03 January 2011

Sri Lanka- Colombo

Bentota - Colombo
On the way to Colombo, you come across the domed temple at Kalutara which you also come across from Kandy-Bentota.
From Bentota, it'll take you 2 hrs or so to reach Colombo.

Colombo, the administrative centre of this country, is an oft under-rated city. Many people bypass it on the way elsewhere. Fact is, Colombo is a fine city to spend a day or two, enjoying its shopping and sights.

City mapping
Fort, Pettah and Kotahena form the northern-most areas, and all three are of interest to tourists. South of Fort is the seaside Galle Face Green, around Kollupitiya. Many hotels including the Galle Face Hotel, Cinammon Grand and Taj Samudra are located here. East is Cinammon Gardens, home to great shops and is a posh area. There are some areas south, including Wellawatte, Bambalapitiya, and further south to Dehiwala and Mt Lavinia.

Bandaranaike airport is around 30 km north of the city. The domestic airport (Ratmalana Air Force Base) is around Ratmalana, south of the centre.

Colombo has 15 postal area codes, for example, Fort is Colombo 1 (Col 1), Slave Island is Col 2 and Kollupitiya is Col 3.

Buddha statue at Fort; outside the Hilton
You'll see the tall twin towers of the World Trade Centre from many parts of the city. There's great colonial architecture here. But, there's a lot of security around, so don't count on being let to go everywhere in Fort. You'll see many Buddha statues in Colombo, one of the grander ones is just outside the Hilton.
Wolvendaal Church

Pettah has busy market areas. To fully appreciate them, a stroll is recommended in the midst of the hustle and bustle. The great Wolvendaal Church , the most important Dutch building in the country, is located here. The church is built on a cemetery, and some remains of the cemetery can be seen.

Remains of the graveyard at Wolvendaal
St Lucia's Cathedral
The white St Lucia's Cathedral is located here. The cathedral is huge, and quite beautiful from the inside and the outside. It's the biggest church in the country.

KOLLUPITIYA and around
View from Galle Face Green
The not-so-green Galle Face Green is a park, albeit with almost no grass, except in some stretches. Still, it remains a good place to get sea views and enjoy Sri Lankan street food. It's a popular place to fly kites, and they are also sold there. You can also see the World Trade Center from here. There are cannons further north. Popular place for an evening stroll.

There's also a lake called the South Beira Lake around.

World Trade Center, as seen from Galle Face Green
The pleasant Viharamahadevi Park is a nice place to stroll around, with nice, flowering plants and a statue of the Buddha. The Buddha faces the Town Hall on the other side of the road.

The National Museum is located here.

The leafy Independence Sq area is very green, with a statue, and has a temple-like feel, with vast parkland stretching on either side.

The cricket stadium , next to the Sinhala Sports Center has a cricket shop from where you can buy jerseys and other cricket-related mementos. If you aren't seeing a match, you can see a glimpse of the stadium from a break in the wall.

We were staying at the Cinammon Grand in Kollupitiya. The hotel was great with plush rooms. There are two wings, overlooking two different atriums. There are many restaurants in the hotel. Try to choose a higher floor for better views.

There's a Delifrance at Odel in Cinammon Gardens, with fair, average food.

The Veranda Bar at the Galle Face Hotel had some of the worst service I've ever seen. We got drinks within 15 min, but an hour passed, and our food didn't arrive. Told them once, told them twice and told them thrice, and still no food! Finally we left hungry, without receiving any apology. The drinks are fine, though.

The Amrith restaurant in Cinammon Gardens serves fine Indian cuisine. Service isn't bad. The decor is fine. It's in its own building.

The cafe at Barefoot is an OK place to while away time. Low variety, but food is fine. Drinks are fine too, but food takes a long time to arrive at your table...

The food hall at the Crescat Boulevard has good stuff if you want more variety. There's a Keels supermarket  there.

Odel Unlimited at Cinammon Gardens is a good place for clothes and the like. They also have other stuff. It's very close to Viharamahadevi Park.

House of Fashions has some of the best discounts ever seen but there are no trial rooms (!). The surplus real top-end brand stuff is sold at what may seem like dirt. Crowds may be a huge problem, but biilling is really efficient. If you shopped too much, you can also buy suitcases. Good buy: cheap designer surpluses

Barefoot has a collection of clothes, accessories, books and more. Also houses an outdoor cafe (look above). It's on Galle Rd.

Noritake is famous for crockery on Galle Rd. It won't shower too many discounts, but it's worth investigatoing for something that tickles your fancy. On Galle Rd.

Crescat Boulevard Mall is small, but has fine stuff to shop, but not exactly too interesting. There's a food hall downstairs (look above). There's also an Internet cafe.

Paradise Rd has a great variety of local handicrafts and antiques. Look for good Buddhas here.

Laksala in Fort is similar to Paradise Road. Great stuff, especially the collection of Buddhas. Small ones are great, snag at just Rs 90 for one type!

Billing at the last two can be very slow...

More Pictures
Buddha statue at Viharamadevi Park

Expansive parkland around Independence Sq

Town Hall

Tourist Friendliness
Many people at shops, restaurants, hotels etc speak English.

3-wheeler drivers were surprised to see us walking down and you will see few pedestrians in certain areas come dusk. Some areas may be safe at evening even if devoid of any pedestrian but exercise caution anywhere you are alone and ask your accommodation for advice. But much of the centre is safe during daytime. Security in Fort may not let to access some areas, however areas where you can visit in Fort are as safe as anywhere else in the city.

One Day
Visit Fort and Pettah in the morning, visit some of the churches and the street market. Take a stroll by Fort (if allowed by the security) and shop around for souvenirs (Laksala). Later in the afternoon, visit Cinnamon Gardens and check out the Independence Sq and Viharamahadevi Park. In the evening, go to Galle Face Green and do some more souvenir shopping if you want, at Paradise Rd.

Two Days
Check out the sights on Day 1 and leave Day 2 exclusively for shopping. Check out the options above in the "Shopping" section.

Last visit- Dec 2010/Jan 2011
No of visits- 1


johan van impe said...

Nice tshirts at odell got a few already. Bit pricy but what the heck.

johan van impe said...

Keep on , you're doing fine

Ansh Jain said...

thanks johan!!

I found the stuff at odel cheaper than back home, and House of Fashions was even cheaper.

A HK$1890 jeans was bought for me for just SLR 1700!! Surplus clothes!

Peter Holm said...

I found everything in India to be overpriced and of pretty poor quality.
Your blog is nice. Keep it up!

Ansh Jain said...

Hmmm...then you probably looked at the wrong places :).


Achi said...

Hi Ansh where can I buy cheap and best clothes in Bangalore?.I bought some from Preethi mall.Little expensive...

Ansh Jain said...

Hi Achi,

You're looking for branded clothes or unbranded?

For unbranded cheap vareity, look into just any market.

For branded, try shops like Westside, Reliance Trends etc, which are in various malls like Gardua.

Catherine Tramell said...

Hi Ansh

Your Blog is very informative.

Colombo is the city where people prefer grabbing a halt at just to feel an exclusive combine of old and new.

More Colombo related information click here on my blog.