My dear travelers, today is the perfect time to delight you with new travelogues in the “Travel Letters” section that you have all loved during the 7 years of the Mr.M blog. The past 2 years have been very difficult and uncertain for many industries, but one of the industries that lost the most during the pandemic is tourism. Things are slowly returning to the normal, the old life we all know well continues and we have the opportunity to do the activities we love once again.
Just one email from my friends from the Ministry of Tourism of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka was enough to get out of the comfort and fear zone due to the current health situation and go to my favorite dream island that I had the opportunity to visit for the first time in 2018. If by any chance you want to remind yourself what my first adventure in Sri Lanka looked like, you can visit this link where you can find all the travel stories that accompanied my first visit to this exotic country.
The Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, formerly known as Ceylon, is an island country in South Asia. If we look at its geographical position, the island is located in the Indian Ocean, southwest of the Bay of Bengal and southeast of the Arabian Sea, and is separated from the Indian subcontinent by the Gulf of Manar and the Palk Strait.
An interesting fact is that Sri Lanka shares a maritime border with India and the Maldives. There is one fact that few people know about, and that is that Sri Jaiavardenepura Kotte is the legislative capital of Sri Lanka, while Colombo is the largest city on the island and also a financial, political and cultural center.
The members of the team, which consists of people from the Ministry of Tourism and the National Tourist Board of Sri Lanka, really made a real effort to devise a travel itinerary and program that will inspire every traveler to spend their vacation in this distant exotic destination. When you come to Sri Lanka, you realize that all the roads lead from Colombo to further unusual places on the island, so that’s how I started my adventure.
Colombo is the largest commercial city on the island, the city center of Colombo alone has a population of almost 6 million people. This metropolis is the financial center of the island and the main tourist destination. Colombo is on the west coast of the island and next to the Greater Colombo area which includes Sri Jayavardenpura Kote, the legislative capital of Sri Lanka and Dehivala-Mount Lavinia.
Many people often call Colombo the capital because Sri Jaiavardenepura Kotte is located within the urban / suburban area of Colombo. Colombo is a unique, bustling and vibrant city with a mix of modern life, colonial buildings and historical monuments.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the manager and staff of the The Kingsbury Hotel in Colombo, who really did their best to make me feel at home. This nation is known as one of the best hosts and due to its cordiality and exceptional hospitality they are at the very top in the tourism industry.
My first day in Sri Lanka began with a tour of Colombo with the selfless help of Mrs. Rajini de Silva Mendis, who is the founder of the largest travel agency Ebert Silva Holidays in Sri Lanka. The members of her team made an effort to fulfill my plan and program and to spend an exceptional day in Colombo. Let’s (re)discover the beauties of this exceptional city together!
If we take a good look at the geographical relief of Colombo, we can conclude that it is an unusual mixture of land and water. The city has many canals and in the heart of the city is Lake Beira. The lake is one of the most prominent sights of Colombo and colonists have used it for centuries to defend the city. Today, this lake is becoming a local tourist attraction, where various public events are held every day, such as regattas and theater performances on the shores of the lake. The northern and northeastern borders of the city of Colombo are “drawn” by the river Kelani, which meets the Indian Ocean in the part of the city known as Modera.
Now we come to the favorite part that interests all true adventurers… What to visit if the road leads you to Colombo?
Galle Face Green city promenade is located in the heart of the city along the coast of the Indian Ocean and this locality is equally interesting to tourists and residents, believe me, it never leaves you indifferent. Galle Face Hotel is a historical landmark on the southern edge of this promenade.
The Gangaramaya Temple is one of the most important temples in Colombo. The architecture of the temple shows an eclectic mix of architecture from Sri Lanka, Thailand, India and China.
Viharamahadevi Park (formerly Victoria Park) is an urban park located next to the Colombo National Museum and the City Hall. It is the oldest and largest park in Colombo and has a large Buddha statue.
As part of the Government of Sri Lanka’s Urban Regeneration Program, many old sites and buildings have been converted into modern public spaces for recreation and shopping. The program also includes Independence Memorial Square, Floating Pettah Market and the Old Dutch Hospital and many other sites.
Now we will go together on an interesting and detailed tour of the National Museum of Colombo. The Colombo National Museum, better known as the National Museum of Sri Lanka, is one of the two museums in Colombo. It is the largest museum in Sri Lanka. The museum contains many rich collections of great national importance to Sri Lanka, such as the royal regalia of the country, including the throne and crown of Monarch Kandy, as well as many other exhibits that can “tell” you an unusual story of ancient Sri Lanka.
The Colombo Museum, as the museum was originally called, was founded on January 1, 1877. Its founder was Sir William Henry Gregory, then British Governor of Ceylon (Sri Lanka). The Royal Asian Society was instrumental in informing Gregory of his appointment as governor in 1872 on the need for a public museum, with many problems, and approval to build and open a museum was obtained by the legislature in record time.
Architect James George Smitter, who was in charge of designing the museum’s plan, was able to prepare projects for a completely new structure in the Italian style. The construction of the building was completed in 1876, and the museum started working the following year.
In January 1877, Governor Gregory declared the Colombo Museum open, in the presence of a large number of guests.
In the period between 1877 and 1999, the museum authorities undertook numerous efforts to exhibit exclusively the cultural and natural heritage of the country. Over the years, several new wings have been added to the museum and everything has been added from time to time. The museum received the status of a national museum during the period of P. E. P. Deraniiagal. He opened branches of museums in Jaffna, Kandy and Ratnapura, and a full-fledged department of the National Museum was founded in 1942. In the end, nine branches were opened, and a new school science program and a mobile museum service were also opened.
The museum has a copy of the Tara statue, three-quarters of the life-size Tara statue currently housed in the British Museum. Numerous royal jewels and the throne of the last King Kandy, which was returned to Sri Lanka by the British government, are also in the museum’s collection. The ground floor exhibition galleries are arranged in chronological historical order, and the exhibitions on the first floor are divided thematically.
The library was also founded on January 1, 1877. The State Oriental Library was incorporated into the library of the National Museum of Colombo and served as the core of the collection by collecting local publications for the past 130 years. The library functioned as the unofficial national library of Sri Lanka and became the first official library on the island. From the very beginning, special attention was paid to the creation of a collection related to Sri Lanka, Orientation and Natural Sciences.
One of the important facts is that in 1982, Dr. Thelma Gunawardena became the first woman director of the Colombo National Museum. She performed her function of the director of the museum in the period from 1982 to 1994.
From 1972 to 1991, prof. Pandula Andagama was the head of the Department of Anthropology and the assistant director of the National Museum. During his tenure, he established an anthropological deposit in the National Museum. He also organized numerous temporary exhibitions at the National Museum.
The National Museum is maintained by the Department of National Museums and while Portuguese buildings are perhaps less noticeable in Colombo, there are still plenty of Dutch and British buildings. The National Museum is visited by students, local and foreign tourists, numerous researchers and world media. Sri Lanka has a long history and this museum is a testament to their proud history.
The National Museum is the largest museum in Sri Lanka and contains collections of great cultural significance. These collections are also a good source for detailed research, especially for people studying history because they provide useful information.
The Gangaramaya Temple is one of the most important temples in Colombo because it is a mixture of modern architecture and cultural heritage. Located on Beira Lake, it was built in the late 19th century. The architecture of the temple shows an extraordinary mix of Sri Lankan, Thai, Indian and Chinese architecture.
This Buddhist temple includes several imposing buildings and is located not far from the calm waters of Lake Beira on land that was originally a small hermitage on a piece of wetland. It has the main characteristics of Vihara (temple), Cetiia (Pagada), Bodhitree, Vihara Mandiraia, Seema malaka (monk gathering hall) and Relic. In addition, the premises include a museum, library, residential hall, three-story Pirivena, educational halls and a charity hall.
Today, Gangaramaya serves as a place of Buddhist worship and a center of learning. The temple is involved in Buddhist social assistance, including nursing homes, vocational schools and orphanages. The temple is uniquely attractive and tolerant towards members of many different religions. He was instrumental in establishing the Buddhist Temple on Staten Island (USA), the Buddhist Center in New York, and the Buddhist Center in Tanzania, thus helping to propagate the Dhamma in other countries.
Seema Malaka is a Buddhist temple in Colombo, which is mainly used for meditation and rest, and not for worship. Located in Lake Beira, the temple was originally built in the late 19th century. Seema Malaka is part of the Gangaramaja temple and is located a few hundred meters east of it.
The original structure slowly sank into the water in the 1970s. in 1976, but in 1976, Sri Lankan architect Jeffrey Bawa was invited to redesign and build the temple, which we have the opportunity to see today.
The temple was built on three special platforms that hold the temple above the water and are connected to the mainland and to each other by pontoon bridges. The main roof of the temple is covered with blue tiles, and the temple is made of collected spindles and handrails in wooden finishes. The architecture of the building is reminiscent of the Kandy era.
All three platforms have a large number of seated Buddha statues depicting various sages. On the main (central) platform there is a shelter made of wooden meditation boards. On one of the side platforms is the Bodhi tree which was grown from a branch of the Jaia Sri Maha Bodhi tree in Anuradhapura. The four corners of the side platform have small shrines dedicated to Shiva, Vishnu, Kataragama deviyo and Ganesha. At the entrance to the temple there is a sanctuary dedicated to Guanyin, and in the temple complex there is another statue of Guanyin.
Lotus Tower, also known as Colombo Lotus Tower is a tower that is 350 m high. Many consider it a modern symbol of Colombo and the whole of Sri Lanka. The lotus tower is used for communication, observation and other leisure activities. According to media reports, the construction of the tower cost over 100 million dollars.
The design of this building is inspired by the lotus flower. The lotus symbolizes the purity of Sri Lankan culture and is also considered to symbolize the flourishing development of the country. The base of the tower is inspired by the lotus throne and will also be formed by two inverted trapezoids. It is planned that the color of the tower will be alternately pink and light yellow with a smooth transition – an effect that is achieved by special coating of glass.
The view from the top is amazing and as I found out there are plans to open a luxury rotating restaurant that will have the best panorama of the city in the palm of your hand. Who knows, watching this karma of mine, I might find myself in magical Colombo again in 4 years!
Sri Kailawasanathan Swami Devasthanam Kovil also known as Kapikaawatha Shivan Temple was built in the 17th century by a group of Indian Chetti traders known as “Thiruvilanga Nakarathar” who moved to Sri Lanka for business. Sri Kailawasanathan Swami Devasthanam Kovil Temple is one of the city’s most visited attractions. No tickets are required to visit this place. It is good to visit this Hindu temple during the morning hours due to less crowds.
This area is a good place for meditation because it is a special oasis filled with peace and tranquility. If you are lucky, you can attend a Hindu Tamil wedding in this temple. Indian Hindu tourists come to this temple to participate in the Poojas Temple and to receive a blessing from the temple priests.
What other interesting sights can you see in Colombo?
The two towers of the World Trade Center were once the city’s most recognizable landmarks. Before they were completed in 1997, the neighboring tower of the Bank of Ceylon was the tallest building and the most prominent city landmark.
Before the skyscrapers were built, it was the Old Parliament building that stood magnificently in Fort County with the Old Columbus Lighthouse nearby. Another important landmark is the Independence Hall on Independence Square in the Cinnamon Fields.
Even before the parliament was built, some claim that sailors approaching the port recognized the Colombo Mosque as the Mosque of Ul-Alfar. The mosque is still one of the most visited tourist places in Colombo.
Another landmark is the Church of St. Paul in Milagiriya, one of the oldest churches in Sri Lanka, first built by the Portuguese and rebuilt by the British in 1848. The Cargills & Millers building in Fortu is also a protected building of historical significance.
Galle Face Green is the largest and most elegant city promenade. Surrounded by coconut trees and along the coast, this mile-long part of the heart of the city is a constant hive of activities. The greenery is especially busy on Fridays and Saturdays. In the evening, it hosts families and children who play sports and kite flying, lovers who hug under umbrellas and health lovers on evening walks. There are numerous small food stalls and a small part of the beach. Green often hosts international and local concerts and performances, such as the World Drum Festival.
The cannons that were once placed on the ramparts of the old fortress of Colombo were placed for respect and prestige on Green, giving the city a colonial spirit. The colonial-style Galle Face Hotel, known as the Asian Emerald on the Green since 1864, is located near the Galle Face Green. The hotel has hosted guests such as the British royal family and other royal guests and celebrities from the worlds of politics and film.
My dear travelers, we have come to the end of this special post about the jewel of Sri Lanka – Colombo, which would not have been possible without the selfless help of the Ministry of Tourism of Sri Lanka in cooperation with local partners such as Ebert Silva Holidays and The Kingsbury Hotel. Colombo and Sri Lankan cultures and traditions. Of course, as always, I tried to share my impressions of this unusual city in Sri Lanka.
Time always flies when a person has a good time! A man is rich at heart if he has managed to explore the world and I am glad to always be able to find partners for my projects that help me discover new and unusual destinations in a completely different way during this global health crisis COVID-19.
I am honored to have the opportunity to work with companies that are at the top of the tourism industry and I would like to thank them for this amazing adventure and for allowing me to experience the beauty of this unusual island country in South Asia in a completely different way.
How did you like this story of mine about Colombo? Have you had the opportunity to visit this city in Sri Lanka so far?
If you have a question, comment, suggestion or message for me you can write to me below in the comments. Of course, as always you can contact me via email or social networks, all addresses can be found on the CONTACT page. See you in the same place in a couple of days, with a new story from Sri Lanka!
Warm greetings from Colombo,
This post is sponsored by the Ministry of Tourism of Sri Lanka, Sri Lankan Tourism Board, The Kingsbury Hotel, Ebert Silva Holidays and Bric’s brand. This post presents my personal and honest review of the destination experience.