Hidden history city walking tours – Colombo
GENERAL DESCRIPTION: Colombo is Sri Lanka’s multifaceted commercial capital; a city with an intriguing mix of history, colonial buildings, ruins, modern developments and a vibrant yet chaotic nature that often confuses first-time visitors. The Fort area of the city is often overlooked by modern-day travelers, but having once been the initial landing place for colonial powers it has a long and colourful history. For many years the secrets of bygone eras stood locked in time within the Fort area as it was partially cordoned off during the rule of the last government. At the start of 2015 these forgotten parts of the Fort area were opened up and some of Colombo’s oldest buildings were once again revealed. This walk lets you explore Colombo’s most historical area, the Fort, before introducing you to one of its most notoriously misunderstood districts, Pettah, with a host who knows the city like the back of his hand.
EXPERIENCE DESCRIPTION: This walk begins in Colombo’s Fort area at the old Dutch Hospital, which is the first of many beautifully restored colonial buildings that you will see on the walk. Your host is a local history buff and he will begin by giving you a quick introduction to the area before you begin the walk. The walk places focus on photography, architecture and history in two stages; stage one covers the Fort while stage two covers the Pettah markets. You’ll start by taking a big loop through the entire Fort area, stopping to visit the currency museum, passing several notable landmarks such as the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, the Old Post Office, and the historical Cargills Building. Your host has a story about each building and his energy and passion for the city are infectious – you’ll be drawn into the experience. Once you’ve finished in the Fort, you’ll stop for tea with a spectacular view overlooking the harbour and then you’ll head towards the bustling Pettah markets to try street snacks, chat with the local ‘bombay sweet’ sellers, and perhaps even try drinking a ‘falludah’. Water will be provided if required along the way. The walk ends back where you started at the Old Dutch Hospital.
OUR HOST: Your host’s ancestors are of Dutch, German, and British descent, but today he classifies himself as a ‘Dutch-Burgher’. He is very much Sri Lankan and speaks the three languages of the island: English, Sinhalese and Tamil. His father’s fondness for road-trips left in him a love for out-door adventure, making friends, and sharing the stories of his adventures. His other interests include off-roading in his beloved Land Rover Defenders, camping in Yala and Udawalawe, photography, and storytelling. Should your host not be available due to unforeseen circumstances, the walk will take place with his wife or one of his collaborators.
Includes: We provide a guide, water, snacks and vehicle.
Duration: 2.5 hours.
Suitable for children: Not for small children, but a walk tailored to suit the interests of children can be organized
Meeting Time: 9.00 AM to 11.30 AM.
What to wear or bring along: Cool, light clothing and a cap
Important to Know: The walk is never scheduled on a poya day – full moon day. Although the host will conduct the walks on Sundays, Sunday is not the best day, as the markets are closed.
Making the most of it: Remember to bring your camera!