Colombo

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Colombo is the largest city and the financial and commercial capital of Sri Lanka. It is also the capital of Western Province, one of nine provinces in Sri Lanka.

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  • Metropolis over 100 hotels
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Points of Interest

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  • Casino Casino
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  • Education Education
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  • Golf course Golf course
  • Green space Green space
  • Harbor Harbor
  • Historic site Historic site
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  • Medical Medical
  • Monument Monument
  • Museum Museum
  • Shopping Shopping
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  • Sports facility Sports facility
  • Theater Theater
  • Winery Winery

Points of Interest in Colombo

Holy Places

  • Basilica of Our Lady of Lanka, Tewatte,Ragama suburb of Colombo. It is a Roman Catholic church with basilica status. The church is home to the venerated statue of Our Lady of Lanka.
  • St Luke's Anglican Church, Borella district of Colombo-8.. The church plays an important role within the history of the Church Missionary Society on the island.
  • St Michael and All Angels Anglican Church, Polwatte (159, St. Michael’s Road, Colombo 3). It was dedicated on the 29th of September 1887 and is a landmark in Kollupitiya, a suburb of Colombo, the commercial capital of Sri Lanka. A magnificent building of stone, mortar and wood, it stands as a testimony to its rich history of prayer, worship and mission.
  • St. Andrew's Scots Kirk church, No. 73, Galle Road, Colombo 3. It was founded in the late 19th century, and prospered during the colonial and post-colonial periods, it was a center for the Scots element in Colombo, the capital city of what was then Ceylon.
  • St. Lucia's Cathedral, Kotahena, in the north east of Colombo. is the seat of the archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Colombo in Sri Lanka.
  • St. Paul's Church (1853), Milagiriya district, Colombo. It is one of the oldest churches in Sri Lanka. - The church was first built by the Portuguese as a Roman Catholic place of worship and was known as Nossa Senhora dos Milagres
  • Buddha Jayanthi Chaithya stupa, Colombo Harbour. A Buddhist shrine, built with reinforced concrete.
  • Gangaramaya Temple, 61, Sri Jinarathana Road, Colombo 2. is one of the most important temples in Colombo, - The temple's architecture demonstrates an eclectic mix of Sri Lankan, Thai, Indian, and Chinese architecture
  • Sri Bala Selva Vinayagar hindu temple, - in Colombo 10. Devoted to Shiva and Ganesh.
  • Sri Muthumariamman hindu temple in Colombo 13
  • Shiva Subramania Swami temple on Slave Island
  • Sri Ponnambalam-Vaneswaram temple, in Koch-chikade, three km north of Fort.
  • Kalani Raja Maha Viharaya. Located about 9 km away from Colombo, the Kelaniya Raja Maha Viharaya is one of the most significant Buddhist temples in Sri Lanka. The temple had been built more than 2000 years ago and contains images of reclining and preaching Buddha along with frescoes depicting incidents from his life.
  • Memm Harnafi mosque found at Dr C.W.W Kannangara Mawatha, grey colour.
  • Church of St. Anthony is situated beside the sea where Sea Street and St. Anthony’s Mawatha meet.
  • Jami-Ul-Alfar Mosque, Second Cross Street in Pettah. It is a historic mosque. The mosque is a popular tourist site in the city. - Jami-Ul-Alfar Mosque was built in 1909 by the Pettah Muslim community to fulfill their required five-times-daily prayer and Jummah on Fridays. It is one of the oldest mosques in Colombo.
  • Victoria Masonic Temple, Galle Face, Colombo 03. It is the meeting place for the Masonic Lodges. It was built in 1901 during British rule. It was designed by E. Skinner, an associate of the Royal Institute of British Architects, and built by the Colombo Commercial Company. The building was built in neo-Georgian style mixed with elements of Eastern architecture.
  • Wolvendaal church. 363, Galle Road, Colombo 06. - One of the oldest churches built during the Dutch era in 1749. The interior is decorated with Dutch furniture with the wooden carved pews, chairs, pulpit and lecterns.

Museums

  • The National Museum of Colombo, Cinnamon Gardens, Colombo 7,  11 269-4767, e-mail: ranjith.s.hewage@yahoo.com. Sat-Thu.: 9AM-5PM.. Department of National Museums. Also known as the Sri Lanka National Museum, it is the largest museum in Colombo. Among its exhibits, it contains regalia of the 17th century Kandyan Kings. Child 300, Adult: 500 Rs. (2013).
  • The Natural History Museum, Sir Marcus Fernando Mawatha, Cinnamon Gardens, Colombo 7,  11 269-1399. Closed Fridays and all public holidays. 9AM-5PM.. This museum features Sri Lanka's floral and fauna in dioramas. Child 150, Adult: 300 Rs..
  • The Dutch Period Museum, 95 Prince Street, Colombo 01,  11 244-8466. Sat-Thu.: 9AM-5PM.. Historical museum documenting Dutch colonial rule in Sri Lanka. Houses Dutch-inspired artifacts. Child 300, Adult: 500 Rs. (2013).
  • Independence Memorial Hall ((also Independence Commemoration Hall)), Independence Square (formally Torrington Square) (Cinnamon Gardens). 9AM-5PM.. is a national monument in Sri Lanka built for commemoration of the independence of Sri Lanka from the British rule with the establishment of Dominion of Ceylon on February 4, 1948. It also houses the Independence Memorial Museum. Child 150, Adult: 300 Rs. (2013).
  • Central Bank Currency Museum, 58, Sri Jayawardhanapura Mawatha, Rajagiriya. from 8.30 am to 4.00 pm. Monday to Friday on all working days except public and bank holidays. Established on 20 April 1982 at the Central Bank Head Office in Colombo Fort. The museum is open to the general public. - The Central Bank Currency Museum traces the history of the usage of coins and notes in Sri Lanka from 3 BC to date and has on display a large number of ancient coins and notes which were used in the country dating back from 3 BC. Foreign coins and notes received from other Central Banks are also on display at the museum free.

Galleries

  • The Sapumal Foundation, 32/4 Barnes Place,  11 269-5731. Colombo 7. The Sapumal Foundation was once home to the late Harry Pieris. Visitors are able to see his studio and art materials that have been left undisturbed over the years. This gallery also contains 200 paintings that follow the development of Sri Lankan art. Special art classes are also available at the gallery.
  • The Lionel Wendt Memorial Art Center 11 269-5794. 18 Guilford Crescent, Colombo 7. M-F 9AM-1PM and 2-4PM. The Art Center provides a multi-functional creative experience with exhibitions, art shows and stage events. Visitors to the Art Center area also able to purchase various antiques as well as paintings and crafts by contemporary Sri Lankan artists.

Mansions

  • Alfred House, Thurstan Road.
  • Clare House
  • India House. The official residence in Colombo for the Indian High Commissioner in Sri Lanka. Built in 1926-27 for the Imperial Bank of India and taken over by the Government of India in 1956. It is a colonial style villa/bungalow, with large gardens located along Thurstan Road. It is guarded by personnel from the Border Security Force.
  • Jefferson House, is the ambassadorial residence in Colombo for the Ambassador of the United States in Sri Lanka. It was built in 1914 in the Cinnamon Gardens a suburb of Colombo
  • Lakshmigiri Mansion or Saifee Villa is a bungalow at 102, Thurstan Road in Colombo.
  • Modera House. A large bungalow. A 19th century stately home, located in Mutwal north of Colombo. Now it is part of the De La Salle College.
  • Morven Mansion
  • Saravasti Mansion
  • Storm Lodge. A mansion, owned by the Colombo Swimming Club, 142 Galle Road, Colombo-03.
  • Rock House Colonial era Mansion
  • Sirimathipaya Mansion
  • The Lighthouse. A large bungalow. Owned by the Sri Lankan Government and houses the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute of International Relations and Strategic Studies. - located in the Cinnamon Gardens a suburb of Colombo, it was built by D. Peiris.
  • Whist Bungalow or Pradeepa Hall a large bungalow. A 19th century stately home modeled on Neoclassical style, located in Mutwal north of Colombo on the cost where the Kelani River used to meet the Indian Ocean. It is now used as a reception hall for weddings.
  • Winyatts Mansion

National Art Gallery

Dutch Hospital

Colombo World Trade Center

Beira Lake

Bank of Ceylon Tower

Gangaramaya Temple

Galle Face Green

Colombo Town Hall

Khan Clock Tower

University of Colombo

Sri Lanka National Museum

Pettah Market

Jami Ul-Alfar Mosque

Sinhalese Sports Club

R. Premadasa Stadium

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About Colombo

Background

Colombo is the commercial and financial capital of Sri Lanka after the administrative capital was moved to Sri Jayawardenapura Kotte, a suburb east of the city. "Colombo" could refer to either the city proper, or to Greater Colombo that includes the areas of Sri Jayawardenapura Kotte and Dehiwala-Mount Lavinia.

Weather wise, the best time to visit is during the North East monsoon season, which is November to April.

Activities

  • Galle Face Green Promenade, Galle Road, Colombo 03. Visit at sundown for a spectacular view. The half kilometre long promenade stretches 13 acres between Galle Road and the Indian Ocean; it tends to attract children, teenagers, vendors, lovers, kite flyers, merrymakers, and families. Usually on Saturday and Sunday evenings, the land is filled with day-trippers, food vendors, and people picnicking which make it very crowded. The Galle Face Green Promenade was reopened to the public in May of 2001. It is also the only largest open space in the city. Free.
  • Colombo Zoological Gardens, Anagarika Dharmapala Mawatha, Dehiwala (By Bus: From Colombo port, No. 101 stops at Dehiwala junction, and get the Bus No. 176 or 118. - By Train: get to Dehiwala station which near station to Colombo zoo and get Bus No. 176 or 118.), e-mail: zoosl@slt.lk. 08:30–18:00 hrs, every day. Colombo's zoo has a wide variety of animals, birds, and reptiles from all over the world. See lion show Everyday 4.00PM – 4.15PM. - Elephant Show Everyday 4.30PM – 4.55PM For overseas Visitors Adult - Rs. 2000, Children - Rs. 1000, For Video Cameras - Rs. 500, Other Fees: Elephant Ride Adult - Rs. 200, Children - Rs. 100, Pony Ride Children(Under 12) - Rs. 25.
  • Casa Serena Art Gallery, 122 Havelock Roa, Colombo 5,  +94 (0)11 2587440. Tue-Sat 10AM-6PM and M-1PM to 6PM. The Gallery is a purpose built space, designed to exhibit a diverse array of art, photography, sculpture, video installations and craft. It focuses on contemporary and traditional arts and features the work of local and international artists.
  • Viharamahadevi Park or formally known as the Victoria park, Cinnamon Gardens. It is the largest, oldest and most colorful park situated in the heart of Colombo, just opposite the colonial style Town Hall building.
  • Attidiya Bird Sanctuary (9km towards the south west of the city). A beautiful marshland. The wet land is rich with natural biodiversity and is a resting place for many types of birds. - The vegetation of this wetland is dominated by sedge and grasses including Rhyuchospora rubra and Panicum repens. Around 43 species of waterfowls live in the area. Most common among them are Indian Shag (Phalaerocorox fuscicollis), the Blue breasted Banded Rail ( Rallus striatus) etc. If you are an enthusiastic bird watcher or an eco friend, then it is worthwhile to spend sometimes in the Attidiya bird sanctuary during one of your leisurely evenings during your stay in Colombo
  • Colombo Planetarium, Bauddhaloka Mawatha, Colombo 7. Established in 1965. English shows on the last Saturday of the month at 2.00pm.
  • Gordon Gardens. About 16,000 m2. The Gardens boast of an amazing variety of trees.
  • Colombo Racecourse, Cinnamon Gardens, Philip Gunewardena Mawatha, Colombo 07. In 2012 it was redeveloped as the Colombo Racecourse Sports Complex to become the first International Rugby Union ground in Sri Lanka to host all the national rugby union sides home macthes.
  • Ceylonese Rugby & Football Club Grounds, Malalasekara Mawatha, Colombo 07.
  • Sri Lanka Foundation Mawatha, Off Independance Avenue, Colombo 07Royal College Sports Complex.
  • Royal Colombo Golf Club, 223, Model Farm Road, Colombo 08.
  • Sugathadasa Stadium, Arthur de Silva Mawatha or Prince of Wales Ave, Colombo 14.
  • Colombo Cricket Club Ground (CCCG; Sinhala: කොළඹ ක්‍රිකට් සමාජ ක්‍රීඩාංගනය, Tamil: கொலோம்போ கிரிக்கெட் கிளப் கிரௌண்ட்), Maitland Crescent.

Food

  • Hansa Sri Lanka Speciality Coffee (Hansa coffee), 24 Fife Road, Colombo 5 (off Thimbirigasyaya Road,),  0773116579. 9AM-8PM. An exceptional gourmet coffee, made from Sri Lanka coffee beans. The coffee can be purchased at several stores including supermarkets and is served in hotels and cafes throughout the island. Their retail outlet is at 24 Fife Road, Colombo 5, where they also serve several coffee drinks. Telephone: 0773116579.

Budget

Enjoy a steaming cup of coffee and some goodies for lunch at D'Cafe at No. 15A, Cambridge Place, Colombo 7.

Buy a "lunch packet" from street stands practically anywhere in the city. Typically, it will be a filling meal of rice and vegetables for about Rs 120.

Also available everywhere are small bakeries selling rotis (either flat or folded into triangles filled with egg, vegetable or fish), hoppers (bowl shaped pancakes made with coconut milk), and other "short eats" (bread based snacks or fried foods). The price of individual items range from Rs. 10-50.

Mid-range

  • The Cricket Club Cafe, 34 Queens Road. Kollupitiya, Colombo 03. This cafe is a must for any cricket lover. The walls are covered in autographed memorabilia and photos with sports (usually cricket) being screened on all the TVs scattered throughout the rooms. They serve authentic Aussie cuisine and a wide variety of drinks The Bar is named after Donald Bradman.
  • The Gallery Cafe, 2 Alfred House Road. Off Alfred House Gardens, Kollupitiya, Colombo 3. Wonderful atmosphere in beautiful building - designed by famous Sri Lankan architect Geoffrey Bawa. Large food menu featuring many international dishes, decadent desserts and extensive cocktail menu.
  • The Lagoon, The Cinnamon Grand Hotel, 77 Galle Road, Kollupitiya, Colombo 03,  +94 11 243-7437. 12-2:30PM, 7PM-12:30AM. This restaurant focuses primarily on seafood with colorful Sri Lankan flavors. The friendly, professional staff are able to create an enjoyable dining experience. Full meal: 4000 Rs. per person.
  • Mango Tree, 82 Dharmapala Mawatha, Kollupitiya, Colombo 03,  +94 11 537-9790, 11 537-9791, e-mail: info@themangotree.lk. 12–3PM; 7–11PM, 7 days a week. One of the finest restaurants in the city. North Indian Cuisine, full of innovative dishes. Service is occasionally slow. Full meal: 1000 Rs. per person.
  • The Palmyrah Restaurant, 328 Galle Road. Kollupitiya, Colombo 3. Serves excellent Sri Lankan dishes as well as having an "international" menu.
  • Roadhouse Cafe, 335 Galle Road. Kollupitiya, Colombo 3. Serves Sri Lankan and Western food. Meals range from 180 Rs. - 380 Rs. The food is excellent, but the service is a little slow. Try the mango milkshakes or one of their specialty coffees.
  • 168 Seafood Palace, just off Galle Road, near Hotel Renuka, Kollupitiya, Colombo 3. Serves excellent Chinese food and seafood dishes. Prices start at 250 Rs. but some prices depend on weight (e.g. crabs). The service is very good.
  • UK Urban Kitchen, Arpico Super Center, 69 Hyde Park Corner, Union Place, Colombo 2. Serves Western, Asian and Middle Eastern cuisines at relatively reasonable prices. Also specializes in wood-fired pizzas and coffee. Next to Arpico supermarket. Open M-Th 10AM-10PM, F-Su 10AM-11PM. Telephone 94 11 7219169.

Splurge

  • Nihonbashi Main Restaurant, 11 Galle Face Terrace, Kollupitiya, Colombo 3. There are three Nihonbashi outlets in Colombo. A Sushi Bar at ODEL and a outlet at the Hilton Colombo Residence are the other two. The main restaurant is an airy and spacious restaurant with a blend of modern and traditional in design consisting of 8 private dining rooms also a dine-in wine room. Nihonbashi is owned and run by Tokyo-born Dharshan Munidasa, a self-taught chef.
  • Spoons, Colombo Hilton, Echelon Square, Fort, Colombo 1. Spoons is the flagship restaurant of the Hilton Hotel. It has a show kitchen, and an impressive collection of wine and chocolates.
  • Ginza Hohsen, Colombo Hilton, Echelon Square, Fort, Colombo 1. This is one of the Japanese restaurants in Colombo. They have a sushi bar, the tatami rooms and ever teppanyaki.
  • Chesa Swiss, 3 Deal Place. Kollupitiya, Colombo 3. Representing the best of Swiss cuisine, this restaurant has all your favorites from fresh garden snails to Chateaubriand for two to steak Café de Paris style! The wine list is exclusively Swiss.
  • The London Grill, Cinnamon Grand Hotel, Galle Face, Colombo 3. As the name suggests this restaurant is very British. It probably has the best ambiance of all, and the food is just great.
  • California Grill, Galadari Hotel, Fort, Colombo 01. This is a fine dining restaurant on the rooftop level of the hotel. It offers panoramic views of the Galle Face marina. The food, mostly US-style grills and premium seafood, is excellent too.
  • Royal Thai, 115 Sir Chittampalam A. Gardiner Mawatha,Slave Island, Colombo 02. Located at the Cinnamon Lakeside Hotel (refurbished and rebranded September 2009), is an authentic Thai restaurant hosting the usual favorites, such as Tom Yam and Chicken Pandan leaves.Although eating cow in India is rude here its polite

Drinks

  • Thembili තැබිලි (Orange Coconut juice) is the safest, since they cut it open in front of you (uncontaminated).
  • Spring water with SLS certification are safe to drink.

Mount Lavinia is a great place to be. The beach and the friendly people always draw visitors there and keep them for awhile. Unlike the South of the island, Mt.Lavinia is only abut 20 minutes away from the city and entertains a good deal of nightlife. Along the beach are a variety of restaurants that serve liquor (by restaurants along the beach I mean they are literally ON the beach, 50 feet away from the water and tables on the sand) have great food catered to suit every budget. The variety of the the beach spots themselves are interesting, from nice little coves for a quiet chat a and a drink to well lit, busy places with dance floors, music courtesy of a live DJ and well stocked bars. Try Jo Jo's, a quiet little place where they serve pretty decent food and drink and has a nice homey feel to it.The Owner Mr Jo, Jo, (Mr Nihal) better know, is a nice person. Buba, on the other side of the Mount Lavinia Hotel which divides the public beach is also a cool hang out.

Mount Lavinia also serves as the gay district of Colombo. Although not home to any gay bars, it is a very gay friendly town and always plays host to Colombo's Gay Pride week in June. Do not be surprised if some bars have the rainbow flag flying on the beach.

For those night owl's Colombo's nightlife is on par with most other Asian destinations and feature a number of nightlife establishments, that offer decent music and drinks, served in a pleasant atmosphere. The major hot spots as of July 2011 include Amusuem at the Galle Face Hotel, Kama (near the Ramada Hotel), Silk (near independence Square) and R&B on Duplication Road.

Expect the music to range from 80's retro to modern chart toppers as elegant partygoers dance the night away sipping the poison of their choice. Most clubs shout around 4AM, R&B perhaps a little longer after. Please do not drink and drive, hop a Three wheeler, its easier....

Popular watering holes include Whitehorse (Nawam Mawatha), Inn on the Green (Galle Face Hotel), Rize Bar (Dharmapala Mawatha), Seven Degrees North (Cinnamon Lakeside Hotel) and Cheers (Cinnamon Grand Hotel)

Most nightclubs may charge admission and smart/casual dress is encourages with longs/shoes a must.

After a night out, some people will end with a late night snack, try e.g., Hotel de Pilawoos along the Galle Road in Kollupitiya to enjoy a Chicken Roti (chicken and cheese wrapped in a roti) follwed by an iced Milo (sweet chocolate and malt flavoured drink)

Shopping

  • Barefoot. Handicraft store, 706 Galle Road, Colombo 03, Kollupitiya. Has a wide range of good quality souvenirs and handmade items: clothes, bags, and children toys, from some of the most beautifully-colored fabric you've ever seen.
  • Crescat Boulevard, 89 Galle Rd. Colombo 3, Kollupitiya. An up-market shopping mall. Though it is fairly small, it contains a food court on the basement floor.
  • Lakmedura, 113 Dharmapala Road. Colombo 07, Cinnamon Gardens.
  • Lakpahana, 14 Reid Avenue. Colombo 07, Cinnamon Gardens. A non-profit organization run by the craftsman association of Sri Lanka with assistance from the government. Offers all handicrafts and gemstone jewellery. Unique metalware, wood carvings,silver jewelery,batik,textile products and other crafts. Only member in Sri Lanka of the World Craft Council and winner of several international awards therefore all our products come with an international guarantee.The only place where quality exceeds price.
  • Liberty Plaza RA de Mel Mawatha, Colombo 3, Kollupitiya. Another shopping mall similar to Majestic City however it is smaller in size. You can find various items such as clothing, CDs and DVDs.
  • Majestic City in Kollupitiya on Galle Road has a wide variety of clothing outlets - including a sub-branch of Odel - at very good prices, as well as various electrical goods and toy shops. It's pleasantly air-conditioned and includes a food court on the ground floor.
  • Odel. No 5, Alexandra Place, Colombo 7, Cinnamon Gardens. A stylish department store, with its very own Delifrance outlet, clothing, houseware, sporting goods, books and movies, as well as Delight – for sweet indulgences from chocolates to exotic nuts.
  • Paradise Road – 213, Dharmapala Mawatha, Colombo 7, Cinnamon Gardens. Tel: 268 6043.Open 9AM-7PM. A shop with a small café in a British colonial style building where antiques, home décor items and art can be viewed or purchased.
  • The Pettah Market, this is the place to go for shopping for all kinds of things from fruits to clothes to electronics if you want to buy at wholesale prices. You have to bargain extensively and it is recommended that you take a local you trust along with you. Even if you don't buy anything, Pettah, or Colombo 11 is an experience in itself being a very typical, loud and crowded oriental market place full of all sorts of odds, ends and junk. Each street in the market has its own speciality, for example, in 1st Cross Street you can find electrical items, 2nd Cross Street has jewellery and so on. In the Pettah Market area, some street vendors actively ask passers-by, foreigners and locals to view products they are selling though polite refusal is generally accepted.
  • Casa Serena boutique, 122 Havelock Road, Colombo 5,  +94 (0)11 2587440. Tue-Sat 10AM-6PM and M-1PM to 6PM. The boutique showcases a wide range of traditional and modern creations to enhance the art of living. Some are practical, some are useful, and some are just beautiful souvenirs

This article is based on Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike 3.0 Licensed text from the article Colombo on Wikivoyage.

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