Ape Gama is a replica of a traditional olden day village in Sri Lanka. Located in Sri Jayawardenapura, Ape Gama is a wonderfully educational place for a family visit. I found that it was not just my son, but I myself learnt a lot from our visit there.
Upon entering Ape Gama, you need to purchase your entrance tickets. Tickets are Rs. 100/- per adult and Rs. 50/- per child. Children on school trips, I believe are charged nominally. Towards the left of the entrance to the actual village, you find a Laksala Showroom from which you can buy some knickknacks on your way out.
As you enter the village, you notice all the things that a traditional olden day Sri Lankan village would have. It’s beautifully leafy. At the entrance of the village, you see a small kade (shop) along with small mud huts scattered around and foot paths from hut to hut. In some of these mud huts, there are actual people who live 24/7 to keep the feel of the village alive. As you walk past, you see them doing their day-to-day tasks – sweeping, cleaning vegetables and even talking to neighbours! It’s a pleasing and pleasant atmosphere. Even though you are right there in the city – in Colombo!! You have a very traditional village experience. Houses that do not have real inhabitants have very lifelike statues. As you walk around you get the real feel of what life in a village that cultivates and harvests paddy would be like.
You can walk freely around the village on foot paths and across little bridges made from tree stumps. The houses in Ape Gama has are sometimes labelled and you see the system or the different kinds of vocations people had in a traditional village. We saw the houses of black smiths, pottery makers as well as the Veda Gedera (medicine house/Dr’s Clinic). You can also walk into the houses and take a look. Interestingly, sometimes you see their tools of trade outside and this too is something from which kids could learn from.
Towards the end of the actual village are structures where we saw young girls and boys learning traditional Sri Lankan dance. I was told that there are dancing classes for younger children during the evening. There were also little shops or craft huts that had traditional Sri Lankan crafts for sale. These included batik, wood carving, wrought iron etc.
The map of Ape Gama also showed a Peacock & Deer Park as well as a mini-zoo. Unfortunately we were told that it was currently closed as it needed some work done due to the very heavy rains a few weeks ago.
My son and I spent about 2 hours that morning, walking and exploring what a traditional village would feel like. I must say that it was a wonderful experience. One that was utterly educational. I felt that it was very important that my son as a Sri Lankan appreciated our roots, so to say. Culturally, the experience was very enriching and it certainly was an absolutely fun thing to do that didn’t take a lot of travelling!