Colombo – Sri Lanka

Population: 1 m;

Area Code: (+94) 1;
Time Zone: GMT +5fi;
Climate: Tropical;
Monsoon rain (Apr-Jun);
Average Temperature: 22-32C /72-88F;
Katunayake International Airport (CMB): 30 km/19 miles;

In many respects, Sri Lanka’s maritime capital likes to cultivate its low profile. Admittedly, there are now gleaming white high-rises overshadowing the neoclassic portico of the mellow brownstone parliament building at the heart of the Fort area; nonetheless, this miniature metropolis seems largely content to retain its portion of the power, whilst allowing its more extrovert forerunners – Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Kandy and co. – the lion’s share of the glory on the tourist trail. Even the creation of the new administrative capital of Sri Jayawardhanapura down the road has not detracted from Colombo’s supremacy as the hub of the island’s commercial, financial and industrial activity – as undisputed since independence as it was under the trinity of colonial powers. Apart from the mixture of Portuguese-Dutch-British memorabilia and Oriental charm provides variety enough to enliven exploratory forays. The leafy surroundings of the patrician villas in Cinnamon Gardens recall the days when the fragrant spice was a coveted export, whilst the sea breezes and the lively port – one of the most important on the Indian Ocean – waft the aura of faraway places across the esplanade along Galle Face Green.

The Sights and Attractions:

Galle Face Green – Sea views and the historic auberge. The Galle Face Green is a promenade which stretches for half kilometre along the coast in the heart of financial and business district of Colombo, Sri Lanka. Originally cleared for the line of cannons during the Dutch rule, it's among the most frequented areas in Colombo.

Galle Face Green, Colombo

The Galle Face Green is a 5 hectare ribbon strip of land between Galle Road and Indian Ocean which is now the largest open space in Colombo. This is a popular destination for children, vendors, teenagers, lovers, merrymakers and all those who want to indulge in their favorite pastimes next to the sea under the open sky. An ideal spot for lovers who hide from gazing crowds and the sun behind umbrellas, a playground for children with roadside vendors selling brightly coloured balloons, kites, toys, soft drinks and ices, an arena for professional to debate issues of the day and a popular hangout for teenagers.

The Fort - Lighthouse Clock Tower (1857)
The fort had its glory during dutch and Portuguese periods but now it is a commercial center of the country with all the big hotels, offices, banks and restaurants. 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 and quite attract the tourists here. 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.

World Market and Pettah – street bazaars.
Pettah, Colombo’s major bazaar is crammed with vendors, selling everything, you can think of – and each street has its own specialty. In an area of 24 blocks, thousands of tiny shops sell anything imaginable and some very unimaginable. Even if you don't buy anything, Pettah, or Colombo 11 is an experience in itself being a very typical, loud and crowded oriental market place full of all sorts of odds, ends and junk. You have to bargain extensively and it is recommended that you take a local you trust along with you. Walking through Pettah is rewarding any tourist to Colombo should not miss the opportunity to visit Pettah, with a local guide.

Colombo National Museum - is the oldest museum of Sri Lanka with all its antique collections, gives an idea of the cultural heritage of Sri Lanka, established in 1877. The museum contains: more than 4.000 palm leaf manuscripts; ancient and medieval jewelry; rare collection of traditional masks; wood and ivory carvings; temple frescoes; ceramics objects including VOC plates of the Dutch period; stone sculpture and lithic inscriptions. The museum is open daily from 09.00 hrs to 17.00 hrs except on Fridays.

Dutch Period Museum - This colonial mansion dates back to the 17th century. Formerly the residence of Count August Carl Van Ranzow, it has now been restored as a museum of the Dutch occupation. Focusing on the home life of the colonialists, the exhibits include furniture and ceramics, and give a good idea of the lives of the Dutch at the time.

Colombo National Zoo - is situated in the far south of Colombo (11 km from the Fort Clock Tower) in the suburb of Dehiwalla. It has a beautiful collection of fauna. The aquarium here has 500 species of aquatic life. An aviary, a nocturnal house,a butterfly park are too hard to miss. If is not enough, the elephant show in the evenings surely wins the hearts. Open from 8 AM to 6 PM.

Cinnamon Gardens – formerly a cinnamon growing area, but now the most fashionable neighborhood in Colombo. Cinnamon Gardens is made up of wide boulevards, filled with elegant mansions, trendy bars, shops and restaurants. In the middle of Cinnamon Gardens is Viharamahdevi Park, the city's largest open space and most elegant and attractive green space. The park is at its prettiest from March to may, before the Monsoon arrives, when its brilliant flower. In the centre of the Park a statue od Queen Victoria comemmorates her rule over the island, while on the lawns near the Town Hall a golden image of the Buddha represents an even older heritage.

- Budha Jayanti – landmark dagoha.
- Dipaduttaramaya – oldest Buddhist temple in Colombo 13, built in 1806.
- Wolvendaal Kerk (1757).
- St. Lucia’s Cathedral (1906).


Mount Lavinia - A quiet sandy beach (arguably the best and most popular) only 13km (8 miles) from the heart of the city. On the beach there are little bathing huts which can be hired for the day. To get there, drive south along Galle Road from Colombo Fort and turn right to Hotel Road half a mile past the Mount Lavinia cemetery. The focal point of Mount Lavinia is the Mount Lavinia Hotel, though there are others like the Mount Royal Beach Hotel which was built in the 1970s.

Negombo – colonial charm and the nearest beach. Negombo is a characteristic fishing town north of Colombo, approximately 30 km north of the capital Colombo. Located at the mouth of the Negombo Lagoon the town has a small port and its economy is based on tourism and fishing, though it also produces ceramics and brass ware.
It has fine sandy beaches and diving and windsurfing gear can easily be hired. Set amid lush groves of coconut palms, it breathes the spirit of the sea. Negombo is a gourmet's paradise with sea food in plenty.

- Kelaniya Raja Maha Vihara (11km/7 miles) – temple with frescoes.
- Yala and Wasgamuwa Wildlife Parks.
- Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage.
- Kandy.

- Cricket.
- Golf at the Nuwara Eliya and Royal Colombo Golf Clubs.

Annual Events:
- Duruthu (Jan) – at Kelaniya temple.
- Navan Perahera (Feb) – street parades.
- Sinhala Avurudy (Apr) – New Year.
- Wesak (May) – pilgrimages and illuminations.
- Poson (Jun) – advent of Buddhism, in Anuradhapura and Mihintale.
- Kataragama (Jul/Aug) – pilgrimages and self-mortification.
- Divali (Oct)
- Christmas (25 Dec)

* Sri Lanka
* Colombo - The Sights and Attractions
- Where to Stay and Hangout
* Kandy

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