Colombo, Sri Lanka‘s bustling commercial hub, is located on the country’s west coast and with a population of between 800,000 and one million (estimates vary) is by far the country’s biggest city, as well as the most developed. Its natural harbour at the mouth of the Kelani River was a magnet for successive traders and conquerors – initially the Arab merchants, then Portuguese, Dutch and British imperialists.
The city is a jarring mix of old and new, with a central cluster of high-rise office blocks and hotels overshadowing red-tiled colonial-era buildings and sprawling street markets which overflow with high-piled fruit and vegetables, colourful silks and cottons, and deliciously fragrant spices. On its crowded streets stand places of worship, symbolic of Sri Lanka‘s multiethnic heritage: graceful Buddhist viharas (temples), for instance, stand close to extravagant temples encrusted with Hindu statuary, along with Muslim mosques with minarets scattered along Colombo’s streets. Its population is swollen by some 400,000 plus commuting workers during the day and is virtually empty after nightfall. There is a lively nightlife at a number of International standard hotels, clubs, pubs and dining venues while it is limited mainly to the high end customer. During the day, Colombo’s colourful street markets, colonial-era buildings, museums and galleries, churches, mosques and temples, and the lovely Viharamahadevi Park with it beautiful trees, makes it a great place to explore on foot.
Originally named Kolomthota, Colombo was the main seaport of Kotte, the country’s 15th and 16th century capital. Known to Arab traders as Kalamba, the city attracted the rapacious Portuguese as early as 1505 and became the bastion of their rule for almost 150 years. Surprisingly little remains to attest to this era, apart from a scattering of Portuguese surnames in the telephone directory and a handful of Roman Catholic churches and seminaries depicting their architecture.
The central area of the city is still known as Fort, but the remnants of the colonial battlements have long since been demolished, or incorporated in newer buildings. There are more mementoes of the British period, including the neo-Classical old parliament building, the Victorian-era President’s House (still often called ‘Queen’s House’), and the grandly mercantile brick facade of Cargill’s, a splendid 19th-century department store that has changed little since the 19th-century heyday of Sri Lanka‘s British tea planters.
Top things to do in Colombo
Fort, which is located between the Colombo Harbour to the north and the murky urban lagoon of Beira Lake to the south, is known as the heart of Colombo. The Portuguese built and extended their fortress here during more than a century of conquest and resistance. It was taken over by the Dutch, and finally demolished by the British after they completed their conquest of the country in the mid 19th century. Today, the area is the city’s financial and commercial heart and houses Colombo’s main international hotels, as well as Sri Lanka’s seat of government.
The mid 19th century Clock Tower, at the comer of Janadhipathi Mawatha and Chatham Street, was originally a lighthouse and is now a handy landmark for the city centre area. Other landmarks include the President’s House and Presidential Gardens, a palatial neo-classical building which was originally the home of the British Governors and is now the residence of Sri Lanka’s president; it is sadly off limits to visitors.
Immediately east of Fort (across the narrow canal that separates the outer harbour from the Beira Lake) is Pettah, a maze of streets and alleys piled and crammed with goods of every description, from colourful textiles, gold and silver, and colonial-era antiquities to the necessities of everyday life – spices, fruits and vegetables, reeking heaps of dried fish, paraffin, batteries, electrical goods, clothes and footwear. Whatever you are looking for, you’ll find it in Pettah – though shopping here, which can call for determined bargaining, is not for the faint of heart. Among the most interesting streets for both sightseeing and shopping is Sea Street, in the northeast corner of Pettah, with its goldsmiths’ work-shops and the dramatically colourful Hindu Kathiresan and Old Kathiresan kovil (temples).
These are the starting points for the Vel festival, celebrating the marriage of the god Murugan (the top Tamil deity) to his queen Deivanai and concubine Valli Ammal, which is held each year in August. Not too far from these stand the Grand Mosque, the most important mosque for Sri Lanka’s Muslim population, on New Moor Street, whose very name reflects a long-standing heritage of contact with the Arab world, and the Jami Ul Alfar Mosque, at the corner of Bankshall Street and Second Cross Street. Built at the beginning of the 20th century, its decorative brick work, patterned in red and white, is conspicuous.
Dutch Period Museum
Built during the second half of the 17th century as the residence of Count August van Ranzow, the Dutch East India Company’s governor in Colombo, this attractive old building at 95 Prince Street is one of the few surviving remnants of Colombo’s Dutch colonial heritage. On the fringes of Pettah, it is surrounded by market stalls and antique shops. It’s rather chaotic collection includes coins, weapons, pottery, portraits and furniture from the period of Dutch rule, and also traces the descent of the dwindling ‘Burgher’ community. Open Saturday-Thursday 09:00 – 17:00.
Galle Face Promenade
The Galle Face Green, which is immediately south of Fort, is a long, thin park facing the Indian Ocean which fills up with food stalls and locals on weekday and weekend evenings as it is a popular meeting place to relax. A narrow arm of Beira Lake separates this district from Slave Island, a peninsula where the Dutch imprisoned slaves from their Asian colonies. Galle Road, Colombo’s long seafront boulevard runs south from Galle Face Green, eventually becoming the main coastal road to Galle and the Deep South. It’s always crowded with traffic and short on charm, but as the city’s main thoroughfare it also has some of the best shopping malls and a number of important buildings, including the official residence of Sri Lanka’s premier, the US Embassy, the British High Commission and some of the city’s top five star hotels.
National Museum, Puppetry and Children’s Museum
At Sir Marcus Fernando Mawatha (also known as Albert Crescent), next to the Viharamahadevi Park, the National Museum was Sri Lanka’s first and was founded in 1877. Its collection spans several centuries and a range of cultures, from the Sinhala kingdoms through to the British era. Highlights include the royal trappings of the last Kings of Kandy. There are also some superb stone sculptures, as well as Hindu bronzes and wooden carvings, Sri Lankan and European furniture and ceramics, and (to Western eyes) a fine array of grotesque masks representing Buddhist demons and deities. The museum’s huge library of more than 500,000 books is primarily of interest to scholars, but its collection of 4000 palm leaf manuscripts – created by etching the lettering into the fibrous surface of the leaf – are on display for everyone to admire. A small Gallery of mid 19th century paintings and etchings shows Sri Lanka through the eyes of British artists.
Within the National Museum, on the first floor, is the Puppetry and Children’s Museum. Puppetry is a living part of Sri Lanka’s cultural heritage, and the museum displays traditional Sri Lankan figures and marionettes from all over the world, with regular weekend performances. It is open Saturday-Thursday, 09:00-17:00.
National Art Gallery (Cultural Museum) Colombo
Located at 106 Ananda Kumaraswamy Mawatha, this Gallery which is on the edge of Viharannahadevi Park houses a rather humdrum assortment of portraits of Sri Lanka’s independence pioneers and heads of state.
The changing programme of shows by contemporary Sri Lankan artists is sometimes more interesting. Open 08:00-17:00 daily.
Natural History Museum
Housed in the same building as the National Art Gallery, this collection is a hit and miss affair with stuffed birds and animals displayed in cases showing their natural habitat, and sections dealing with Sri Lanka’s geology, climate, and plant life. The most striking display is of an elephant’s skeleton, and there are also displays which focus on some of the country’s ambitious hydro-electric and irrigation engineering schemes. Open 09:00-17:00 daily.
Independence Memorial Hall
The Independence Memorial Hall, most commonly known as the Independence Square, is a National Monument in Sri Lanka. The structure was built in commemoration of the Independence of Sri Lanka from the British rule and to mark the ceremonial start of self rule with the opening of the first parliament on the 4th of February 1948. There is also a statue of the first prime minister of the country right in front of the structure. Many events including the Independence Day celebrations are held here annually.
Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall (BMICH)
The BMICH is a well known convention centre that is located in Colombo and was built between the years 1970 – 73. A gift from the People’s Republic of China in memory of the Prime Minister of Ceylon from 1956 – 1959, Sir Solomon Ridgeway Dias Bandaranaike, the construction was carried out as a joint venture from both countries. With a total area of 16,000 sq ft, BMICH is always the venue chosen for high profile events and exhibitions including CHOGM (Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting 2013).
The Arcade – Independence Square
Once the Old Auditor General’s Building, the Arcade – Independence Square is a well refurbished development project which has turned out to be a trendy shopping and entertainment venue. Strategically located, every nook and cranny of the Arcade tells its own story. From landscaped gardens to intricate wooden carvings, the touch of charm cannot be ignored. The centrepiece which is a sculpture of a pride of lions is considered as symbolic for Sri Lanka. The venue is ideal for entertainment, leisure, shopping and dining for the entire family while you can also enjoy a handful of global brands within. The movie theatres are state of the art while an array of dining options is available for friends and families to enjoy.
Nelum Pokuna Mahinda Rajapaksa Theatre
This theatre which was opened in December 2011 is a performing arts centre in Colombo, Sri Lanka. It’s perfect location in the city has made it an ideal venue for many International gatherings and functions since its establishment. The architecture of the structure has been inspired by the 12th Century Nelum Pokuna (Lotus Pond) which was built by King Parakramabahu the Great during the prosperous era when Polonnaruwa was once the capital.
Opened in 2014, the Pettah Floating Market was a part of the Urban Development Plan to make the Business District more attractive. Constructed as a series of pavilions, the floating market is located on the far end of a restored area of the Beira Lake between the Fort Railway station and the Pettah Bus stand. There are a number of stalls that sell various types of electronics, clothes, shoes, jewellery, short-eats, vegetables and fruits. The food court also sells a generous amount of food that is easy on the pocket. There are various places where one can sit and relax while the ambience is best during sunset due to the open air setting. Boat rides can be enjoyed during the weekend. The downside at times is the bad odour that is quite generic when it comes to the Beira Lake.
The Good Market
The Good Market was started off as a mission driven social enterprise to promote various products and services that are “good for the planet, good for the country and good for you”. There is an application and review process that you have to go through if you want to become a vendor at the Good Market. Usually, the Good Market is held in the Racecourse Grounds on specific days while there is also a Good Market shop open at Lakpahana Grounds on a daily basis.
Old Parliament Building
Located in Colombo Fort, facing the sea, the Old Parliament Building is a Neo-Baroque style edifice that was built during the British Colonial Era. The building housed the island’s legislature for 53 years since 1930 until the New Parliament was built in 1983. The Old Parliament Building is however a venue for many state functions that are held in Sri Lanka all year round. First adorned with the British Coat of Arms till 1948 when it was replaced by the Arms of the Dominion of Ceylon and once again replaced with the Arms of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka in 1972.
Royal Colombo Golf Club
The Royal Colombo Golf Club which is located in the heart of Colombo was established in 1880 and is currently the oldest Golf Club in the country. It is home to the Sri Lanka Golf Union and maintains strong ties with the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews in Scotland. Surrounded by residential areas and various businesses, the Golf Club consists of a scenic landscape and glimpses of rare species of flora and fauna along the course. Set within 96 acres of a former model farm, the Royal Colombo Golf Club consists of an extensive range of historic golf memorabilia and a club house for members and their families to relax.
Gangaramaya Buddhist Temple
Located amidst the calm waters of the Beira Lake, the Gangaramaya Temple complex is a vibrant venue located in the heart of the Business District. The complex consists of the Main Gangaramaya Buddhist Temple, the “Seema Malaka” which is an assembly hall for monks and also a vocational training institute. The temple is over 120 years old while now it has been converted to an institution of International significance. The temple and its surroundings are adorned with colourful lights during various ceremonial months while the annual Nawam Perahera conducted by the Gangaramaya is one of the most vibrant and colourful processions in the island.
Asokaramaya Buddhist Temple
The Asokaramaya Buddhist Temple in Colombo is one of the religious sites that you should not miss when exploring Colombo. The temple is unimpressive from the outside but once you walk in, you are greeted with fine grandeur. The temple boasts of some of the finest wall murals the island has to offer with finely refined details and lively colours. Not known among many travellers, the temple is a much appreciated and venerated place of worship among Buddhists in the island.
Kelaniya Raja Maha Viharaya
With a history dating back to more than 2500 years, the Kelaniya Raja Maha Viharaya is located along the banks of the Kelani River approximately 6 miles from the Colombo Business District in a suburb by the name of Kelaniya.
According to the Mahavamsa records, Buddhists trust that Lord Buddha stopped at this particular site to preach and the gem studded throne that he sat on is believed to have been enshrined here.
The Kelaniya Raja Maha Viharaya is also famed for its numerous paintings that depict the important episodes of the life of Lord Buddha and also for its image of the reclining Buddha. Highlighting vibrant culture and religious devotion, the Duruth Maha Perahera which is an energetic and colourful procession is held once a year during the full moon poya day of the month of January.
Jami Ul-Alfar Mosque
Located along 2nd Cross Street in Pettah, the Jami Ul-Alfar Mosque is a historic site and a popular tourist destination in the city. Set in the midst of the city’s bazaar district, the mosque was built in 1909 and for many years was also considered as the landmark of Colombo by sailors approaching the port.
Decorated in red and white bricks, the mosque attracts many devotees to fulfil their daily prayers and Jummah on Friday’s.
Sri Ponnambalam Vanesar Kovil
Located in Kotahena, a busy area of Colombo within walking distance of St. Anthony’s church, the Sri Ponnambalam Vanesar Kovil which dates back to the mid eighteen hundreds is a sacred Hindu Temple that has been made entirely of granite stone. The patterns of granite are a mesmerizing architectural pattern which provides its calm and peaceful ambience. You can see a myriad of devotees from all over the country gather at the temple to pay homage to the temple deity – Lord Shiva. Evening prayers are conducted along with instrumental music which sets the perfect mood for one to conduct religious rights. Cameras are not permitted within the temple.
St. Lucia’s Cathedral
Named and dedicated after the virgin and martyr St. Lucy, this cathedral is considered the largest and oldest parish cathedral in Sri Lanka. The facade of the cathedral is adorned with seven massive statues atop gigantic columns while the architectural style spells out Renaissance and Baroque. The main alter consists of a beautiful larger than life size statue of St. Lucy while there are exquisite stained glass windows that lights up brilliant colours when the sunlight is directed at them. There is a choir loft with a unique pipe organ and further up the narrow stairway is “Anthony Thomas”, the enormous bell that weighs 4300 lbs.
Another relic of the Dutch period is this stone church on Wolvendaal Street, built in 1749. Worth looking at are the tombstones set into the floor, which were moved from a church within the Fort in 1813.
The dates on the tombs of several Dutch governors, whose bones were reinterred here, reveal how risky life could have been for the Dutch conquerors: even during peacetime, the death toll from disease was high and many died after only a short stay in Colombo. Open during usual church hours.
St Anthony’s Church
Even though there are many churches that are found all over Sri Lanka that have come up to honour St. Anthony, the most popular church would be the one in Kochchikade – Colombo. This church attracts hundreds and thousands of devotees from all over from every religion and race to the heart of Colombo. With much effort after the dark days of Dutch persecution of the Catholics, a little chapel which was built of mud was enlarged in 1806. After a few years in 1822, some of the members of the congregation travelled to Goa and bought back a statue of St. Anthony which is up to date kept within the church’s premises. A small relic of the incorrupt tongue of St. Anthony is also enshrined. For many devotees with faith, this shrine is a place of miraculous powers.
National Zoological Garden
Also referred as the Colombo Zoo or the Dehiwala Zoo, the National Zoological Gardens were founded in 1936. The zoo which claims to be one of the oldest zoos in Asia is open all year long and has a substantial collection of animals while it also includes an aquarium, walk through aviary, reptile house, butterfly garden and many enclosed areas. The zoo has also been designed incorporating beautiful landscaped gardens with colourful flowers, foliage and water fountains. There are animal performances such as elephant shows, educational programmes on chimps and also a sea lions performance. Souvenir shops are available for visitors to purchase various trinkets and memorabilia.
Emanating elegance and luxury, Casa Colombo is a trendy and chic hotel that attracts the cream of the crowd. The venue which emanates lavishness offers a number of accommodation units, dining venues and chill out areas for the discerning guests. To enjoy some of the best fusion cuisine and a number of International favourites, Casa Colombo is definitely a Colombo city favourite.
Another addition to the stylish boutique hotel brands in the city, the Colombo Courtyard also offers the discerning traveller a much needed break in the city. With elegant yet charming interiors, this hotel caters to all your travel needs including a number of dining options as well as a spa which helps you to experience true rejuvenation of mind, body and soul. Dining options are a treat with fusion cuisine, fresh baked goods and a lounge bar where you can chill out after a busy day at work.
Park Street Mews
Hidden amidst the hustle and bustle of the city of Colombo, Park Street Mews is a charming venue paved with cobble stones and fairy lights offering you a bit of everything. Offering you the perfect combination of retail, food and various events, Park Street Mews have been a venue of unique gatherings. From weddings and corporate events to open mic nights, the stables, the warehouse and the street is transformed accordingly. Trendy dining venues and a spa keeps you energized and refreshed at all times. Locals have slowly started to adjust to such unique venues in Colombo and there have been picture perfect nights when a happy couple walked arm in arm along the path after saying I do. The Park Street Mews is located in a quiet corner hidden away from the noisiness of the business district.
The Lighthouse Galley is a charming restaurant that is located facing the Colombo Lighthouse. The ambience is multiplied by the good food which is value for money and the well disciplined services of the staff. A unique aspect of the Lighthouse Galley is the Forecastle which is a fine dining area which is located in the upper deck area of the restaurant.
This space offers patrons beautiful views of the Indian Ocean, the lighthouse and the Port while you are sure to enjoy some delectable local cuisine under the stars.
The Manhattan Fish Market Sri Lanka
The famous American style Manhattan fish n’ chips is the main dish that patrons enjoy at the Manhattan Fish Market in Colombo. This well known franchise has come a long way with over 50 restaurants in Asia and the Middle East offering the best Fish n’ Chips you can ask for. The success of the restaurant purely depends on the regional produce along with innovative fusion cuisine and effective staff members who work effortlessly to serve the customer. The menu ranges from mouth-watering starters to soups, chowders, salads and sides, pasta dishes, fried, poached, grilled and various specialty seafood dishes. You can also conclude your meal with a delicious dessert which includes Tuscan Tiramisu and a Manhattan Mud Pie.
Colombo Fort Railway Station
A major rail hub in the heart of the Business District, the Fort Railway Station is served by Sri Lanka Railways. Serving as a terminus for most intercity and commuter trains of the entire island, the venue is visited daily by thousands of commuters both local and foreign.
The present station was opened in 1917 and its architecture is somewhat slightly similar to the Manchester Victoria Station while it has been built on a land area which was reclaimed from the Beira Lake. The Station offers easy access to Colombo Fort and Pettah.
The Floor by O
Located in a posh neighbourhood of Colombo, the Floor by O has been around for a while and is a hip meeting place for the young corporate generation. Open from 11.00 am to 12 midnight, this venue offers delicious lunch and dinner dishes, a unique and appetizing drink menu and late night snacks.
You can even enjoy a late night dessert with your better half. You can certainly enjoy a good meal with your friends while listening to some music. The Floor by O has an outdoor section for smoking purposes while you can also enjoy great views while sipping your favourite cocktail.
CIOCONAT Lounge Sri Lanka
Taking you on a journey to widen up your taste buds to everything Italian, the CIOCONAT lounge, offers patrons true Italian hospitality and delicious Italian cuisine. The exquisite product range includes a number of specialties, all things chocolate, fondues, coffee and tea, fresh juices, frozen creams, Ciocotails and Mocktails, frozen cocktails, sandwiches, salads, pastas, pizzas, crepes, creamy desserts, gelatos and even a kids menu. All food and beverages are of the highest standards and fresh produce is bought down by a number of Italian factories. The interiors of the lounge are warm and cozy while you will be served by a professional at all times.
An exceptional and artistic club located in the heart of the city, Kama Colombo offers guests a unique experience. Kama consists of a restaurant as well as a lounge / night club. The restaurant at Kama Colombo serves a range of delectable cuisines which will transport you through a journey of Eastern flavours enticing your senses all the way.
The restaurant also contains a private dining option and a VIP lounge for special guests. The Kama lounge which consists of club Kama boasts of a multi coloured laser lighting system and great vibes so that you can enjoy an eventful night out with your friends or colleagues.
A spacious area which has become a meeting place for friends and families as well as casual business meetings, Excel World is a popular hangout within the city. You are guaranteed a night of fun with state of the art activities including a bowling alley, a laser gaming centre, pool / billiards, various gaming zones and even a number of corporate hangouts such as the Corporate lounge, and the Blue Room. With a multi-cuisine food court, Excel World also boasts of a Pizza World and the Keg which is a Pub and Restaurant that offers you good music, beers and pub dishes. The Dome is a unique place where kids and adults can enjoy a bit of snow which is not experienced in a tropical country like Sri Lanka.
For high end brands as well as some of the best handmade local products, the Crescat Boulevard is a modern three-storey shopping mall which is located adjoining the Cinnamon Grand Colombo. There is a wide selection of designer wear, exotic handcrafts, electronics, cosmetics, books, as well as a kiddies game arcade, a supermarket and a food court which offers a mix of delectable fare including Sri Lankan, Chinese, Korean, Indian, Thai, Malay and fast food joints. A couple of high end cafes and bistros are also located within the boulevard making this a hip handout area with a multitude of shopping options.
The Visa Centre
Located in a high-class neighbourhood of Colombo, the Visa Centre is the largest visa processing and consultancy firm in Sri Lanka. This centre comprises of a network of visa consultants, lawyers and processing staff to handle complex visa situations to countries such as Australia, Belgium, China, Canada, Cyprus, Finland, Denmark, Germany, France, Iceland, India, Malaysia, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Philippines, Singapore, Sweden, Switzerland, UK and USA. The Visa Centre has expertise in issues such as appeals of rejected visas, work permits, permanent residence, citizenship, dependant visas, parent visas, spouse visas, same gender visas and business / entrepreneur visas.
Borella Kanatte Cemetery
Located in Borella, Colombo this is the main burial ground for all faiths within the business district.
Located in a bustling junction of the city, the cemetery was established in the year 1840. The cemetery is also home to a Commonwealth War Graves plot and a number of additional war graves that have been dispersed around the vast ground area. There are over 300 commonwealth war casualties which have been commemorated in this site. You can make a visit to this section but the commission suggests that you check out the Commonwealth Travel site and follow their advice accordingly prior to the visit.
Dutch Hospital Complex
Known as the oldest building in the Colombo Fort Area, the Dutch Hospital Complex dates back to the Dutch-Colonial era of Sri Lanka. After careful restoration, this heritage venue is now one of the most sought after shopping and dining precincts in Colombo. Talking about the history of the building, it was initially built by the Dutch as a hospital and was used for several purposes thereon. During the early 1980’s to the 90’s, the building was used as the Colombo Fort Police Station and suffered heavy damage from the bombing in 1996. The restoration of the Dutch Hospital Complex was completed by the year 2011 and is now a cheery place to hangout.
The Colombo Lighthouse
Operated and maintained by the Sri Lanka Ports Authority, the Colombo Lighthouse is located along the South of the Port of Colombo. The current structure was built in 1952 and opened by the first Prime Minister of Ceylon. The Lighthouse is built on a concrete base which is 12 metres high and consists of 4 statues of lions at its base. Also around the base of the lighthouse is a naval gun battery which is used by the Sri Lanka Navy for traditional gun salutes as of date. The total height of the Lighthouse is 29 meters while its characteristics include three white flashes every ten seconds.
Old Colombo Lighthouse
Located in Colombo Fort, the Old Colombo Lighthouse or the Colombo Fort Clock Tower was a light house in Colombo. The structure is found at the junction of Chatham Street and Janadhipathi Mawatha (Queens Road). Originally a lighthouse and then demolished, the current clock tower was constructed in 1856-57.
Named during the Dutch Era, the Beira Lake has a history of over 100 years. The lake used to cover approximately 165 hectares but has been limited to a mere 65 hectares today. The location being the centre of the city and surrounded by buildings is assumed to have been the reason behind the reduction of the lake.
The Beira Lake was originally built before the city was colonized while it had been connected to many intricate canals which was an easy way to transport goods during the Colonial times when the Dutch and English ruled the island. The lake which consists of two distinct bodies of water is connected via a narrow canal. Home to the Colombo Rowing Club for over 140 years, the lake has a maximum length of 1 mile. The infamous green colour of the Beira Lake and the bad odour is a result of the pollution over the years as well as the algae that is present in the water. The bad smell is prominent during dry weather. However, there is a Beira Lake restoration project that was started to bring the lake back to its former glory.
Located just across the Town Hall Building, the Viharamahadevi Park is the largest and oldest park in the heart of Colombo. Open to the public, the park was built during the British rule and was formally known as the “Victoria Park” and renamed as Viharamahadevi in honour of the famed historical queen of Sri Lanka, the mother of King Dutugamunu. From a Buddha statue, many fountains, flowers and even an amphitheatre that is used for various performances, the park is the ideal place for long evening walks.
Renamed as Ananda Coomaraswamy Mawatha in honour of a well known philosopher and writer, Green Path offers you access to the National Art Gallery and the Viharamahadevi Park. However, the road is mainly famous for its colourful and unique artwork that you will see stacked along the cobblestone pavements. There are numerous artists who are found selling their art along the road which offers art lovers a chance to ogle and purchase these wonderful masterpieces. There are various events held along Green Path such as Hawker Street and food promos where you can just walk about and purchase food and various handcrafts items.
The Central Point – Economic History Museum
Run by the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, the Economic History Museum is located in Chatham Street which is in the heart of the Business District.
This charming building which was the tallest during its time was built in 1914 and is now home to an interesting money museum. The prominent part of the building would be the circular tapering atrium which goes up to the height of the building. With wood work and exquisite panelling, this space has been restored wonderfully. The museum however consists of money that is currently under circulation and displays how money is printed.
Town Hall Colombo
The current headquarters of the Colombo Municipal Council and the office of the Mayor of Colombo, the Town Hall of Colombo is located in front of the Viharamahadevi Park. The foundation of the building was laid in 1924 while the building which displays a Neo-Classical style was completed in 1927. The building which stands tall in all its glory in the heart of the city is a pleasant sight and houses the administrative staff of the municipal council. The massive landscaped garden is used as a venue for many local events.
University of Colombo
Located in the business district, the University of Colombo is a public research university and also the oldest institution of modern higher education in Sri Lanka. Also known as the largest university of the island, one can specialize in fields of natural, social, and applied sciences as well as mathematics, law and computer science. Founded in 1921, the University of Colombo is also ranked among the top 10 universities of South Asia. The university also occupies an estate of 50 acres in a posh area of Colombo by the name of “Cinnamon Gardens”. Its periodic architecture has made this building a well known landmark in the city.
Lakpahana which is located opposite the Colombo Racecourse is the largest crafts producer in the island and also acts as the marketing arm of the Sri Lankan Craftsmen and Artisans Association. Lakpahana also works towards providing employment to over 500 artisans through a number of craft centres located throughout the island. Dealing with business for over 40 years Lakpahana offers you a selection of over 15000 products including silver metal work, exquisite silver jewellery pieces, woodcarvings, brass and copper structures, masks, batiks, lacquer ware, pottery, hand embroidered linen, hand woven reed products, coconut shell products and many more. Be prepared to be awed by the local hand craft industry.
The only state owned Gift and Souvenir Boutique, Laksala operates through over 10 branches island-wide with the main being in Colombo.
Established under the National Crafts Council if you are shopping at Laksala, you are bound to come across an interesting range of items including packed tea and spices, clothes, fabrics and accessories, gem and jewellery, arts and crafts, leather and ceramics, candles, incenses and various food products that are relative to Sri Lanka. Categories are also broken down to beautifully unique handlooms, batiks, bath ware and accessories while the most interesting are the arts and crafts which offer a multitude of items.
Initially a harness racecourse, the Colombo Racecourse was used as a temporary airfield during the Second World War. The year 2012 saw the development of the Colombo Racecourse Sports Complex which was the first International Rugby Union ground in Sri Lanka to host National Rugby Union sides home matches. However, again in the year 2014 the ground underwent major renovation which consisted of installation of floodlights and conversion of a part of the grandstand into a shopping and dining complex. Tourists and locals can walk about and shop from various boutiques and enjoy a variety of cuisines.