How many of us have shown foreigners our country without expecting any favors? I admit, I haven’t till now. But after my recent experience with a travel start up of Sri Lanka, I am determined to take incomers around my country whole heartedly, every time I get a chance.
While planning my trip to Sri lanka, I had planned to see around Colombo only on the last day of my trip thinking it to be just another commercial city of a country. A travel start up, TravelAdvisor SriLanka offered to show me around Colombo but I being on a shoe string budget trip could not opt for their services and had to decline the offer. Sherpa, the beautiful young girl and the co founder of the startup kept mentioning that she is keen to show me her city, Colombo without any charges and also does not expect anything in return. I was a little skeptical initially but thought of atleast meeting her before refusing the offer. Also, I am too naive in the world of blogging to even call it a FAM trip.
To my sheer delight, we were received at Colombo railway station by one of Sherpa’s team mate, Fareed and his gorgeous black vintage car. I immediately was head over heels on mere sight of this black beauty.
Fareed drove us to Gangaramaya Buddhist temple where we met Sherpa and her lovely sister who welcomed us with tokens of love and insisted that they would like to show us around. We couldn’t resist the offer and gladly agreed.
Here’s a list of things to do in Colombo in 1 day:
Gangaramaya Buddhist temple:
It is a bustling temple complex which not only has temple but has a museum, a library and a hall with exorbitantly expensive bejewelled gifts presented by devotees. A life size statue of Elephant Ganga has been placed in the premises to replace the real elephant who had been captive for years in the temple.
The architecture of this Buddhist temple is a beautiful blend of Srilankan, Thai, Indian and Chinese architecture.
This monument was built at the location where the formal ceremony took place to mark the start of the self rule, soon after gaining independence from British rule. This place witnesses the annual National Independence day celebrations every year. It also houses Independence memorial museum. The standing statue is of the first prime minister of the country. It’s quite an important landmark on the map of Colombo.
The oldest and largest public park of Colombo which is situated in front of British era Town Hall building. It houses a huge Buddha statue, series of water fountains, mini zoo and also a children’s play area. It is located at an important location and shares vicinity with Cenotaph War Memorial and Public Library. It’s quite well maintained and a good halt for one to relax and observe locals.
Old Parliament Building
The building is situated in Colombo fort facing the sea. It is in close proximity to the President’s abode and also houses the Presidential Secretariat of Sri Lanka. The front garden hosts a lot of statues of important dignitaries of the country. It is thus quite an iconic place in Colombo.
The Colombo Lighthouse
The lighthouse is a 29 meter tall structure which offers a panoramic view of Indian Ocean and thus is a prominent city landmark. Sri Lankan Navy’s traditional gun salutes take place at its base which interestingly has 4 lion statues guarding the base. The Colombo Lighthouse sports 4 guns which have been given by Britain and India and are now used to fire the gun shots. A lot of history hidden below the lighthouse is ready to be dug up by history buffs.
Galle Face Green
An interesting outline to the coast of Indian Ocean which has evolved over centuries. From being initially laid out to line up the canons against Portuguese in order to safeguard Colombo Fort to being used for horse racing and as a golf course to construction of promenade along the coast for ladies and children to ramble to the largest open space in Colombo where children, vendors, merrymakers, lovers bustle the place. It is generally overcrowded on weekends as people come over for mini picnics and day trippings and let loose.
Laksala is a state owned Souvenir boutique and gift shop which has a grand variety of Srilankan products. The product range vary from sophisticatedly packed tea and spices to gorgeous batik ware to massive collection of art and crafts to exotic collection of fine Srilankan gems and jewellery. It is a one stop shop to pick the souvenirs for all loved ones. All the souvenirs I picked are from Laksala!
A very famous store chain which is no less than size of a mall and caters to modern clothing styles, home ware, cosmetics, accessories, jewelry and much more. It is all in all a modern store chain rightly suited for urban population of Srilanka. I picked up a lot of trendy clothing from Odel. They run great sale too 🙂
Some pictures from streets of Colombo
We could make the most of our day in Colombo because of Traveladvisor Srilanka’s team and their persistence in insisting on showing us around their city.
If you are travelling to Srilanka and have a day in Colombo, do reach out to these guys and see Colombo in the best way possible.