The National Seminary (Ampitiya).

If you’re around Kandy, you might want to stop by the National Seminary in Ampitiya – a beautiful expanse of old buildings and wild trees, and home to young would-be priests.

Location

Ampitiya is only a few kilometers away from Kandy. The seminary is inconspicuously tucked away down a lane in Ampitiya Road. The lane is easy to miss among all the little shops and small restaurants down this road – if you reach the Ampitiya School or the Kandy City Hostel then you’ve gone too far. Once you reach the end of the long lane, you are met with the tall silver statue of Our Lady Of Lanka and a few other Catholic figures.

The seminary is a well-kept space of even grass and trees, a chapel and a building for the priests. There’s also an estate of wild forest at the back that you can wander through, with unexpected stone benches and statues amidst the trees.

A ‘meditation chamber’ at the bottom of the chapel

The seminary isn’t exactly a public heritage site – so it helps to talk to the people at the counter of the new building next to the chapel before wandering around. Since it is a religious space, and that too a rather secluded one, don’t take too much of a crowd with you and maintain some decorum.

The forest

Pass the buildings and walk around them to the back – and you’ll see a marble white statue of Christ seemingly gesturing to the glorious green trees around him. Keep walking and you’ll come across a few geese and other birds inside a large mesh cage, and then some stone steps that take you down a pathway through the woods.

This moss-covered stone statue of Christ lying on a rock and looking to the heavens, in the middle of the forest area, was particularly striking. The forest space is for the priests, so wandering through here is technically not allowed, although you might be able to just take a quick look if nobody’s around to stop you.

The view

Most of the pathway is flanked by towering green on both sides – but suddenly there is a clearing, through which you get an amazing view of Kandy hills, the Mahaweli Ganga and all the little houses, churches and temples in the city. There are a few purposefully planted benches here to sit on and enjoy the view. Keep going straight past this point further down the pathway and you’ll arrive full-circle where you began.

Conclusion

A sign we found in the forest

The Ampitiya seminary is a beautiful, little known place to visit if you’re in or around Kandy. The meticulous lawn out in front next to the ancient brickwork of the chapel are fascinating to behold; the wild green round the back is an idyllic space to wander through by yourself, or with a few friends, and enjoy some peace and quiet away from the city center.

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