Colombo

Colombo – Sri Lanka’s largest metropolis situated very close to the administrative capital of Sri Jayawardenapura , Kotte, seems totally out of proportion with the rest of the country. The city has seen a rapid development taking place during the last ten years and the beauty and the charm of the past glory has been somewhat restored to portray the proud heritage of the city. It tends to become quite congested and chaotic with an influx of traffic in the mornings and the exodus in the evening. Sprawling for sixty kilometers along the island’s western seaboard in a bewildering straggle of suburbs and shantytowns which are home to over two million people, Colombo’s vast extent and confusing layout make it difficult to get to grips with.

There is plenty to enjoy beneath the uncompromising exterior, though especially if you’re interested in getting behind the tourist clichés and finding out what contemporary Sri Lanka tick. Although specific sights are relatively thin on the ground, Colombo offers a heavy mixture of Asian anarchy, colonial charm and modern chic. Shiny modern office blocks and air-conditioned boutiques rub shoulders and tumbledown local cafes and shops, while serene Buddhist shrines and colonial churches stand next to the garishly multicolored towers of Hindu temples. All of which offers a rewarding insight into the rich stew of races and religions which have gone into the making of this many faceted city, and even if you are only on a short trip it’s worth spending a day exploring the maze. Most of all, however it’s Colombo’s energy which is likely to make the strongest impression, especially if you have spent time in the island’s quieter backwaters – for sheer adrenaline, a walk through the crowded bazaars of the Pettah or a high speed rickshaw amidst the kamikaze traffic of the Galle Road have no rival anywhere else in the country.

Within the last five years or so, a new trend of restoration of old colonial buildings in the city has given the tourist a new incentive to visit this city and be enthralled by the Old World Charm of the past glorious days. New sites such as the Independence Arcade, The Race Course and the Dutch Hospital have invariably become tourist haunts offering many dining and socializing options.

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Colombo’s Changing Skyline (Part II)

The traffic may be horrendous at times, and the heat unbearable, but no one can deny that Colombo and its outskirts are slowly but surely morphing into a bigger, more modern metropolis. Just ask Mark Mobius, the famed Emerging Markets investment guru, who had this to say: “We were encouraged to see lively conversations and commerce taking place in Negombo …

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