One of the required stops when touring Colombo is this rather impressive building, situated in Independence Square within the trendy Cinnamon Gardens neighborhood. The monument commemorates Sri Lanka gaining its independence from Great Britain on February 4, 1948. The location is the precise site where Prince Henry, the Duke of Gloucester, opened Sri Lanka’s first parliament, in so doing ending almost five centuries of colonial rule (the last 140 years under Britain).
The building, while mostly made of concrete instead of quarried rock, is styled after the ancient structures in Sri Lanka, The main feature of the monument, the assembly (audience) hall, was modeled after the royal court of the King of Kandy, the last kingdom in the island nation to fall to the British. The exterior of the assembly hall is decorated with Punkalasa pots of plenty (signifying wealth and prosperity). The interior of the hall is supported by 60 pillars adorned with wood carvings. The monument is symbolically guarded by rows of stone lions.
At the entrance to the monument is the statue of D.S. Senanayake, Sri Lanka’s first prime minister (affectionately known as “the father of the nation”). His statue is surrounded by four stone lions with protruding eyes, modeled after 13th century lion statues.
Currently Independence Monument is used as a venue for religious events and annual holiday celebrations. The area is popular with joggers, pedestrians and students from the nearby university.
If you visit.
There is plenty of parking adjoining the site. The monument has no admission charge, although there is a modest admission fee to the museum in the basement of the structure (where you can see artifacts surrounding the Sri Lanka (independence movement).
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