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11 Places to enjoy in Colombo

Colombo, is the island's largest city. If you are spending the day in Colombo or are on transit, there are plenty of places to see. Hiring a three wheeler is probably the best means of transportation for the independent traveller. Hiring a private vehicle is another option. Here are some places to see:

Kelaniya Temple – The Kelaniya Temple is a splendid example of Buddhist architecture and art. At the temple entrance one finds the 'Makara Thorana' archway. The Makara is a symbol of protection in local mythology, and is a stylized depiction of animals combined into an elaborate pattern. It has the trunk of an elephant, the body of a fish, the feet of a lion, the ears of a hog, the teeth of a monkey and the tail of a swan.

National Museum - The National Museum is the oldest and largest museum in the country and  was established in 1877. Through its collections, exhibitions, research and public programs, the National Museum fosters an appreciation of Sri Lankan art traditions and cultural heritage.

National Museum of Natural History - The National Museum of Natural History is located in the same premises as the National Museum. This museum depicts the natural heritage of Sri Lanka. It displays birds, mammals, reptiles, insects, botanical plants, gems and geological specimens found in the island, among other things of interest.

Maritime Museum - The Colombo Maritime Museum transports visitors through maritime history and has some fascinating antiques that were used by lighthouse keepers, pirates, and sailors. The exhibits are a great way to learn about the maritime trade that influenced Sri Lanka and the role played by lighthouses during this era. Items include an antique diving suit, rollers used to stack tea boxes, elephant slings used to load and unload elephants from ships, lanterns used for lighting ships and lighthouses, and buoy lamps that were used to light ships.

The Dutch Period Museum - The museum displays Dutch legacy through artifacts such as furniture, ceramics, coins, arms etc. Its collection includes coins, weapons, pottery, and portraits and furniture from the period of Dutch rule. Today, the sides of the Dutch

Gangaramaya Viharaya - The Gangaramaya Vihara is probably Colombo's most famous Buddhist temple. For over a century since 1890, it has been making a valuable contribution to Buddhist traditions in Sri Lanka. Gangaramaya Viharaya has now become a world renowned center for worship and Buddhist learning.

Viharamahadevi Park - Viharamahadevi Park is the green lung of Colombo. Viharamahadevi is the largest, oldest and most colourful park in Colombo. There are small ponds, occasional elephants and some interesting Buddha statues. There is a special children's section with a small train ride and a zoo of baby animals. There are swings, see-saws, and other amusement activities for children as well.

Dehiwela Zoo - The Dehiwela Zoo has a wide collection of fauna from all over the world. The Min Medura or aquarium displaying over 500 varieties of aquatic life is spectacular. A reptile house has a collection of cobras, vipers, and many other snake varieties. There is also a well-stocked aviary and a Butterfly Park. The highlight is the elephant show in the evening.

Bellanwilla Raja Maha Viharaya - Bellanwila is famous for its Buddhist temple with a long history dating back to the Anuradhapura era, over 2000 years ago. The great sanctity attached to the Bellanwila Rajamaha Vihara is its Bodhi-tree. History records that it is one of the thirty two saplings that sprung from the fruits of the sacred Bodhi-tree in Anuradhapura where a branch of the original tree under which the Buddha attained Enlightenment thrives to this day.

Sri Jayewardenapura Kotte - Sri Jayewardenapura Kotte, is the nation’s administrative capital. Kotte was the capital in the 15th and 16th centuries. The city was abandoned in 1565 as a result of the Portuguese invasion. Places of interest in Kotte include the Parliament, the parliament grounds where locals come to have picnics, and the Kotte Raja Maha Viharaya.

The Folk Art Centre at Battaramulla - The Folk Art Centre, also known as Gramodaya or Jana Kala Kendraya, is situated in Battaramulla, close to the Parliamentary complex of Sri Jayawardenapura. It preserves and develops traditional folk arts of the country. The premises attract both local and foreign tourists. This village is spacious and pleasant to visit and spend some time.