Overview of Dambana
One of the lesser known areas in Sri Lanka, Dambana is a quiet village located in the scenic Badulla district. Most proximate to the city of Mahiyangana, it draws its significance from the fact that it is home to the indigenous Vedda community and their accompanying language and culture. The area is also known for its promising eco-tourism prospects, given that Dambana is predominantly a jungle village. Tourists visiting the area can immerse themselves into the lifestyle and activities of the Vedda people, who engage with visitors who venture into the confines of their fiercely guarded way of life.
Located approximately 300 kilometres away from the country’s commercial and urban hotspot, Colombo, Dambana is a perfect pitstop for a glimpse into the lives of the ancient Vedda tribe. Once a powerful and voluminous community, it has now shrunk to a couple hundred Veddas or more, who nonetheless form an important part of Sri Lanka’s historical and cultural heritage. Said to preserve a direct line of descent from the island’s original Neolithic inhabitants as far back as 18,000 BC, the jungle village of Dambana is their primary place of refuge. The village is perfect for a quick visit, or a few days stay, given its proximity to a number of popular tourists locations within the breathtaking Badulla district, also home to a number of historical and ecological treasures.
Upon your arrival here you will be able to visit the Dambana Museum, where you can catch a glimpse of the Vedda culture, through displayed carvings, paintings and various instruments used by this historic community over the years. Certain companies organise quick excursions into the village, where you can meet the Vedda Chief, who needs to grant you approval to participate in certain tribal rituals, as well as to observe life in the community. Once this is obtained, you are free to participate in the everyday activities and lives of the Veddas. The tribe gathers most of its food by hunting, and consume all kinds of meat including rabbit, lizards, venison etc. Some of the hunters will even enact and explain the ways in which they attack their prey. They also set traps, such as the ‘Habaka’ to catch small animals, which once again will be demonstrated to you, should you foray into their secluded village.
You can also catch them making their traditional hunting weapons of bow and arrow, with the use of natural material and perform traditional Vedda dances, including the Kirkoraha dance and the like. Bonus? You might just be able to learn the steps of this dance, which they will teach you through a thorough step by step process.
Dambana is a real life throwback to the ancient lifestyle and customs of long-existing indigenous people; do not miss out on an opportunity to experience history in the flesh, by visiting the Vedda village.
Keen to know more about Dambana and how to spend a day with the Vedda community? Get in touch with us for more information! While you do that, check out some of the other places to visit and things to do on your sun-soaked holiday in Sri Lanka.