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Rambling through Colombo’s Fort Neighborhood

00 Old Fort District, Colonial era buildings (8)

Columbo’s Fort District is one of the city’s oldest neighborhoods.  Developed extensively during the British Colonial era, a visit to many areas in the Fort seems like stepping back a century or more.  Many of its hotels, shops and offices date to this period.  To this day it remains the city’s center of business and is home to the Bank of Ceylon headquarters and Ceylon Stock Exchange.

The Fort District was built around Colombo’s fine harbor and it is here you will find the Maritime Museum, lighthouse, and Naval barracks.  The area is also site of the country’s Presidential residency and some branches of the country’s government offices.  The area is not exclusively a slice of old England.  For example, the Old Dutch …

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“Pic of the Week”, August 9, 2019: Scenes from the Batticaloa Waterfront

10 Batticaloa harbor

Situated on Sri Lanka’s east coast, the small city of Batticaloa was all but neglected by tourists until the country’s Civil War ended a few years ago.   Fortunately for the region, that’s changing and valuable tourist dollars are flowing in.

Most people who visit Batticaloa go to see its historic fort, which I’ve previously discussed.  The city is situated on the Indian Ocean, to which it is connected by a series of lagoons, and there are many great scenes to enjoy from the water.

Below are some scenes from the city’s waterfront, including of its harbor including fishermen bridges and the city’s lighthouses….

(Click on thumbnails to enlarge and right arrow to advance)

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Around Nuwara Eliya

02 Nuwara Eliya

Nuwara Eliya is unlike most of the destinations you’re likely to visit in Sri Lanka.  Situated in the Hill Country at an altitude of 1,868 m (6,128 ft) , the city is at the heart of Sri Lanka’s important tea growing industry.  It’s also the country’s most important center for vegetable growth.  In fact, the farm land on which vegetables are grown is more expensive than much of the land in nation’s capital of Colombo.  

Nuwara Eliya

Nuwara Eliya

The city was developed by the British during the period of Colonial occupation in the 19th century.  Besides its importance as a tea growing area to the British, the cool temperate climate appealed to them as it was similar to that back home.  Nuwara Eliya …

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“Pic of the Week”, April 19, 2019: Easter Week in Batticaloa

01 St. Mary’s Cathedral, Batticaloa (5)

During my last trip to Sri Lanka, I spent some time visiting with my friend, Dottie, Sir Arthur C Clarke’s personal secretary.  I got to know Dottie during my travels to Sri Lanka decades ago and we have kept up our friendship and correspondence over the years; it was nice to reconnect in person for a few days.

Dottie is a devout Roman Catholic and wanted to visit the Catholic churches in eastern Sri Lanka, which gave me the opportunity to see places and observe religious customs I otherwise might not have.  One of these places was the Cathedral of St. Mary in the small city of Batticaloa, an old church dating to 1808.

The church is simple but nicely maintained.  I …

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“Pic of the Week”, March 22, 2019: Sambodhi Chaithya, Colombo

00 Stupa

Stupas, or dagobas, are very commonly found throughout southeastern Asia.  I’d never seen one with legs before my visit to Sambodhi Chaithya, located on Marine Drive adjacent to the Harbor in Colombo’s Fort district.

Sambodhi Chaithya was built in 1956 on a platform supported by two massive interlocking concrete arches.  No one is sure why it was designed in this manner, but likely so that it can be seen at a distance by ships as they approach the harbor.  The stupa can be entered by climbing 11 sets of stairs (barefoot — no shoes allowed in a stupa — beware of burning your feet on a hot day!), and then crossing a steel bridge as you can see from the photo …

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“Pic of the Week”, February 1, 2019: St. Peter’s Church, Colombo

00 St. Peter’s Church, Fort (3)

Christianity is a minority religion in Sri Lanka with just 7.5% of the population being Christian.  Most residents are Sinhalese Buddhists (70%), with smaller numbers of Tamils (12.5%) and Muslims (10%).  Historically all these people have gotten along quite well, although there have been periods of serious conflict (eg. a bloody 50 year civil war between the Sinhalese and Tamils).  While there are many ancient Buddhist temples throughout Sri Lanka, it’s not common to find older Christian churches.

It’s worth looking for the entrance to St Peter’s in the Fort District of Colombo.  St. Peter’s is located on Church Street beside the Grand Oriental Hotel, adjoining the city’s harbor.  The area is quite secure, with barricades and fencing, because Police headquarters …

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“Pic of the Week”, January 11, 2019: Grand Oriental Hotel, Colombo

00 Oriental Hotel Colombo (4)

The Grand Oriental Hotel (GOH, previously the Taprobane Hotel) is a heritage property located in the Fort district of Colombo.

The building was formerly a barracks for the British Army and was converted to a hotel in 1875,  with 154 rooms.  Ads at the time claimed it was “the only fully European owned and fully equipped hotel in the East”; also, “the hotel is lighted throughout by electricity and all the public rooms and bedrooms are kept cool by means of electric fans”.

It was an elegant place to visit in the 19th century.  It had a tropical garden, was illuminated at night by colored lights, and had its own orchestra which performed daily.  The hotel underwent a thorough a refurbishment in …

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Signs of Sri Lanka

01 Signs of Sri Lanka

As many of you known, I like to collect photos of signage during my travels.  It’s a bit random to see what will strike my fancy, but I find these photos usually tell a story about the destination beyond what you’ll find at major attractions.

Sri Lanka is trying to to transition to a modern economy; we’ll see if it’s successful.  I’d did notice increased numbers of more modern signs while i was there during my last trip, as commerce is becoming more westernized.  These were often in both English and Sinihalese.

Here’s some of what I saw during my most recent travels on the island nation.

(Click on thumbnails to enlarge, right arrow to advance slideshow)

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