Sri Lanka

Colombo: The Capital Of Sri Lanka

By Vacation India
A line of Buddha statues on the lake side of the Gangaramaya Temple in Colombo, Sri Lanka © Tarzan9280

Colombo: The Capital Of Sri Lanka

The Colonial Capital


At first glance Colombo seems chaotic and crowded, but just under the surface lies a wealth of historical sites and stimulating cultures. This interesting medley of the ancient and modernity is a worthy showcase for Sri Lanka’s progressive and diverse nature.

Starting off as a tiny trading port used predominantly by Muslim mariners in the eighth century, Colombo was slow to leave its mark on the island. Only after Europeans set food on Sri Lankan soil in the 1500’s did the city emerged from the shadows to claim its rightful place in Sri Lankan history.

A typical busy street near the Pettah, also called the Manning Market in the Pettah district of Colombo, Sri Lanka © Photoaliona

When the Portuguese arrived in 1517, they promptly marked their territory by constructing a fort. The Dutch was next in line, and added further fortifications. The latter also built new neighborhoods and a comprehensive canal system to serve the adolescent town. However, it was only after British occupation that the town grew into adulthood. Improvements turned the small port into Sri Lanka’s main harbor and an indispensable stepping stone for seafarers on the Indian Ocean trading routes. Colombo became the island’s capital in 1815, although Sri Jayewardenepura Kotte, a Colombian suburb southeast of the city center was declared the political and legislative capital in 1982. More than three million people live in Colombo, making it the commercial center, as well as the largest metropolitan hub on the island. New, modern developments are constantly transforming the city center, sometimes beyond recognition. After the devastation of the war, the Fort region has seen extensive restoration and rejuvenation. Galle Face Green is dwarfed by more and more skyscrapers every year and Slave Island now sports South Asia’s tallest building, the Lotus Tower.

Two members of the Sri Lankan police force on duty in Colombo © Bethwolff43

The Colonial Capital

Colombo has a character all of its own. Not only is it by far the largest city in Sri Lanka, its relatively young age and distinctive colonial identity makes it unique and different from the rest of the country. Of overriding traditional Sinhalese morals and values, and Buddhist norms there are little, if any visible signs. The city’s inhabitants are a mix match of many cultures, with Muslim and Tamil communities rubbing shoulder with expats and burghers. Churches, Hindu temples and mosques are equally in equal supply to stupa and statues of the Buddha. Walk around in any of the middle or upper class neighborhoods and you will hear conversations in English, Tamil and Sinhala in equal measure.

While the rest of the island’s towns are more conservative in outlook, Colombo is embracing a more modern vision. It is an ever changing receptacle of contemporary, modern day Sri Lankan life, constantly watching the trends governing the rest of the world, with the result that the latest fashions and trends are seen in stores long before making their appearance in the rest of the country, if ever.

A crowded market hall in Colombo, capital city of Sri Lanka © Kulicki

A Sinhalese woman deep in prayer at a temple in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Buddhism is the major religion in the country © Ertyo 5

A tropical fruit vendor transports his fresh produce to a street stall by boat, Colombo © Ertyo Should this be Ertyo 5?

Colombo’s former harness racecourse in Cinnamon Gardens was redeveloped and modernized into a sports complex in 2012 © Proxyminder

A fruit vendor at his street stand prepares his customer’s cocoa drink, Colombo © Dymov

Two policemen on duty at the railway station in Colombo. Many commuter and inter-city trains enter the station each day © Paulprescott72

A devotee worshipping at a temple in Colombo, Sri Lanka © Laughingmango

Worshippers burn incense and offer flowers to their deity in a shrine in Colombo. Incense, flowers and candles play an important part in the religious rituals of both Buddhists and Hindus © Ertyo5

Worshippers dressed in white line up to light candles in a Colombo temple, Sri Lanka © Dmitry_chulov

During Colombo’s popular annual Kite Festival prices are awarded for the most innovative kites, the longest kites, and many more © Binuri Ranasinghe

Pathirakali Amman is a Hindu Temple Complex in Trincomalee, Colombo, and a fine example of the classical Dravidian style of architecture © Heckepics

A wagon with shoes for sale in front of Gangarama, one of the oldest Buddhist temples in Colombo © Judy Dillon I am not sure if this is correct. I could only find the Gangaramaya Temple

Frieze with a statue of the Buddha at the Gangaramaya Temple in Colombo. The temple is famous for its interesting mixture of architectural styles including Sinhalese, Thai, Chinese and Indian © Heckepics

A small family seen through the window of a train coach. Trains from Colombo connect to almost everywhere in Sri Lanka © Tarzan9280

Fort Railway Station, dating back to 1877, is the busiest of the capital’s three train stations © Joel Carillet

A street stall selling king coconuts which are native to Sri Lanka. They contain less sugar and is a popular everyday thirst quencher for Sri Lankans © Efesenko

Fast food on sale from a street vendor in Colombo. Sri Lanka has a rich cuisine of seafood including lobsters, prawns, oysters, crabs and many species of fish © Naumoid

On a normal workday in the commercial area of Colombo the streets are packed with cars, buses, tuk-tuks and motorbikes © Alexey_Arz

Dancers form large rings of fire during their performance, Colombo, Sri Lanka. These traditional Fire Dances or Pandam Paliya were originally performed to scare away evil spirits that caused fear, illness and anxiety © Binuri Ranasinghe

A swirl of movement and color during traditional dances performed in Colombo, Sri Lanka © Indrajith Embuldeniya

Street vendors exhibit their ripe and unripe bananas. Sri Lanka has 29 varieties of bananas, many of them indigenous to the country © Efesenko

A train follows the scenic route through the hills near Nuwara Eliya, heartland of Sri Lanka’s tea plantations © meinzahn

A sign at Colombo’s Fort Railway Station in the heart of the city and close to Colombo Fort, Sri Lanka © Frankvandenbergh

Buddha statue at Seema Malaka Temple on Beira Lake in Colombo. Buddhist and visitors come here mostly for quiet contemplation and meditation © Nilantha Photography

The Colombo skyline seen from the promenade of Galle Face Beach, a 1600 ft./ 500-meter-long urban park that stretches all along the seashore © donyanedomam

Traditional drummers taking part in one of the many religious festivals in Colombo, the capital city of Sri Lanka © Indrajith Embuldeniya

Stalls at the open air market in Pettah, a lively district in Colombo. The variety of items for sale is mind boggling and ranges from electronics to fashion accessories and fresh fruit and vegetables © Efesenko

Passengers scramble for a place on the train during a strike by transport workers in Sri Lanka © Binuri Ranasinhge

Colombo’s Red Mosque with its unusual color patterns was built in just one year and has a capacity of 10,000 worshippers © Heckepics

Auto rickshaws are a popular means of transport as they provide essential and affordable transport. It is estimated that there are more than one million tuk-tuks in the country © Alxpin

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