Colombo with all its hustle and bustle is a wonderful place for kids to grow up in. Through the recent years, looking for things to do with your kids in Colombo isn’t that difficult. New establishments and places for kids to be entertained are galore! Ape Gama is one of those places in Colombo and I for one am quite thankful that such places exist in Colombo!
Ape Gama is a beautiful reproduction of a traditional olden day village in Sri Lanka right in the heart of Colombo. This means we are now able to let our children experience olden day village culture without having to travel very far. I’m not entirely sure if such villages exist anymore, what with all the modernisation!
Entrance tickets are priced at Rs. 100/- per adult and Rs. 50/- per child, they might however be subject to change and children visiting during school trips are charged nominally. There are different parts to Ape Gama – the actually replication of the village, a Laksala Showroom near the entrance, a mini zoo (which thankfully was undergoing repairs during our visit – I’m anti Zoos… so…), an area in which traditional dancing classes are held and an area where traditional craftsmen are allowed to sell their stuff. This is also, very thoughtfully, bottles of mineral water for sale right at the entrance, so if you’ve forgotten to take some water, this would be the place to buy it. I did see a small shop towards the end of the village area that sold fizzy drinks and water too.
As you enter the village, you’ll first notice how accurately village life is depicted, there were chickens/roosters walking past and a small kade (small shop) right near the entrance. There are all the things that a traditional olden day Sri Lankan village would have. Though it’s literally so close to the main roads of Battaramula, you’ll notice it’s beautifully leafy and wonderfully village like. In the village are also mud-huts scattered around with real villagers living there day-to-day, 24/7. As we walked past, we saw them doing their day-to-day tasks – sweeping, cleaning vegetables and even chatting to neighbours! It’s a pleasing and pleasant atmosphere. Even though you are right there in the city – in Colombo!! Some houses didn’t have real inhabitants but had real lifelike statues. There are small pathways for you to walk along as well as well as little ‘traditional’ bridges made from tree trunks which you can walk over! Prepare to wait while your little ones cross this couple of times!!
All most all the houses in Ape Gama are labelled and you see the system or the different kinds of vocations people had in a traditional village. We saw the houses of blacksmiths, pottery makers as well as the Veda Gedera (medicine house/Dr’s Clinic). The blacksmith’s house for example wasn’t inhabited, so we could actually go inside it and I was really happy to see traditional equipment including a stove like device which was relatively large that traditional blacksmiths used to melt the metal.
There was also the area where the paddy is stored after the harvest and nearby a tree house where people in the village climbed onto to guard the paddy during the night from potential elephant & wild animal attacks. It’s securely built and your kids can climb up to it if they wished too.
There aren’t any official guides to this place, though you can ask the inhabitants for details at anytime. The village headmen (beetle chewing with fully grown hair and all!) greeted us as we entered and gave us a full tour of the place in Sinhala. If you don’t know Sinhala, best to travel with someone who does, who can translate for you. If you like to, at the end of the ‘informal tour’, you can give him something small for the effort. This is by no means anything official or part of Ape Gama establishment just something small such as Rs.200/- would do!
I mentioned earlier that towards the end, there’s an area where traditional dance classes are held for boys and girls, I was told that there are dancing classes for younger children during the evening and weekends too.
Our trip lasted about 2 hours that morning. It was an absolute entertaining and educational experience. If you are from Sri Lanka or just visiting, this is a wonderful way to fully understand, experience and appreciate traditional olden day village culture.
Here are some additional tips:
- Rainy days are probably not a good idea to visit Ape Gama!
- Make sure you carry a bottle of water or at least purchase one at the entrance, you will need it! Bottles at the entrance are priced at the normal retail rate, so that’s nice!
- Get your little ones (and yourself) to wear mosquito repellent. Though I didn’t see swarms of mosquitoes, there’s a bit of marshy land nearby which made me feel this was necessary!
- There were boards at the entrance that said that taking pictures of the actual village was not allowed. Upon inquiring, I was told that you can’t take pictures with a camera (as in proper equipment) and you could from the phone IF you had a Mobitel connection. That was confusing because I asked them how they would know what connection I am using, at which point they got a bit vague. So, mentioning this as additional information!
Other additional details –
Address: “Ape Gama”, Battaramulla, Sri Lanka. Contact Number – +94 11 2 177 417
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