While we were traveling with The Travel Hub in Sri Lanka we definitely didn’t have time for “il dolce far niente” . After the seamless flight with Flydubai in the evening, we woke up in Colombo ready to immerse ourselves in the intense and multicultural life of the capital..
Our first stop was the floating Gangarama Buddhist temple where we met our guides from Pepper. They offer a variety of opportunities to explore the island off the beaten track and connect with the local people. In Colombo alone they have several tours that cater to the tea, architecture, bike and hidden history lovers. We chose the Cultural tour which lead us to vibrant streets and sacred places of unimaginable beauty.
After walking around Gangarama temple which is a mix of Sri Lankan, Thai, Chinese and Indian architecture (wow!) we took a tuk tuk (known as bajaj in sinhala) to Sri Ponnambalam Vanesar Kovil. The tricycle ride is an unmissable experience and I always enjoy it a lot when in Asia. Here is even better because they have a meter, like a regular taxi, which brings the risk of being ripped off close to zero.
Sri Ponnambalam Vanesar Kovil is another wonder itself. A hindu temple entirely made of South Indian granite, it looks quite simple from the outside but the awe moment came as soon as we stepped inside. I would say that its grandeur is comparable to that of the major cathedrals in Europe like the Duomo in Milan or St Paul in London. I would pay anything to go back there during a service. The feeling should be magnetizing. While there our guide told us that we shouldn’t step on the step at the entrance because it’s a bad luck. Considering that I have probably done it at least twenty times in the hindu temple in Bangkok, now I understand where it all comes from.
Once we took all the photos that we needed we started our walk through the busy and colorful streets of Pettah. We passed by street shops selling ghirland flowers, fabrics, pots and memorabilia all of kinds. We met many locals and they were more than happy to pose for a couple of shots, everyone was so friendly that I felt like being at home. In the meawhile we also visited the Christian church of St Anthony during a service and it was very interesting to witness how the locals worship our same saints in a different way than us.
We stopped for a quick local lunch on Sea street and then made our way to Jami Ul-Afar, the second most beautiful mosque I have ever seen (the first one is Sheikh Zayed Mosque in Abu Dhabi). It’s distinctive candy-striped red-and-white brickwork is a show stopper. We also stopped the traffic for a few (tens of) seconds because our motto with my fellow bloggers was “if you don’t take at least 25 photos it’s like you have never been here”. Our guides were very understanding and even helped us taking some wonderful snaps.
Unfortunately at that point our time was running out because the next adventure awaited us but during these three hours we learned so much about Colombo and its past and present. It was great to feel the intoxicating mix of cultures and see that now they can exist harmoniously together.
If you are heading to Sri Lanka and want to make the most of your time check out our guides from Pepper. They will show you the best of their country.
Here are some pictures from our city walk in Colombo.