Due to its varied past, Colombo is home to a host of beautiful temples and churches, which celebrate a range of religions. The Buddhist Gangaramaya temple is a bustling hub of worship. Built in the 19th Century, the temple is a stunning example of traditional architecture of its time, with a bit of Chinese and Thai influence thrown in for good measure. Today, it is half temple, half tourist attraction. Despite its stalls and vibrancy, you are sure to find peace in the temple complex, among the robe-clad monks and beautiful iconography. At night, the temple is beautifully illuminated, its quirky charm reflected in the Beira Lake.
It is also worth going to Pettah to see the Wolvendaal Church, Sri Lanka’s oldest Protestant church, built in 1749 by Dutch colonists. Why not complete your whistle-stop tour of Sri Lanka’s varied religions with a trip to Jami-Ul-Alfar, with its striking red and white façade; a visit to one of the many kovils, built by the Hindus to appease the war gods; and St Lucia’s Cathedral, a Catholic creation whose design was inspired by St Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican?
For a fuller insight into the times and trials of Sri Lanka, visit the National Museum of Colombo, which was established in the late 19th Century, when Sri Lanka was a British Colony. After being greeted by a vast 1200-year-old Buddha, you will be able to explore the ancient and modern history of Sri Lanka, including the magnificent throne made in 1693 for King Wimaladharma, and a rare and priceless collection of palm-leaf manuscripts.
The Dutch Period Museum was originally built for the Dutch Governor in the 17th Century. In the ensuing 400 years, it has taken on several guises, from seminary to police station, but in 1977 the building was restored and today tells the story of the Dutch’s arrival to Sri Lanka in the 1600s. There is so much cultural variety and history in Colombo that it is virtually impossible to take it all in. For a greater insight into the architectural and cultural influences that has helped to shape this beautiful city, take a walking tour, where a guide will point out to you the many modern and contemporary delights that the city has got to offer.