was scary to climb the tower, but I can imagine it’s an experience those who are afraid of heights would find quite terrifying, though!
It took me around 1,5 hours to visit the tower, the religious sites, the smaller tower and the viewing platform. I did fly my drone and took many pictures, so I think you could easily visit it in 45 minutes to 1 hour if you’re in a hurry.
Read more about Sri Lanka:– Hiking to Little Adam’s Peak in Ella: Everything You Need to Know- 6 Places to Visit on the East Coast of Sri Lanka – 12 Best Things to Do in Arugam Bay- Boat Safari in Gal Oya National Park: A Complete Guide
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