Colombo

Sri lanka’s commercial capital is an in treating blend of the varying influences, it has seen for more than 600 years. Its importance as trading port increased after the arrival of the Portuguese To the island in the early 16th century.

It continued to grow under the Dutch and British, and today shows the marked influence of all those Cultures from the Islamic mosques, the catholic, Dutch reformed and Anglican churches. The dutch Colonial style of architecture is very much in evidence, as are the special quarters for separate trades in the Colombo fort and pettah area.

While the fort gets its name from the former military garrison which was located here under the Dutch and British, it is still the location of janadipathi mandiraya, the president’s house. On its fringe is the beautiful sandstone building which houses the presidential secretariat and the Government secretariat, formally the parliament, almost a replica of Whitehall in England.

Galle face green, the mile long promenade which borders the fort on the south, is the largest open Air stretch in the city and is lively centre for relaxation in the evening, with the backdrop of a Beautiful sunset.

Around it are the main city hotels, from the galle face hotel which was established in 1864, the Inter – continental which is the first modern five – star facility, the Colombo Marriott and the taj Samudra. Nearby are the Colombo Hilton, the hotel trans asia and the holiday inn.

Colombo fort still has great interest for shoppers with the many old shops which specialise in gems, Silks, curios, old stamps and excellent leather goods. The grand oriental hotel, by the Colombo Harbour, gives one of the best views of the harbour while lunching or dining at the harbour room, Ones the special pub and restrount of captains of ships that called over at Colombo.

The pettah which was earlier on the outer fringr of the forth, is still the busiest shopping bazaar in the city. Its many crisscrossing roads mark out sections which specializes in varous trades from textiles and sarees, spices and condiments, goldsmiths and jewelers, wholesale dealers in rice, sugar, lentils and chillies. one of these streets-gabo’s lane, still  specializes in the trade in ayurvedicherbal medicines, which is the traditional from of medicine in sri lanka.

In recent years the shopping areas in colombo have stretched southwards along gall road and R.A. de mel mawatha (duplication road) down through kollupitiya, bambalapitiya, wellawatta and Havelock town.

There are many Buddhist temples in the city which depict the art and statuary styles of the Buddhist revival in the 19th century.

vajiraramaya at bambalapitiya and raja maha viharaya at bellanwila, dehiwala (are famous as centres of Buddhist learning) gotami viharaya, borella (modern mural paintings by internationally famed artist George keyt, dipaduttaramaya, colombo 13. (oldest Buddhist temple in the city, builtin 1806) and paramananda purana viharaya, colombo 13 (also built in 1806) asokaramaya and issipatana- ramaya at thimbirigasyaya (with beautiful mural paintings), Buddhist cultural centre at nadimala, dehiwala (famous for the rare collection of books published on Buddhism nationally & internationally) karagampitiya temple at dehiwala (with Buddha statues with saphires for eyes and frescoes) are few of the many Buddhist institutions in the city.

Bauddhaloka Buddha image (avukana) facing the bandaranaika memorial international conference hall stands a beautifully excueted statue of the Buddha in the standing posture. The elbow in the abhaya mudra with left hand holding the folds of the robe. The statue is 36 feet tall and is the largest Buddha statue in the city of colombo. It is a replica of the avukana statue on the banks of the kalawawe Anuradhapura.

in addition to the above other places to visit in a typical tour of colombo would include all,or some of these locations.thewolvendhal church(built by dutch in 1757) st.anthony’s church and st.lucia’s cathedral, new kathiresan kovil (largest hindu kovil in the city) national museum (built in 1877, is a treasure trove of articles depicting sri lanka’s historical and cultural past and present incluing regalia of the last king). Town hall (built with architectural similarity to many state capital buildings in america) independence memorial hall (in the style of medieval kandyan audience hall) BMICH (1971 octagonal shaped conference hall with modern facilities – main hall could accommodate 1500 persons. Viharamahadevi park (for lush green and large flowering trees) and the sunset at galle face green.

In the immediate suburbs of the city are two very  important visitor attractions. One is the kelaniya raja maha viharaya, (a very important Buddhist temple in the north  east of the city, and one of the 3 places in sri lanka where load Buddha visited, has very fascinating wall and cailing paintings by famous artist solius mendis). Its site dates to the very early days of the Sinhalese Buddhist civilization in sri lanka.

South of the city, at dehiwala is the national zoological gardens, which is one of the largest zoological gardens in south east asia, which has a very large collection of animals, birds and reptile species from the world over. Every evening the elephants at the zoo give a very entertaining performance of light -footed dancing and many other endearing tricks.

Dehiwala, new polonnaruwa rock temple

Just 100 metres from the national zoological gardens, dehiwala is a very interestion Buddhist temple which has a beautiful sculpture, an exact replica of the galvihara complex, polonnaruva.

It brings to life one of the most evocative Buddhist sculptures found in sri lanka or anywhere else. The standing, seated and sleeping Buddha, made to the dimensions of the original sculptures are depicted in a 26, / 56, cave in a natural setting.