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Monday, August 4, 2008


Negombo is a town of about 65,000, approximately 37 km north of Colombo, in Sri Lanka. It is located at the mouth of the Negombo Lagoon, about 7 km from the Bandaranaike International Airport. Negombo has a small port, and its economy is mainly based on tourism and its centuries-old fishing industry. though it also produces ceramics and brass ware.


The name "Negombo" was first used by the Portuguese, a corruption of the Sinhala name MÄ«gamuv

The town is situated by the shores of a lagoon of the same name, and was a trading port during the periods of Portuguese and Dutch colonization.

Negombo is an ideal place for those who want quick access to and from the country's international airport. The 100km long canal network running through the town is still used, and outrigger canoes and modern water-craft ply this route daily, for trade and tourist purposes. Remains of colonization include the Dutch fort built in 1672, as well as centuries-old Portuguese and Dutch houses, administrative buildings, and churches. Negombo is also home to the country's second-largest fish market, the Llelama, at the north end of the town's lagoon. There are daily fish auctions, which give tourists a chance to meet the area's colourful fisherman and even organise fishing trips into the lagoon and the ocean beyond. Other nearby attractions open to visitors include Muthurajawela, which part of 6,000-hectare (14,826-acre) protected marshland, home to over 190 species of wildlife.

Negombo offers some of the better beaches on the west coast of Sri Lanka, and draws tourists who stop over for a day on their way to or from the airport. Some quiet stretches of the beach are maintained by the tourist hotels, while others are always busy with fisherman and their equipment. Water-sports and diving are also extremely popular among visitors, with a few well preserved coral reefs and a 50 year old shipwreck (Kudapaduwa) that serves as an artificial reef for many varieties of fish.

There are also local handicraft sales on the beaches and the shops near the town.

This was also the Home town of the Great "Ruwanal Perera" who is currently one of the top bankers in the United Kingdom.

Since the beginning of European Colonization, the township of Negombo has a majority of Roman Catholics along with Buddhists, Hindus and Muslims. Negombo has been given the name "Little Rome" due to the highly ornate Portuguese-era Roman Catholic churches found within the township. The Katuwapitiya Church and the Grand Street Church are two biggest parishes in Negombo. "Agurukaramulla Pansala" is a famous Buddhist temple bringing Buddhists from all over Sri Lanka to Negombo every year.


Sigiriya is the famous rock-fortress built by King Kasayapa I who gained the throne of Sri Lanka in 477 AD. It is situated in the Central Province of Sri Lanka 183 kilometer (113 miles) from Colombo. Sigiriya also has the distinction of being a World Heritage Site named by UNESCO. It derives it's name 'Lion Rock' from the huge archway shaped like a lion's head, which is the entrance to the fortress.

The history of Sigiriya is as interesting as the fortress itself. Kasyapa was the eldest of the two sons of King dhatusena, who ascended into the throne in 459 AD. However Kasyapa was born of a consort of lesser degree while his younger brother Muggalan was the sone of the chief consort or queen, which made Muggallan the rightful heir to the throne. Kasyapa on the other hand had different plans. With the help of a renegade chief of the army, he assassinated his father and gained the throne. Muggallan, in fear of his, life escaped to southern India. After gaining the throne King Kasyapa went on to to built his fortress and a magnificent palace on top of it, which is said to have taken seven years to complete.

The whole place complex consists of several sites. The rock fortress itself, two rectangular precincts, one in the east spreading over 90 hectares and one in the west spreading over 40 hectares. All of this was surrounded by two moats and three ramparts. The long rising gallery which led up to the rock face was shaped like a lion and the stairways that led to the palace on the summit rose from inside this colossal lion.

Once you start ascending the stairway, you come across many wonderful and interesting artifacts, highlighting the skills of our ancient artisans. About halfway to the summit of the rock you come across the 'Ketapath Pawura' - the mirrored wall. It gets it's name from the smooth glistening surface. It is believed that this was achieved by a glazing created with a mixture of lime, egg whites and wild honey. It is an ancient recipe that withstood the elements for centuries. The smooth surface of the wall was an irresistible invitation for visitors to etch their thoughts and feeling for posterity. Visitors who came to Sigiriya for nearly six centuries recorded their thoughts in form of verse and poetry on this wall and can be still seen today. Out of them over 700 hundred of the verses have been deciphered and published by archeologists, who agree that they are of great value in studying the development of sinhala script and language from the 8th to 10th centuries.

A little further up the rock face you come across the enchanting maidens of Sigiriya. These beautiful frescoes are painted on plastered rock face and are similar in style to the contemporary frescoes at the Ajanta caves in India.


Even today this ancient city steeped in history is revered by the people of Sri Lanka. Situated in the north central province of the country, it is 205 kilometers (128 miles) from the heart of Colombo. Even though it is in the dry zone it has an agrarian based agriculture and supplies a large portion of paddy to the market. It also had the most number of Buddhist monuments in the country and is considered as a holy city.

Anuradhapura is the most famous and longest standing royal capitol of ancient Sri Lanka. It was established as the capitol around the year 400 BCeart of colombo.r ry behind it. by a descendent of Prince Vijaya, the half legendary founder of Sri Lanka. The site was originally a settlement established by on of Prince Vijaya’s chief followers by the name of ‘Anuradha’, hence the settlement was named ‘Anuradha Gama’ which later turned to ‘Anuradhapura’. According to legen King Pandukabhaya relocated the capitol to this settlement following advice from a soothsayer, who foretold that the city was blessed and auspicious capitol city. From then onwards for over a millennia, Anuradhapura stood as the royal capitol of ancient Sri Lanka. A succession of kings developed the city with buildings, lakes, tanks and religious monuments. Its biggest wave of developments came during the reign of King Devanapiyatissa, the grandson of the founder King Pandukabhaya during 250 - 210 BC. This was the time when Buddhism was established in Sri Lanka and after the king and his court converted, he focused on building religious monuments to help with the establishment and spread of Buddhism throughout the country. Many Viharas (monasteries) were constructed to accommodate monks and for the teaching of Buddhism. It was seen as the duty of the king to facilitate the spread of Buddhism and building of these religious monuments was seen as a way of attaining ‘pin’ or merit for the next life. It is possible that Anuradhapura would have had thousands of these religious monuments built by its succession of kings spanning a history of over a millennia. For this reason this city is today considered as a holy city with people from all over the country making pilgrimage to worship the many Buddhist monuments.

Throughout its colorful history, Anuradhapura fell into the hands of south Indian invaders on several occasions, but it was always won back by the brave Singhalese warriors of that time. One of the most famous battles was between the South Indian Prince Elara and the Singhalese King Dutugemunu in the mid 2nd century BC. He was one of the most famous kings of Anuradhapura and built many Dagabas, Viharas and many other religious monuments in honor of Buddhism.

Some of the most famous monuments include, the Ruwanweli Maha Seya, Mirisawatti Dagaba, Abhayagiriya and Thupuaramaya. It is also home to the Mahamewna Uyana where the sacred Bo Tree is planted. It is a sapling taken from the original Bo Tree under which Lord Buddha attained nirvana. It is one of the most sacred places for the people of Sri Lanka.

The other area that the Singhalese kings focused on was building tanks and providing irrigation facilities to help the agrarian based economy. Rice was the main agricultural crop and it required a huge amount of water. Since the area is in the dry zone, collecting of water and distribution of it was an important issue. These ancient people had very good knowledge of irrigation technologies. They built dams across rivers and created tanks and reservoirs to collect rain water from the monsoon showers. After building these reservoirs, they built complex irrigation canals to distribute the water to the paddy fields. These tanks and canals are still part of the irrigation system that feeds the paddy fields of Anuradhapura and its outlying territories.

Anuradhapura is a city steeped in history and one that should not be missed. A journey through this city is like a journey through history, where in depth knowledge about the cultire, heritage and the people of Sri Lanka can be gained.


Polonnaruwa is another important royal capital city of ancient Sri Lanka. It's situated 134 miles ( 215 Kilometers) from Colombo on the north eastern part of the country.

Anuradhapura's glorious reign as the nations capital came to an end due to the mnay devastating invasions by South Indian kings, which lay ruin to the city. One of these invasion by the Cholas, sacked Anuradhapura and established a new capital in the city of Polonnaruwa during the 11th Century. It was taken back by the Sinhala Kings for a brief time, but it was taken over by the Kalinga dynasty. Finally a Kalinga marauder by the name of Magha was driven out by the Singhalese. Eventually it again fell again to the Pandayan dynasty. The most prominent of the Singhalese Kings who ruled in Polonnaruwa were, Vijayabahu I, Parakramabahu I and Nissankamalla.

The ruins of Polonnaruwa are centered mainly in five localities unlike in Anuradhapura, where the ruins are scattered all over. An important site among them is the palace of King Parakramabahu. With it's ten foot thick walls, it was supposedly six stories high, was a masterpiece of ancient architecture. In the audience hall you can find intricate stone carvings highlighting the artistry and craftsmanship of the ancient people. To the east of the palace is a group of building built in various periods. One of them is the Thuparamaya and it's Vatadageya built by King Prakramabahu. It is the smallest of the Polonnaruwa gedige's. The only building built by King Vijayabahu was the Atadageya, which he built as a temple for the tooth relic of Lord Buddha.

Nissanka-lata-mandapaya is a pavilion with stone columns of Tivanka - thrice bent- lotus stalks. It was built by King Nissanakamalla. He also built a temple for the tooth relic known as the Hatadageya and alongside it is in an inscribed slab known as the "Gal Pota" or stone book. It records praises for the king and various edicts passed by him and it is the longest stone inscription found in Sri Lanka.

More towards the south of these ruins another set of monuments can be found. The Potgul Vihara or the Library Shrine is a striking with a hollow dagabe. The famous Polonnaruwa statue, a relief of a man holding an object that appears to be a scroll carved out of granite is another famous monument in Polonnaruwa. There are many theories as to who the statue represents, but the most popular one is that it is King Parakramabahu I himself.

Another interesting site is the Alahana Pirivena, also founded by King Parakramabahu I and it gets its name from the cremation grounds for royalty and sangha that lies nearby. There are three buildings that stands on this site, the Lankatileke image house, the Kiri Vehera and the convocation hall.

Not far from the Kiri Vehera lies the Gal Vihara, which is part of the Uththararama or the Northern monastery, also built by King Prakramabahu I. There are four fascinating statues of the Lord Buddha which are considered to be masterpieces of that time. Close to this you can also find the largest of the Polonnaruwa stupas, the Rankot Vehera.