A day in Colombo, Sri Lanka

I was in Colombo for a days visit before heading off to explore other places in Sri Lanka. Actually ended up having just half a day to enjoy the city and so did the city tour “Glimpses of Colombo” and got a bird’s eye view of the city. Details of this towards the end of the blog. However if you do have enough time to spend in Colombo the below 6 are sights worth exploring. A sort of walking tour.

I was pretty impressed with the city itself, a well planned and well maintained city with it’s paved footpaths, zebra crossings having manual switches to force the stop signal, minimal littering, even the vegetables and fruit market was so clean and at least in the main city area people follow traffic rules strictly both on foot as well in vehicles. So if not anything just walk down the roads and you will for sure appreciate the city. It was like they took the “Swatch Bharat” idea a long time back implemented it and have demonstrated that it is very much possible with a little planning and effort.

Gangaramaya temple : I would start here.  The temple is situated near the Biera lake and is a cluster of blue roofed structures. The photo below is not very impressive as I was only able to capture it as the city tour bus just passed by the temple entrance but even that small glimpse was enough for me add it to my list here.

Around 500mts walk is the park.

Viharamahadevi Park : Walk through the park or sit down on one of the seats and relax.  There’s an impressive Buddha statue at the entrance of the park. Proceed onto the National Museum, about 900mts.On the way on your right you should see the Public Library and further up the Tennis Asociation.

National Museum : This is the largest museum in Sri Lanka and as you read up on the information it houses a large collection of art, carvings and statues of ancient Sri Lanka noticeable being the throne and crown of the Kandyan monarchs.

About 900mts from here is the Independence Square, you will actually reach the back of the Memorial hall. Enroute is the Cricket Club on the left and on the right the Archives Documentation Library.
Independence Square : The square along with the Memorial hall was built to commemorate the Independence of Sri Lanka from British rule in 1948. At the head of the square is the impressive statue of the first Prime minister.

If you are hungry by now The Gallery Cafe on Alfred Ave is a nice place to relax and have lunch. It’s about 3kms from the square towards Galle Road and a “fine dining” cafe however the food is great and the atmosphere is really relaxing. I treated myself to their black pork curry which was yummy.

Colombo Fort :
There is no evidence of a fort here, more so the area is the commercial hub of Colombo with many financial buildings, government offices, market area and five star hotels. Walking down the lanes you will be treated to a mix of  glassed modern structures to Dutch and Victorian style buildings.

I would start from The Kingsbury hotel. Opposite to it is the Bank of Ceylon tower. Lighthouse Clock tower, Dutch Hospital currently a shopping complex, towers of World Trade Center. Walking towards York street you should see quite a few old buildings, Nationla Trust Bank, Cargills Ceylon,  Grand Oriental Hotel walking all the way to  Sri Lanka Ports Authority. The side roads also have some beautiful buildings. You can walk back to Dutch Hospital relax and enjoy a cup of coffee at any of the restaurant here  or head on to the Pettah market sampling some street food and tea/coffee from the various small restuarants/ bakeries around.

Lighthouse Clock Tower
Dutch Hospital now a shopping complex
World Trade Center opposite to the Dutch hospital

Galle Face Green : If it’s almost time for the sunset head over to the Gallery Face beach, you can either sit down at the entrance or head down to the sea. Enjoy the sunset.Your day in Colombo has come to an end … The night is still to begin as Colombo is well-known for nightlife too.

City Tour details : During the weekdays they have the “Glimpses of  Colombo” tour which starts at 3:30 and ends around 6pm, startingthe point being The Kingsbury hotel. They do pick up from some city hotels so do check out.  The only place you can get off the bus is at Independence Square, so grab a seat on the open air seating area on top so that you can attempt shots of the various buildings the guide points out as you traverse through the city. We did cover quite a lot of buildings, the ones which still stands out in mind apart from those mentioned above  being the Nelam Pokun theater, Town hall, BMICH where the SAARC summit was hosted etc. A bit pricy being 25USD however if you are short on time this is a good option.

Some more shots from my gallery

A Victorian building as we passed by currently having a bakery shop in it
Nelam Pokun Theater

Many such old houses to be seen as we drove aroundBandaranaike Memorial International Conference HallAukana Buddha Statue opposite the BMICH

Hope you enjoyed the post.

Visited February 2017


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