I first touched foot on Sri Lankan soil about 5 years ago when I visited Colombo with my dad for 3 days. It was everything that I expected it to be, chaotic streets with drowning noise, crowded stores and visible contrast between the rich and poor, I was not a fan.
So much so that I disregarded Sri Lanka as a travel destination, despite the link to my heritage. But sometimes, you need to visit a place twice to recognise it’s beauty – it isn’t always love at first sight.
So when I decided to go back to Sri Lanka, I decided to go back with open eyes and no expectations, I wanted to explore more than the capital. And we did.
It was mesmerising, in case that message didn’t come across in my other post on Ella . I still have so much to write about the amazing safari park at Udawalawe and the south west coast; but today, I go back to the place where it all started,the place that had me dismissing this beautiful country, the capital – Colombo.
The streets of Colombo can confuse anyone’s senses, and the majestic, expensive hotels on the “strip” could suggest a westernised city on the rise. Rooftop bars are definitely a hit here and I really enjoyed sky lounge. Unfortunately, many of the views are confined to sandy roadside filled with cranes for construction.
If you want to stray away from the overpriced hotels, and experience authentic local cuisine, then Upali’s is a must.
While the food takes your breath away, the actual heart of Colombo lies within the sacred Gangaramaya temple.
This temple is one of Colombo’s oldest and grandest, easily located in the city centre. The temple was established in 1885 and represented a re-birth for buddhism in the city, during colonial rule.
It is the most visited temple in the city, and rightly so, one of the biggest. It also hosts the annual Navam Perahera, with man beautifully dressed elephants carrying sacred relics.
A short work from Gangaramaya is another beautiful temple, much smaller, but beautiful settled overlooking Beira lake. This temple is used for meditation rather than worships, and I can imagine why. Walking around it, you can only feel calm, despite the busy roads of Colombo sitting just across the lake.
And in case you havn’t had enough of beautiful buddhist statues, entering Colombo’s largest park – Viharamahadevi park , just opposite of Upali’s restaurant, greets you with a large gold-plated Buddha.
So even though there is always something going on in this city, and sometimes it can get a bit overwheliming, there are so many gems allowing you to escape and find your zen, before heading out into the crazy world…