Negombo, The Small town by the water

Negombo

Smell the warm salt water of Indian Ocean while enjoying a glass of wine and cigar.

Location

Negombo is one of the most popular places of attractions and a beach resort on the west coast of Sri Lanka. The conveniently located resort provides easy access to the International airport of Sri Lanka. Negombo can be used for a relaxing beach holiday even for a short period of stay on the island. Maximum travelling time from Airport to Negombo does not exceed 30 minutes.

Due to the unique Geographical location, the city is gifted with many natural resources such as beautiful sandy beaches, a lagoon, mangrove forest and Coconut plantations. Negombo is spreading along the west coast of Sri Lanka, therefore fisheries sector is considered as an important income for the people in the region. Negombo lagoon with a number of islands provides a good source of fish such as crabs and prawns. The lagoon of Negombo is an important wetland in the country where the muddy water is grown with various species of mangroves.

Tourism

Second most important income for the city is Tourism industry and Negombo attracts hundreds of thousands of tourists every year. There is a large number of hotels in the city representing all categories of accommodations. One can find super luxury accommodation as well as a very basic room to stay in. Negombo equipped with all the facilities for tourists such as vine and dine, water sports, recreation facilities, accommodation, excursions, multi-day round tours etc.

History of Negombo

Today the city is ranked among the most populated cities in the country. Beginning of Negombo is going back to the Portuguese colonial era. Portuguese used it as the hub of their cinnamon trade in the 16th century and the city was protected by a fort. Cinnamon Canal that still serves the people in the area was built by Dutch after expelling the Portuguese from the island. The canal was used in 17th century for transport purposes between Colombo and Puttalam.

places to visit in Negombo

Henarathgoda Botanical Gardens

Sri Lanka boasts to have three picturesque botanical gardens namely Peradeniya botanical gardens, Haggala botanical gardens and Henarathgoda botanical gardens. Henarathgoda botanical garden is located near Colombo and only one hour drive from the city. It was established in 1876; initially, the botanical garden was used as the research ground for rubber cultivation.  Some of the rubber trees planted early days can still be seen here. Henarathgoda botanical garden is situated near the city of Gampaha and surrounded by beautiful countryside. Today it is not only a botanical garden but also a picnic ground for people in the area. Today it has a large collection of flowering plants and the gardens is properly landscaped and maintained to attract visitors.

Negombo Beach

Negombo beach is the nearest beach holiday destination of Bandaranayake international airport. It is located about 4 km north of Colombo and it is just 10 km from the international airport. Negombo beaches attract a large number of sun worshippers from abroad especially during the winter season of the northern hemisphere. Therefore, Negombo is well developed for the tourism industry and it provides all facilities and amenities for visitors. Negombo is suitable not only for budget travellers but also for upmarket rich clientele. Negombo beaches are very suitable for people who like to enjoy the pristine Sri Lankan beaches within a short period of stay in the country.

Muthurajawela Wet Land

Muthuragawela wetland is one of the most important tracts of land reserved for wildlife in the most populated region of the country (western province). Part of Muthurajawela is under the purview of the government and serves as the flood water controlling ground. Muthurajawela absorbs a large amount of water during the rainy season, stopping the risk of flooding in the surrounding area. Being a wetland, Muthurajawela is a home for a large number of animal, bird, vertebrates, insects and fish species. it is one of the best places in Colombo to observe crocodiles. Other than the interesting fauna Muthurajawela is very rich of various species of flora as well. Muthurajawela is ranked among the best places to see different species of mangroves on the island.

Negombo Fish Market

Negombo is primarily a fishing village and most important income earner for the people in the area. About, one in every ten people is engaged in the fishing industry. Negombo fish market is a popular attraction for visitors in Negombo. It should be visited early in the morning in order to witness the market at its best activity. It can be very interesting to see a large amount of fresh fish being sold in the auction. It is one of the few absolutely natural and authentic attractions in Negombo. Be prepared to tolerate a walk on the mud, blood and the smell of fish.

Dutch canal

Boating is one of the most important transport methods in the island during the Dutch colonial era. Dutch canal is a reminiscing of the large network of canals established by the Dutch colonial rulers in the country. Earlier it was very useful for transporting goods to Negombo from North-West Sri Lanka. One of the main cinnamon storage of Dutch rulers was located in Negombo. Therefore the Dutch administration was in need of a supply route from North-West Sri Lanka to Negombo and built the Dutch canal along the sea border. This 100km canal runs through the cities, forests and beautiful villages allowing the passengers to enjoy beautiful sceneries.

Dutch fort

The fort was first built by Portuguese in order to guard an access point to the interior of Sri Lanka from the maritime region of the west coast. The fort was later occupied by Dutch colonial rulers and enlarged as well as equipped with the sophisticated armoury. Since Negombo had been a centre of controlling and trading of Cinnamon, Dutch administration was in need of strong security measures in order to secure their profit through the cinnamon trade. The present fort was built in 1600 by the Dutch East India Company. The fort was largely neglected by the British administration and partly demolished by the same administration.

St Mary’s Church of Duwa

Situated at the western borders of Negombo the St Mary’s Church of Duwa standing squat and square by the edge of the Indian Ocean. A road leads the devotees straight to the church. The road is pouring with devotees in the months of March-April every year, due to the annual feast of the Church.

Negombo is predominantly a fishing village, where the majority of about 150,000 people are Roman Catholics. These people are mainly living on deep sea fishing or off-shore fishing and marketing their catch, drying some of it. Even though Negombo is a fishing village northern end of Negombo has become a popular a beach holiday destination in recent time, where a large number of luxury hotels accommodating hundreds of thousands of tourists every year.

During the forty days of Lent, Duwa comes to live with excitement and devotion. It is the time for passion play and nothing is more important in the calendar or taken more seriously by every man, woman and child in the surrounding area. Thousands of devotees are gathering to Duwa in the Holy week, prior to Easter. But every Friday in Lent is also a day of pilgrimage to Duwa.

Present St Mary’s Church of Duwa dates back to 1886, but the site is far older than that. According to the villagers the first Church was constructed by Portuguese in the 16th century. it was a sight of veneration since the beginning of the temple. Inside the church is a huge crucifix, which is carefully preserved in a case and taken out only during the Lent. During the last week of Lent or holiest week, before the passion play, it is displayed for the devotees, day and night.

There is one interesting story behind the crucifix. According to what the fishermen reveal, they were in a profitable business by selling salted and dried fish to customers from Cochin. The sellers and buyers were meeting in Colombo at the Grand Pass Bazaar. There they came to know a person from Cochin, who was very skilled at creating wooden sculptures. Then the people of Duwa placed an order by him for a massive (life-like) Crucifix. The second order made to get a massive statue of the Virgin Mary.

As both crucifix and statue of Mary were ready to deliver, it was shipped to Sri Lanka.  But the great storm was hampering the journey and the ship was about to sink. Most cargoes were washed off to the sea and the sailors were helpless at the wrath of the sea. Then the sailors and passengers were resorting to the only option, they knelt down and prayed for deliverance and safe passage. The storm miraculously subsided as they prayed to enable them to sail safely to Sri Lanka. Thus the great crucifix became an object of veneration and saviour of fisherman in all difficult situations. It is the same crucifix being venerated even today at the St Mary’s Church of Duwa.

Posted by

Sanjeewa Padmal (Seerendipity tours)

This blog is all about travelling in Sri Lanka, I am trying to illuminate my readers with a wide range of information related to Sri Lanka travel. Please feel free to contact me at any time if you need more information. Furthermore, we can organize your holiday package or any travel related requirement in Sri Lanka. Please contact us on info@seerendipitytours.com

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