Sri Lanka's capital, biggest city and major port has its supporters and detractors. Some people appreciate its cononial heritage, fine dining and shopping opportunities, and dash of urban buzz in an oveerwhelmingly rural country. Others quickly tire of the diesel fumes and different modern of building styles seen on Galle Rd, the city's main styles seen on Galler rd, the city's main artery.
Colombo is the political, economic and cultural centre of Sri Lanka, so if you need to extend your visa, or perhaps buy a plane tickets, you'll find yourself here. The city was the scene a cease-fire was declared and peace talks began.
The Fort :
Originally a fort during the Portuguese and Dutch periods but now simply the commercial center of the country and the site of most 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. The colonial buildings include the Presidential Secretariat, previously the parliament house, the Grand Oriental Hotel, built in the mid 19th century as barracks for soldiers, the Lighthouse Clock Tower which along with being.
A good landmark in Fort is the clock tower at the junction of Chatham St and janadhipathi Mawatha (once Queen St.) which was originally a lighthouse. There's also the busy port(offlimit) and the large white dagoba(Buddhist Temple) of Sambodhi Chaitiya perched about 20m off the gound on stits - a landmark for sea travellers.
National Museum : National Museum of Sri Lanka was established in 1877 during the time of the British Governor Sir William Gregory. It has a good collection of ancient royal regalia, Sinhalse artwork (sculpturs, carvings and so on), anitque furniture and china,ola manuscripts. There are fascinating 19th-century reproductions of English paintings of Sri Lanka, and an excellent collection of antique demon masks.
Galle Road : Galle Rd- the 'backbone' of Colombo - is moisy, choked woth pollution and lined with some of the city's worst architecture. Badly ageing modern building feature prominently . Hold your breath and launch in - you'll find some yummy restaurants, shopping centres brimming with goodies and, near the northern end, the Indian and British high commissions, the US embassy and the prime minister's fortified official residence, Temple Trees.
Cinnamon Gardens : Cinnamon Gardens, about 5 km south of Fort and 2km inland, is Colombo's ritziest address, full of overgrown residences and embassies. A century ago it was covered in cinnamon plantations. Today, as well as elegant tree-lined streets and the posh mansions of the wealthy and powerful, it contains the city's biggest park, several sports grounds and a cluster of museums and galleries.
Viharamahadevu Park : This is Colombo's biggest park, originally called Victoria Park but renamed in the 1950s after the mother of King Dutugemunu. It's notable for its superb flowering trees in march, April and early May. Cuttin across the middle of the park is the board Ananda Coomaraswamy Mawathy (Green Path). Colombo's white-domed old town Hall or 'white House' overlooks the park from the northeast. Working elephants sometimes spend the night in the park, happily chomping on plam branches.
Dehiwala Zoo : By the standard of the developing world, the zoo, 10km south of Fort, treats its animals well though the big cats and monkeys are still rather squalidly housed. It has its detractors, rather squalidly housed. It has its detractors, however: 'a disgraceto mankind' is how one visitor describe it. You wonder what they had have to say about zoo in Dhaka. The major attraction is the ele[hant show at 5:15pm, when elephant troops on stage in ture trunk-to-tail fashion and perform a series of feats elephantine agility. The zoo had a wide collection of other creatures, including a fine range of birds and an aquarium. There is a charge for bringing camera.
Buddhist Temples : Most of the colombo's Buddhist temples date from the late 19th-century Buddhist Revival is a place hallowed by the visit of the Buddha.The most important Buddhist centre is the Kelaniya Raja Maha Vihara is only seven miles to the north east of the Colombo and It is famous for its unique wall paintings reproduced in many tourist brochures. Vajiraramaya, in Bambalapitiya is an important and popular Buddhist temple. Gangaramaya near the Beira Lake is another beautiful temple in the City. Gothami Viharaya at Borella is famous for its wall paintings by the late George Keyt one of the foremost artists of Sri Lanka. Paramanada Purana Viharaya in Kotahena was founded in 1806 and Dipaduttamaramaya in Kotahena is the oldest Buddhist temple in the city.
Old Churches : The Garrison Church of St. Peter consecrated in 1821 is on the Church Street near Grand Oriental Hotel. The Wolfendhal Church built by the Dutch in 1757 is one of the few authentic Dutch buildings in the city. St. Lucia’s Cathedral in Kotahena is the only cathedral in Colombo and is the centre of Roman Catholicism in the country.
Hindu Temples : known as kovils in Sri Lanka, Hindu temples are numerous. On Sea Sr, the goldsmiths' street inPettah , the New Kathiresan Kovil and the ols Kathiresan Kovil, both dedicated to the war god Skanda, are the starting point for the annual hindu Vel Festival Events, when the huge vel(trident) chariot is dragged to kovils on galle Rd in Bambalapitiya. These is also a temple to Ganesh on Sea St. The Sri Kailawasanathar Swami Devasthanam, reportly the oldest Hindu temple in Colombo, has shrines to Shiva and Ganesh and is at Captain's Garden. Several other Hindu temples (Kovils) are seen in the City.
Mosques : The Grand Mosque is the most important of Colombo's many mosques. In Pettah you'll also find the decorative 1909 Jami-UI-Alfar Mosque with its candy-striped red-and white brickwork. There
Colombo is a good place to shop for handicrafts. The longest-established placeis the government-run Laksala. Here, you'll find two floors shiwcasing all manner of traditional Sri Lankan crafts, batik and wood carving. The decent prices are clearly markedso there's no need to bargain.
Hand-loomed Fabrics : Barefoot (704 Galle Rd, Kollupitiya) is very popular, especially among expats, for its brigth hand-loomed textiles fashioned into bedspreads, cushions and serviets( or you can buy material ny the metre). You'll also find irrestible soft toys, textiles-covered notebooks, lampshades and albums, and a large selection of stylish ,simple clothing downstairs. The items are quite pricey but of uniformly good quality.
Clothing : Sri Lanka is a major garment manufacturer and all manner of clothing, from beach wear to warm padded jackets, is easy to findin Colombo. Many of the items are Western styles clothes - you're able to find them in department stores all over the world - while others fortunately, you'll only find here. You'll find many clothing stores along RA de Mel Mawatha.
Gems and jewellery : There are manu gem dealers and jewellers along Galle Rd and RA de Mel Mawatha, and in Sea St, Pettah, where the sops can be on a tiny scale. The biggest outlets employ the best silver-tongued sales people in the business.
The long years of war put a dampener on Colombo's nightlife - after dark, people perferred to stay at home. This is starring to change , and a small but vigorous series of pubs and clubs are loosening up the city's young and wealthy. Colombo even has a couple of lrish pubs, segue into revelry at a dance club, and finally collapse in a heap at a casino. Most of Colombo's nightlife centres on the top hotels. All clubs have a cover charge of about Rs.500 and are open nightly. The dress code is fashion-conscious but casual. Things only really get going at about 10pm and continue through to 6am.