is the economic hub of the island of Sri Lanka. Being the most populated city, Colombo is home for almost 2 million people of the country. Colombo spreads along the north-south axis and it is about 14 kilometer long.
The city was called Kalamba in the early days but with arrival of Portuguese the name was changed to Colombo, in honor of Christophe Colombos. Colombo is a multi ethnic multi cultural city and it is the home all ethnic groups in Sri Lanka such as Buddhist, Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Burgers, Borahís. Colombo had been the capital of Sri Lanka during the British colonial period and several decades after the independence. Since Colombo had been an important seat of administration for the British colonial rulers, there is large number of Colonial remnants in Colombo even today. Colombo is a port city and it was the major reason to be chosen as the hub of British trade in the Indian Ocean during the British colonial era. Later British-ceylon administrators developed the city and expanded the port.
In 1978 Colombo lost its importance as the capital of the island and Sri Jayewardenepura declared as the capital of the island. Colombo divided in to 15 zones and each of these zones is identified by a number for example colombo1, colombo2, colombo3 etc.
History of Colombo city
Colombo city had been a well known city in the region among the Arabian, chinese, Indian, Persian, and roman traders as early as pre-Christian era. Sri Lanka is located in the East-West sea route and visited by traders in order to exchange their goods with the local traders. Even though Colombo was well known city among the ancient traders 2,000 years ago, capital city of the country had been Anuradhapura. There was an Arabian settlement in the city of Colombo at the mouth of Kelani River. Arab traders were exporting the goods from the port of Colombo. Goods such as Cinnamon, ivory, gems, elephants were exported by the king of Kotte with the help of Arabs. With the beginning of British colonial period, Colombo city received the prominent place as the capital of Ceylon. Colombo was the capital of the island from 1815 to 1978 until the administrative capital was moved to Sri Jayewardenepura Kotte.
Most of the administrative, commercial, Restaurants, Banks and entertainment venues are located in center of the Colombo city while the shopping area of the city is located nearby. Important places of the city such as historical places, religious buildings, hotels, restaurants, museums, foreign diplomats are residing in colombo1 to colombo7. Galle Face green, Viharamahadevi Park, National Museum, Gangarama, Wolvendal church are some of the famous land marks in the city.
Well known Traveler called Ibn Batuta referred the city as Kalanpu, as per the historical evidences, he had been here in the 14th century. In the 8th, 9th, 10th centuries Arabian traders were having the monopoly over the spice trade in the southern Asia and Arab Muslim traders started making Arabian settlements in the city, which helps them with trade between Sinhalese rulers and the countries outside. Moors is the ethnic group, which represents the Arabian traders in the country. Majority of the population in the city is Sinhalese and follows by Tamils and Muslims.
Colombo Attractions and Places to visit
Fort, as the name suggest this area had been used as a Fort during the Portuguese and Dutch colonial Period. The Fort or Colombo 1 is the busiest part of the city where the most of the trading activities taking place. Most of the hotels, airline offices, immigration, main railway station, central bus stand, banks, main post office, travel agents and immigration office. Most of touristís attraction in the fort can be reaching by foot or tuktuk.
Next to the Fort is Bazar region known as pettah and another very busy area of the City. Pettah is demarcated in to different areas depending on the products for example textile area, Electronic items, Ayurvedic products, Jewelleries etc.
Pettah offers the widest range of products at one place in the whole country. Thousand of shops and stalls in the Pettah offer you the best quality products as well as the cheapest quality products. One needs to be smart to choose the best product for an affordable price. With smart bargain one can get the best prices for wide range of products from Garments, printed cloths, suits, undergarments, Kids garments, books, shoes, bags, electrical items, Jewelry and house hold items .
Galle Face: This had been a well known Race course during the British colonial period in the country. This race course which located bordering the Indian Ocean had to be abandoned later on due to the Sea crabs, which are making holes in the track. Afterward it was developed as a promenade for the city dwellers and named as Galle face green. Today Galle face green contains an open theatre, spacious open space for picnic, sports and walking.
Buddhist temple kelaniya: It is considered to be one of the most sacred places in the country. Temple is one of the three places where Buddha visited in the 6th century B.C. well known Kelaniya dagoba is located within the border of the temple. Kalyani River, which flows next to the temple, adds more value for the scenic beauty of the temple. This temple holds reputation for its attractive wall, which considered being the best painting of the modern Era.
Dehiwala Zoo: is started as an animal collection point by an animal trader from Germany. Initially it was a five acre land where the animals being held before the export and land area was increased to 11 acres in order to hold the increasing number of animals. Animal collection centre was taken over by the government in 1963 and gradually increased the land area up to 23 acres. Dehiwala Zoo is one of the most beautiful zoos in the Asia with a wide range of animals from over the world.
Museum of Colombo: One of the most visited places in the city with a large collection of books, Ola manuscripts, Sculptures from archeological sites, bronze wear, Brass wear, Porcelain wear, masks and beautiful paintings. The uniform of the King Sri Wikrama Rajasinghe (last king of the ancient Sri lanka ) with the sword made of gold are also to be found among the valuable exhibits.
The Viharamahadevi Park: is located in the Colombo 7 or Cinnamon gardens. It is the largest and most popular park in the city. It is believed that there had been a twenty square kilometer cinnamon plantation in the area. Today most of the palaces of wealthy people can be seen in the area and Colombo 7 is the most picturesque part of the city.
Dutch Church: The Wolvendaal church is located In Fort and walking distance from the center of the city. It has a large collection of tombstones of important Dutch personalities. Fort is made in the highest point of the city and dates back to 1813. The church is built in the doricstyle of the period. In the form of Greek cross, with five feet thick walls and the gables raised over. The transepts are roofed with brick barrel arches and a centre dome.
Clock tower: Clock tower can be found near the old parliament of Colombo. Initially the tower was erected in 1857 after a plan of Lady Ward and ten years later it was turned to a light house and served the ships in the sea till the 1960’s, before the constructions of new tower. With the installation of Clock in the new tower it has become the first tower in the region which serves as a clock tower as well as a light house. Light house is situated at the end of the Chatham Street near the president’s house.
Green Path open Art Gallery: 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. Most of the artists are from the University of Aesthetic Studies. All artists show their excellence in portraiture, figure drawing and scenes draw from life to arrest the attention of the visitors. The display is on only on Saturday and Sunday.
Zoological Gardens: 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.
Bauddhaloka Buddha Image: Facing the Bandaranayke Memorial International Conference Hall stands a beautiful executed statue of the Buddha in the standing posture. 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 Kalawewa Anurdhapura.
National Museum: National Museum is one of the most beautiful buildings in the Colombo city. One of the inheritances from the Colonial period, which had been the living quarters of prominent colonial servant. Built in 1877, is a treasure trove of articles depicting Sri Lankaís historical and cultural past and present including regalia of the last king.