Pettah

Colombo red and white Mosque

The colourful white and red candy striped Jami UI Alfar Mosque can be found in Pettah, north of the Colombo Fort Railway station at the end of 2nd Cross Street near the junction with Bankshall Street. It is worth the trip as it is architecturally very distinctive and portrays the Mughal architecture which was the type of Indo-Islamic architecture developed by the Mughals in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries throughout the ever-changing extent of their empire in the Indian subcontinent.

Red and white contrasting bricks have been used to create a variety of patterns on the flat outside walls or on the columns. It is very near the Dutch Museum and the Hindu temples of 1st Cross Street and Sea Street. Pettah is a busy congested narrow street scruffy shopping area clogged with bikes, cars and tuk-tuks.

The exterior of the Mosque is well maintained but the street in which it was built is dirty with rubbish lying in the gutter and on the walk ways. If the council was not cleaning the street often enough I would have thought that the Mosque elders would employ someone to keep the immediate area around the Mosque clean. Inside the faithful have to wash themselves before they prey. It would be good to keep the outside of their place of worship clean as well.

There has been a Muslim community in Colombo for over a thousand years. The first Arab Muslims arrived on boats as traders looking for spices and other riches. As their trade prospered they built warehouses near the port and housing. The Pettah Muslim community built this mosque in 1909. During prayer times and all day Fridays the Mosque is closed to non-Muslims.