Colombo, former capital of Sri Lanka is the starting point for tourists to start their travel in Sri Lanka. The city is a unique and interesting blend of heritage and modernization that appeal to travelers of all kind. Tourists find Colombo very interesting as the commercial and financial center of Sri Lanka is filled with colonial buildings, shopping malls, bazaars, and hotels with all modern facilities. The climate of Colombo is tropical and comfortable throughout the year.
There is plethora of tourist attractions in and around Colombo. The main places to visit in the city are national museum, Dehiwala zoo and Pettah – the main city market. A must visit tourist attraction of Colombo is Galle Face Green promenade that stretches for 13 acres between Galle road and the Indian Ocean. There are also some popular travel destinations in close proximity of Colombo like Mount Lavinia – a popular beach in Sri Lanka. Mount Lavinia is popular for its vibrant night life and the shacks and bars right next to the beach. There are also other popular Sri Lanka beaches a little farther from Colombo like Bentota beach, Beruwala beach, and Ambalangoda beach.
The city of Colombo is the largest, busiest, and most westernized city of Sri Lanka. The city is located on the western coast of Sri Lanka island, adjacent to capital city – Sri Jayawardenapura Kotte. An eclectic blend of old and new, Colombo is a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural city for travelers; spread over an area of 3,694.20 sq km with wildly varying architecture. The main city is home to a majority of the Sri Lanka’s corporate offices, restaurants and entertainment venues. Colombo is home to majority of Sri Lankan corporate and Government offices and also the main port of Sri Lanka.
The Sri Lanka tourism development authority also provides city tour service in an open deck bus in Colombo. The bus ride also includes a tour guide that provides detailed information about the history of city landmarks. The main tourist attractions in Colombo that are covered by the bus ride are National museum, Independence square, Wolfendal church, Gangaramaya seemamalakaya, Laksala, and the Courtyard. Tourists can dial 0777-599963 to book city tour. The bus services do pick travellers from some of the popular hotels in Colombo. The Sri Lanka tourist office is located at 80 Galle road.
Getting around in Colombo
The most common means of transport to travel within the city is Tri-shaw (Three wheeler, tuk-tuk). The tuk-tuks in Colombo do not run by meter and travelers should be ready to bargain hard beforehand. Other means of transport within the city are taxis with option of both metered ones and without meters.
History of Colombo
The island of Sri Lanka was first infiltrated by Sinhalese people in the 5th or 6th century BC and the first settlers most likely originated from nearby India, replacing the original inhabitants, the Veddahs or Wanniyala-aetto. Colombo was once a small port town of Sri Lanka in the 5th century before becoming one of the capitals of the Sinhalese kingdom of Anuradhapura, which was established in the 4th century BC.
The location of Colombo established it as a base of traders travelling to Sri Lanka. In the 10th century, Colombo faced multiple invasions from southern India, Chinese and Malayans. Invasions continued until the Portuguese travelled to Sri Lanka in 1505, colonising the entire coastal belt and monopolising trade. Attempts to use Dutch help to expel the Portuguese, merely succeeded in replacing the Portuguese leaders with Dutch ones, who then continued to rule for 140 years.
In 1796, the British replaced the Dutch and became the first European power to control the whole island of Sri Lanka. During British rule, the Fort area was created and large numbers of Tamils from southern India were imported to work on Sri Lanka island’s coffee and tea plantations. It was at this time that Colombo became the capital city of Sri Lanka island. Till date, Colombo remains the cultural, economic and political center of the island.