“Pic of the Week”, July 13, 2018: The Galle Face Hotel Library and Museum

07bGalle Face Hotel tour (48)

I’ve previously shared a post about one of my favorite hotels, namely Colombo’s Galle Face Hotel.  Today I’d like to highlight two areas hotel guests can explore which were new to the hotel since I’d last stayed here.  These were added during the hotels recent upgrades and renovations.

The hotel now has a very fine Library.  A multi-room quiet place with very comfortable arm chairs and sofas, I spent some time here looking around and taking in the framed historic documents, illustrations and maps, and coffee-table books.  I love libraries and had never been to one so sumptuous and inviting in a hotel before.

It was in the library that I discovered where the bust of Sir Arthur C. …

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.All Trips / Asia / Sri Lanka

Seema Malaka Temple, Colombo

01 Seema Malaka Temple, Colombo (4)

One of the most beautiful temples in Colombo — even all of Sri Lanka — is Seema Malaka.  It’s a Buddhist temple situated on calm and peaceful Beira Lake, not far from Gangaramaya Temple Seema Malaka was designed to be a place for meditation and rest, rather than worship.  It’s a quiet spot from which to retreat from the hustle and bustle of Colombo.  

The temple you see today is a replacement for one constructed in the late 19th century which sank into the lake in the 1970s.  In 1976, famed Sri Lankan architect, Geoffrey Bawa (the father of “tropical modernism” style), was hired to redesign and construct the temple.  Bawa’s design was said to be influenced …

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Exploring the Pettah Market, Colombo

00 Pettah Neighborhood Colombo Market 04-2017 (56)

I love to explore markets and walked a few miles to see this one — the Pettah Market in Colombo.  Situated in an older portion of the city, the market extends over several blocks in the Pettah neighborhood and caters to local residents, not tourists. In fact, I think mine was the only white face in the market.  The market was lively, filled with colorful produce and interesting smells, and full of conversation and bartering — as any good market should be.

The fresh produce was beautiful, featuring what was in season, notably pineapples, wood apples, papayas, watermelon and lots of different types of bananas.  A huge assortment of vegetables were piled on the ground or on low tables and a …

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“Pic of the Week”, May 11, 2018: Wild Peacocks, Yala National Park

01 peacock yala

Yala is Sri Lanka’s largest National Park and is best known as a good place to spot leopards (although we didn’t see any).  We did, however, come across lots of wild peacocks — both male and female– including this male who was putting on quite a show for the ladies.  Feather erect and fanned out, he slowly moved in a circle and strutted his stuff!

Peacocks are a type of pheasant, but with distinctive iridescent tail feathers.  As you can see from the bottom photos, the feathers make up over half of the male bird’s body length.  It is believed females choose their partners according to the size and colors of these feather trains.  These birds are blue peacocks, native to …

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“Pic of the Week”, March 30, 2018: Good Friday in Trincomalee

‘s Cathedral, Trincomale (6)

Last year I had the pleasant experience of being in eastern Sri Lanka on Good Friday.  I was traveling with a friend who is a devout Christian and Roman Catholic.  As such we visited several of the Christian churches on the east coast of the country.  

Christianity is one of the smaller religions in Sri Lanka, the most common being Buddhism.  But there is a strong Christian community especially in the eastern part of the country.  On Good Friday (the day of Jesus’ crucifixion and death) we visited St. Mary’s Cathedral in Trincomalee.  The church was very crowded and busy, with a large line of people waiting to get to the front of the church.  Their goal was to see …

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.All Trips / Asia / Sri Lanka

A Visit to the Old Dutch Fort in Batticaloa

06 Old Dutch Fort Batticaloa (15)

My visit to Sri Lanka this past year provided my first opportunity to explore the east and southeastern coasts of the island.  During prior visits, the area was “off limits” because of the decades-long Civil War disrupting the country (which fortunately has been resolved).  The region around Batticaloa was a Tamil stronghold in their fight with the Sinhalese government.  The region is decidedly more Hindu and Christian than other parts of the island I’ve visited.

Sri Lanka, because of it’s strategic location, has been in the cross-hairs of many colonial nations over the centuries.  In modern recorded history this includes the Portuguese, Dutch and English, all of whom left their mark on the country.  There were several dozen such old forts …

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Colombo’s Independence Memorial Hall

10 Independence Monument

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 …

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Gangaramaya Temple: One of Colombo’s top Attractions

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Sri Lanka is a country of many traditions and faiths, but most of its residents are Sinhalese Buddhists.  As such, exploring the Buddhist temples of the country offers a gateway to understanding the culture and traditions of most of its people.  Gangaramaya Temple is one of the most important temples in Colombo and one of the city’s more interesting sites.

This Buddhist temple is encompassed by several buildings and is situated in the heart of Colombo, not far from Beira Lake.  It includes a Vihara (temple), a Bodhi tree, an Image house, and an assembly hall for monks.  The complex also has an eclectic museum, library, residential hall and an educational hall.  The beautiful Simamalaka Shrine is nearby and a satellite …

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