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Sri Lanka City Guide

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Colombo City Sri Lanka

Colombo Travel Information Print E-mail


Colombo Capital City of Sri Lanka


Colombo city, Sri Lanka’s commercial capital is an interesting blend of the varying influences, it has seen for more than 600 years. Its importance as a trading port increased after the arrival of the Portuguese to the Island in the early 16th Century.



PL Tours and Travels offers the following day trips from Colombo:

  • Day trip Colombo to Kandy and Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage.
  • Day trip Colombo to Sigiriya and Dambulla.
  • Day trip Colombo to Kosgoda and Galle.
  • Day trip Colombo to Anuradhapura.
  • Day trip Colombo to Wilpattu National Park, Wild Life Safari.
  • Day trip Colombo to Ratnapura.
  • Day trip Colombo to Kalpitiya Dolphin Watching.

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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.
Colombo is broken up into 15 postal code areas, these areas are also sometimes used to identify specific areas, ie the Pettah is also often referred to as Colombo 11, and Slave Island referred to as Colombo 2. Once you've got a few directions down you'll find Colombo relatively easy to find your way around.


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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 the President's House. On its fringe is the beautiful sandstone buildings which houses the Presidential Secretariat and the Government Secretariat, formally the Parliament, almost a replica of Whitehall in England.

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.


Colombo Fort Sri Lanka Colombo Fort Area Sri Lanka Colombo Fort Railway Station


Clock Tower cum Lighthouse:

It is a very rare sight indeed- a lighthouse in the middle of the city centre! A landmark in the Colombo Fort is the lighthouse with clock tower, a legacy of the British colonisers. For nearly 100 years it performed the dual task of being a beacon to ships in the Indian Ocean whilst keeping time. Designed by Lady Ward, wife of Governor Sir Henry Ward, it was built in 1857 but installed in 1915 after being stored in a warehouse for 42 years due to lack of funds to install it. In 1950 a second lighthouse was constructed by the sea.


Galle Face:

Galle Face Green, the mile long promenade which borders the Fort on the South, is the largest open air stretch in the city affording a beautiful view of the 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 Galadari and the Taj Samudra. Nearby are the Colombo Hilton, The Cinnamon Grand and the Holiday Inn.



The Pettah which was earlier on the outer fringe of the Fort, is still the busiest shopping bazaar in the city. Its many crisscrossing road mark out sections which specialises in various trades from textiles and sarees, spices and condiments, goldsmiths and jewellers, wholesale dealers in rice, sugar, lentils and chillies. One of these streets - Gabo Lane, still specialises in the trade and ayurvedic herbal medicines, which is the traditional form of medicine in Sri Lanka. In recent years the shopping areas in Colombo have stretched southwards along Galle Road and R. A. de Mel Mawatha down through Kollupitiya, Bambalapitiya, Wellawatte and Havelock Town and Dehiwela.



Pettah Colombo shopping bazaar Pettah Market in Colombo Bazaar in Pettah Colombo Sri Lanka


Places of Interest:


Gangaramaya Simamalakaya

The Gangaramaya Temple complex and Bikkhu Training Centre is spread around the Beira lake and also across the main road. It's imposing buildings with Buddhist artifacts from all over the world is a must see site in the tourist itinerary. The Simamalakaya or the circular Buddhist shrine erected in the centre of the lake is absolutely beautiful at dusk against the light of the setting sun and also in the night lighted up with jet bulbs. The peaceful, calm atmosphere you experience at this shrine is an absolute surprise amidst the noise of the vehicular traffic on the busy roads.

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 built in 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 Nedimala, Dehiwala (famous for the rare collection of books published on Buddhism nationally and internationally). Karagampitiya Temple at Dehiwala (with Buddha statues with sapphires for eyes and frescoes) are few of the many Buddhist institutions in the city.


Bauddhaloka Buddha Image (Avukana)

Facing the Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall stands a beautifully executed 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. The Wolvendhal Church (built by the 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 including 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).


An open - air Art Gallery:

In the heart of Colombo Paintings or works of art are rarely organized for public viewing in open spaces. Such displays of art and artistic skills are often held inside galleries and halls for security reasons and for better display and management. However in the heart of Colombo at Green Path with the green foliage of the Vihara Maha Devi Park as a back-drop you may view an array of exhibits of local artists of exceptional talent.


Kelaniya Raja Maha Vihara:

In the immediate suburbs of the city are two very important visitor attractions. One is the Kelaniya Raja Maha Vihar. a very important Buddhist temple in the North East of the city, and one of the three places in Sri Lanka where Lord Buddha visited has very fascinating wall and ceiling paintings by famous artist Solius Mendis. Its site dates to the very early days of the Sinhalese Buddhist civilization in Sri Lanka.


Zoological Gardens:

South of the city, at Dehiwala is the National Zoological Gardens, which is one of the largest zoological gardens in the South East Asia which has a very large collection of animals, birds and reptile species from the world. Every evening the elephants at the Zoo give a very entertaining performance of light-footed dancing and many other impressive tricks.



Colombo Dehiwela Zoo Colombo Dehiwela Zoo Colombo Dehiwela Zoo


Find more pictures in our Colombo - Dehiwala Zoo photo gallery.

Movie of the Colombo - Dehiwala Zoo


Zoo Movie Part 1
Movie Zoo Colombo Dehiwala
Zoo Movie Part 2
Colombo Dehiwala Zoo Part2
Elephant Dancing Movie
Dehiwala Zoo Elephant Tricks & Dancing





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Last Updated on Monday, 29 June 2015 08:39