Colombo-the capital of Sri Lanka-is the largest city and main port of Sri Lanka. It is also the commercial and financial center of Sri Lanka. A bustling metropolis, the city is an attractive blend of old and new. It has the lazy charm of the bygone era combined with the verve and vivaciousness of a modern city. Colombo is an ideal location to start the Sri Lanka sojourn.
City Travel Guide
Originally a fort during the Portuguese and Dutch
periods but now a major commercial center of the country and housing major
offices, big hotels, some of the better shops, airline offices, banks,
main post office, immigration office, travel agents and restaurants.
Within Fort are several places of tourist interest, which can be
conveniently seen on foot.
Adjacent to Fort is Pettah-Colombo's leading bazaar
district. It has narrow cobbled streets lined with shops and street stalls
that offer the most fantastic bargains and the most unimaginable range of
goods varying from bright printed fabrics, suitings, undergarments,
children wear, footwear and handbags to electrical goods, semi precious
jewellery, watches, rare first edition books, cutlery and other household
items. Each criss-crossed lane of Pettah leads to the main street and each
has developed its own specialized characteristic. For example, household
goods are found on Keyzer Street. Prince Street is famous for glass,
mirrors and electrical items. Malwatte Avenue sells English, Sinhala and
Tamil music cassettes.
Galle Face Green:
A promenade on the sea face stretching one and a
half kilometers, it is a relic of the British era. Laid out in 1859 it was
used for horse racing. Today it is the largest open space in Colombo and a
famous picnic spot.
On the south of Fort, is a long, narrow island-where
the slaves had their night quarters-called Slave Island. Today the spot is
surrounded by the remains of the former Beira Lake and is home to many
office buildings, hotels and stores.
Mount Lavinia is a beach just 12 km from Colombo.
It was a famous beach even during the colonial times. The Governor's House
built in 1805 by Sir Thomas Maitland now forms part of the famous Mount
Kelaniya Raja Maha Vihara:
It is a famous Buddhist temple and is
believed to be at the spot where the Buddha preached 2000 years ago. It
has an excellent carving of a reclining Buddha, and is the site for an
annual perahera (religious procession) in January.
It is about 11 acres in extent and has very fine
collection of fauna from all over the world. The highlight of the show is
the elephant show, which is held every evening.
Housed in a grand colonial building, the National
Museum is the custodian of Sri Lanka's cultural heritage. Among its
exhibits are a vast collection of half a million books, more than 4000
archaic palm leaf manuscripts, rock sculptures from the ancient cities,
bronze brassware and royal weapons of Sri Lankan kings, fascinating
paintings of by gone eras and an excellent collection of antique demon
masks. The most interesting among the exhibits are the regalia of the
Kandyan Kings dating back to the 17th century.
The Viharamahadevi Park:
Located next to the National Museum, it
is Colombo's largest park. The park is famous for its flowering trees,
water channels and fountains.
It is Colombo's oldest Dutch church. Its floor
tiles are made from tombstones from the Dutch church in the Fort, and were
brought here in 1813.
There are several Hindu temples, which are called
Kovils in Colombo. In the Sea Street in Colombo are several Hindu temples,
the Ganeshan, the Old Kathiresan and the New Kathiresan with their
colourful Gopurams (doorways). Other important temples are the Shiva
Subramania Swami temple on Slave Island and the Sri Muthumariamman temple.