Colombo is Sri Lanka’s most populated city and the hub of Sri Lanka’s economy, the city is one of the most popular cities among the travellers, therefore it has been able to secure its place in most Sri Lanka road trips. A city tour of Colombo usually is a hop-in-hop-off type of short tour and tourists are always in a vehicle as they drive through the city, however, there are few places where the tourist are free to get down to have a closer look into the places, monument such as BMICH, Viharamadevi, Independent square etc. There is an acute shortage of local operators that organize Colombo walking tour and there is a growing demand for free Colombo walking tours.
A large number of travellers send us a lot of email with inquiries for Colombo walking tours, therefore, I thought of dedicating this article for a Colombo walking tour. This Colombo walking tour can be booked with Seerendipity tours; however, the travellers can also do it as a self-guided tour. Using the vehicle you can considerably reduce the time spent on travelling between places and save time to explore monuments. The local tour guide, who is at your disposal during the walking tour, helps you with the information you need.
There are some amazing monuments, gardens, parks, spectacular museums and temples to explore in Colombo. This article is about a Colombo walking tour that lasts 5 hours and covers the most important tourist attraction in the city. The tourists, who take part in this walking tour, walk in the busy shopping areas and Colombo Fort area, while they use the vehicle to reach some other important tourist attractions like Independent square, Cinnamon garden, the floating market that need considerable distance to cover to reach.
Especially the roads and streets are full of shoppers I Pettah and it is very hard to roam around in a vehicle, therefore, Pettah is left out or least explored an area of most Colombo city tours. However, with this Colombo walking tour, you have the opportunity to explore the areas that you can’t reach with the car and study every small detail of the city.
How it works: The tour starts in the busiest part of Colombo, Pettah, where you encounter thousands of shops selling clothes, shoes, leather items and many other things. After exploring Pettah you walk to the Dutch museum, which is one of the oldest buildings in Colombo dating back to 15s and another important tourist attraction with shops and restaurants.
From the Dutch museum you walk to Galle face green via York
street, here you will be able to see many dozens of old building dating back to
many centuries, same times you will encounter many dozens of new high-rise
buildings as you walk along York street. From Galle face green you walk to
Beira Lake and nearby Gamgarama temple, later proceed to Viharamahadevi Park.
This 10 km walk takes around 4 hours and the rest of the city tour is a hop-in-hop-off tour in an air-conditioned modern car.
Few major attraction of Colombo walking tour
1) Pettah, better known as Pita Kotuwa
Pettah is the busiest corner of Colombo and located towards the western border of the city near the harbour and Fort. Pettah is most popular on the island for its market, which has a series of open-air bazaars and markets selling various items from gift items and toys to sovereign gold, Pettah is popular among the people of Sri Lanka as a market to buy good products at a lower cost.
A large number of wholesale and retails shops, restaurants, building, commercial institutions and other organizations are concentrated here. The Pettah market is huge and main segment of the market looks like a gigantic crossword puzzle, where travellers can walk through the entire markets from dawn to dusk, but not completely cover all parts of the market.
Pettah is the English name of the open bazaar that derived from the Tamil word Pettai, which is an Anglo-Indian word indicating the suburb outside of the fort. The same place is named as pita-kotuwa, which is a Sinhalese name also means the area outside of the fort.
2) Viharamahdevi Gardens
Viharamahadvi park former Victoria park of Colombo is an important attraction in the city and which is the most popular and post spacious public part in Colombo. Most Colombo city tours include Viharamahadevi Park and this walking tour also cover the beautiful Viharamahadevi Park. Viharamahadevi Park is situated in the influential resents area Colombo7 and next to Colombo Museum. The park was opened during the British colonial-Era of Sri Lanka and it is the oldest park in Colombo.
In the beginning, the park was called Queen Victoria Park and later renamed as Viharamahadevi Park, the mother of King Dutugamunu. The land that occupies the garden was a gift to the municipal council during the British rule of Sri Lanka it was donated by Charles Henry de Soysa. It was occupied by the British army with Australian 17th Brigade during the world war ll. With the ending of world war ll, it was reopened to the general public in 1951.
It had also been used as cricket gourd in the past (1927)
and served as a venue for first-class cricket, the national team of Sri Lanka played
against a touring English team at Viharamadevi ground in 1927 and against an
Australian team in 1935.
Well maintained and landscaped garden features exquisite lawns, small lakes, fountains, play areas for kids and jogging track. Viharamahdevi jogging track is very popular among the morning joggers, city dwellers and people, who come to Colombo from faraway destination because it is a place to have leisure and rest while enjoying the company of thick tropical vegetation.
Viharamahadevi garden is very spacious; it has a large
collection of tropical trees and plants and they are providing shelter for the
visitors. Viharamahadevi provides permanent residence to variety different bird
species such as kingfisher, parakeet, mynah, Bats and Squirrels. Pay a visit to
this fascinating garden on your walking tour in Colombo.
3) Gangarama temple
Gamgarama Buddhist temple is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Colombo and located near Viharamahadevi Park. The temple is very important and showcases modern architecture and cultural essence; the temple is visited by large number devotees every day.
The beautiful temple has a unique architecture demonstrating an eclectic mix of Indian, Chinese, Thai and Sri Lankan characters. The temple has a large collection of finely crafted Buddha statues and god figures. The precious items are housed in the temple’s museum, where the visitors can see thousands of valuable ancient artefacts, gem-studded Buddha statues, figures made of gold and various other items.
The headquarter of the temple is only 100 meters away from the Beira Lake; even today a part of the temple, which is known as Simamalaka is located on an island in the middle of the lake. Simamalaka is made of wood and designed by the veteran Sri Lankan architecture Geoffrey Bawa.
Even though the temple is located at the heart of Colombo, it spreads over a huge plot of land and has all the elements required by a Buddhist temple such as Stupa (dome-shaped reliquary), sacred Bo-tree (ficus relgiosa), Image house (Vihara ge) and assembly hall for monks. In addition to the above-mentioned building, a three-storied school for monks, educational halls, a museum, a library, and a residential hall can also be found on the premises.
4) Galle Face
Galle Face is one of the most popular parks in Colombo, located adjoining the ocean. The park spreads over a 5 hectares or 12 acres, which stretches about 500 meters and it has about 100 meters of width. This ocean-side open park is located at the heart of Colombo. Galle face was a project initiated Governor Sir Henry George Ward in 1859 and it was spreading over a much large area than today. The Galle face green was used for horse racing at the beginning and it was a multipurpose playground as well and used as the venue for tennis, cricket, golf, rugby and football play.
A large number of city dwellers gather here every day to engage in jogging and other sports, especially in the morning and evening, Galle face green is the largest open area in Colombo today. Galle Face is a popular spot among the kids, teenagers, lovers, vendors, merrymakers, kite surfers, and all those who wish to engage in their past time activities next to the sea under the open sky. On Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays the Galle face green is busy with picnickers, day-trippers, vendors selling various items such as peanuts, deep-fried potatoes, cooked crabs and prawns, fruits with pepper and salt.
5) Independent square
Independent square and the Independent Memorial Hall are included in most Colombo city tours such as Colombo walking tour. It is one of the most popular landmarks in the city, which is a reminiscence of Sri Lanka’s independence from British rule. Next to the Independent memorial hall is the Independence Memorial Museum.
Towards the northern end of the building is the statue of Sri Lanka’s first Prime Minister Hon. Don Stephen Senanayake, who had been a key player of the independence struggle. Independent square had been used as the venue for many independent day celebrations in the past. The building follows the architecture of celebration hall of Kandy better known as “Magul maduwa” , which shows the characteristics of typical Sri Lankan architecture.
6) Wolvendaal Church
Wolvendaal Church (Wolvendaalse Kerk) is one of the most popular monuments built by Dutch East Indian Company of Sri Lanka in 1749. Wolvendaal church sits in Pettah at one of the highest points in the city overlooking the Indian Ocean. It is one of the oldest Dutch built buildings on the island. This protestant church is still in very good shape and few families are still gathering regularly at the church. The church is built after the Doric style of the period, and has the shape of Greek cross (i.e. legs of equal length), with 1.5 meters (five feet) thick massive wall. Large Kabok stones (clay ironstone) had been used to make the structure while the outer layer of the wall is made of coral and lime plaster.
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