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Sammanthurai is a town of over 60,000 people in the Ampara District of the Eastern Province of Sri Lanka. It's renowned for its rice paddies and its inner harbour from ancient times - although it is now more than 4 km from the coast of the Bay of Bengal.

Sammanthurai Clock Tower



Sammanthurai is an important and historical place, and was the first place where Dutch people arrived in Sri Lanka. Sammanthurai derives its name from ‘Sampan,’ the vessel, and ‘Sammankaran’ who were Muslims from India who came to Sammanthurai during the Portuguese period.


Paddy Land Sammanthurai-01

Most people are Tamil speaking Muslims and they follow the Islamic tradition in their day-to-day life. Clothes are generally conservative but some young people are contemporary. Muslim women wear Hijab or Saree while the men wear Sarong, which could be either white or colour with typical Sri Lankan patterns. It is advisable for women, especially unaccompanied ones, to dress modestly and limit their interaction with unfamiliar local men.

  • Sammanthurai Cuisine Being a rice town, rice is the staple diet in Sammanthurai. Biriyani, vattalappam and seafood are popular in Sammanthurai. The food here gets its flavour from a host of spices and condiments used in Sri Lanka. Coconut is a must for almost all vegetarian and non-vegetarian recipes.The non-vegetarian lunch includes curries or dishes cooked with mutton, beef, chicken or fish. This cuisine is hot and spicy and provides delectable variety in chicken, mutton, beef and fish dishes.
  • Various tropical fruits are available in their seasons.


The climate of Sammanthurai is tropical. Sammanthurai has two main seasons - summer and monsoon. Weatherwise, the best time to visit is during the North East monsoon season, which is November to April. Sammanthurai summers are humid and sultry; it's better to step out with an umbrella, bottled water and some oral rehydration salts (available from pharmacies and convenient stores). These come in handy if you happen to get dehydrated.

Get in[edit]

By bus[edit]

There are several private bus services operating from Colombo to Sammanthurai and Sammanthurai to Colombo. The drive takes about 7 hours and costs around Rs.900.

By train[edit]

The train service is available from Colombo to Batticaloa, from where you can take a bus or taxi to Sammanthurai. The travelling time from Batticaloa to Sammanthurai about an hour and half or two depends on the traffic.

By plane[edit]

The local airport is in Ampara which is 18 km west of Sammanthurai. To get to Sammanthurai. Fly into Colombo the commercial capital and get a domestic flight to Ampara. From Ampara either you can take a taxi or public transportation to Sammanthurai.

There is air service to and from Colombo, provided by the national airline Sri Lankan Airlines. Flights are available from origins throughout Europe, United States, Southeast Asia, China, Japan, the Middle East, India, and Pakistan. Other airlines, include Qatar Airlines and Emirates. Colombo's international airport is at Katunayake.

Get around[edit]

  • The local "Three-Wheelers" ('Tuk-Tuk) are an amazingly cheap and exciting way of seeing the Town, and they run virtually all day long.
  • Walking is also recommended - around the Hijra junction area which is the main part of the town - as a way of seeing mosques, shops, shopping area and office buildings and you can visit the Islamic Da'wa Institute and Hijra Mosque by on foot as well but you'll have to ask for directions.

By minivan[edit]

These are private hire minivans, best if you need transportation for the whole day.


The locals get around on cycles, motorcycles and cars.


Paddy field in Sammanthurai, Ampara, Sri Lanka
  • 1 Grand Mosque Sammanthurai (by car or three wheeler from Hijra junction). 24/7. A mosque from the 17th century. Free entry.
  • 2 Rice Research Station Sammanthurai (by bus, car or three wheeler from Hijra junction). 9AM-5PM. A rice research centre. Free.
  • 3 South Eastern University of Sri Lanka (by bus, car or three wheeler from Hijra junction), fax: +94 67 2255217, . 9AM-5PM. Faculty of Applied Sciences. Free.
  • 4 Amir Ali Public Library Sammanthurai (by bus, car or three wheeler from Hijra junction). 9AM-5PM. A modern library. Free.
  • 5 Islamic Da'wa Institute and Hijra Mosque, Sammanthurai (by bus, car or three wheeler from Hijra junction). 9AM-5PM. An Islamic Da'wa Centre and a landmark building. Free.


  • Swimming, volleyball, badminton and gym exercises would be ideal in Presidential Sports Complex in Sammanthurai.
  • Hiking in the hill areas of Sammanthurai.
  • If you are a photographer, you can photograph historic, iconic religious places, hills, rivers, local markets, street vendors, landmarks and green rice paddies including rice harvesting in season.


Amana Bank, the Bank of Ceylon, Seylan Bank, People's Bank, the National Savings Bank and the Hatton National Bank all have ATMs.


  • Grand Eastern Hotel, Ampara Road, Sammanthurai. Daily 10AM–11PM. One of the finest restaurants in the town. Sri Lankan Cuisine, full of innovative dishes. Famous for Eastern Koththu rotti.
  • 1 Kadaphi Hotel, Police Road, Sammanthurai ( front of ZED office). Daily 7AM–10PM. Sammanthurai dishes, samba rice and curry, samosas. All are Halal foods. Registered hotel.
  • 2 Raheem Hotel & Bakery, Ampara Road, Sammanthurai. Daily 7AM–10PM.

Special foods of Sammanthurai:

  • Mayyokka Fries (Sammanthurai French Fries)
  • Babath curry (Side dish of Mayyokka, The cooked intestine cow)
  • Babath Fry
  • Curd
  • Sammanthrai Kothu Rotti
  • sammanthurai mutta kothu
  • sammanthurai cow leg soup
  • Par Boiled Rice
  • Samba Rice
  • Pongal (Tamils' special food) available in special functions at home and Kovil
  • Niyyath Soru (milk rice of Sammanthurai)

Traditional foods:

  • Vaarappam
  • Murukku
  • Paniyaaram
  • Idiyappam Palaharam
  • Payaththam Paniyaaram
  • Thookkachu
  • Sovi
  • Niyyath

Sammanthurai dishes:

  • Fried rice
  • Normal Samba rice & curry
  • Buriyani


Water is obtained from:

  • Well: wells are about 20 to 40 feet depth (Ground Water)
  • Pipeline supplies: it's ready to drink. it is the purified, sterilized and chlorinated tank water
  • Bottled water: available in many shops and hotels (cool and normal) too,

Other drinks

  • King Coconut

Special "Iftar food" available in Ramzan (Ramadan):

  • Nombu Kanji
  • Sarbath
  • Fruit juices
  • Fresh and cooked cow milk
  • Ceylon tea
  • Sri Lankan tea
  • Mutton soup and beef soup in "Sammanthurai Tastuk Kade"


  • Gaffoor Rest Inn, Ampara Road, Sammanthurai.


  • 1 Sammanthurai Base Hospital (Fronts the Karativu-Ampara Hwy (A31) to the North East of town), +94 67 2 260261. Government hospital.
  • 2 Medi Channel Hospital, Poomaraththadi Junction, Kalmunai Road, Sammanthurai. Private hospital.
  • 3 Royal Channelling Centre, Police Road, Sammanthurai. Private hospital.
  • 4 Medi Care, Hospital Road, Sammanthurai. Private hospital.
  • 5 Jafas Pharmacy, Hijra Junction, Sammanthurai. Pharmacy
  • 6 AMS Medical, Ampara Road, infront of Al Marjan MLC, Sammanthurai. Pharmacy



The international code for Sri Lanka +94, for Sammanthurai area code 067 + the phone number. You can make long-distance calls from one of the many booths located in the town. Airtel provides landline phones and broadband internet connection to its subscribers in Sammanthurai.

Mobile phones[edit]

Cell phone rates are pretty reasonable. There are five GSM service providers: Operators

  • Airtel
  • Dialog
  • Mobitel
  • Etisalat
  • Hutch provide their services.

and more than 5 coverage towers in here


There are several Internet cafes from where you can access the Internet for sending email or uploading your digital photos. Amir Ali Public Library has free Wi-fi zone to use Internet maintained by Sammanthurai Pradeshiya Sabah. Also there is a computer unit to access Internet.

Online news websites[edit]

* Sammanthurai 24  | | email:
* Sammanthurai News  |[dead link] | email:
* Sammanthurai Net  |[dead link] | email:
* NewsPlus |[dead link] | email:
* Makkal Nanban News | [[dead link] | email:


There are three shops where local newspapers and magazines available.

  • Thinakaran
  • Thinakural
  • Virakesari
  • Meelpaarvai
  • vidivelli

Go next[edit]

  • Arugam Bay - The bay situated on the Indian Ocean in the Ampara district of Sri Lanka. The bay is located about 73 km south of Sammanthurai. It is a popular surfing and tourist destination.
  • Lahugala National Park - The park is next to the town of Pottuvil in the Ampara district. The park is about 76 km south of Sammanthurai and is an important habitat for the Sri Lankan elephant and endemic birds of Sri Lanka.
  • Senanayaka Samuthra - The largest water tank in Sri Lanka near the Amopara town in the Ampara district.
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