Sri Lanka is a country well known for its love of cricket and incredible cuisine. Being home to 26 national parks it is one of the best safari destinations outside of Africa. 70% of Sri Lankans are Buddhist, and the other 30% is made up of Hindu’s, Muslim’s, Christian’s or Catholics.
My friend Shannon and I rented a taxi for the day so we could try and see as much as possible. For the whole day, we paid £10 each and that included a tip. A few things were recommended to us but something we both wanted to see was the Independence Memorial Hall.
Independence Memorial Hall
Sri Lanka became independent from Britain on February 4th 1948, and this big stone building is a glorious monument to that date in history.
The monument is surrounded by lush greenery, and in front of the building, there is a statue of Sri Lanka’s first president, RT. Hon. Don Stephen Senanayake. There are tall columns that support the roof than many people come and sit up against, to get out of the hot sun. Today it is a place to find peace and quiet away from Columbo’s busy streets.
Shannon and I weaved in and out of the columns while listening to the sound of the running water of the fountains and looking out at the gardens. A group of schoolgirls arrived, clearly on a school trip. The teacher leading them was talking to the group of girls about the memorial, but as she was doing so, all the students were looking at Shannon and me.
The teacher kept asking for the girl’s attention, but in the end, she gave up and walked over to us. The teacher asked if the girls could come and say hello to us. She expressed that they hadn’t seen many tourists before, so she thought the girls were fascinated by mine and Shannon’s skin colour.
We were a little taken aback, but we didn’t mind. The two of us walked up to the girls with their teacher and said “Hello”. As soon as we broke the speech barrier, they all rushed towards us saying “Hello”. They formed a circle around us and were stroking our faces and blond hair. I found it quite amusing. The girls weren’t any older than 12 and yet they were eager for us to pose in a few pictures with them, which we did gladly. They took it in turns to hold our hands and stroke our faces which in all honesty was a bit odd. As the girls walked away, they kept looking at us. It was an amusing event that was definitely unexpected, but everyone was so friendly.
When we got back in the taxi and told our driver what had happened he laughed hysterically.
Temple Of Sri Kailawasanathan Swami Devasthanam Kovil
Next, he took us to The Temple Of Sri Kailawasanathan Swami Devasthanam Kovil. This is Columbus’s oldest Hindu temple. This temple is littered with detailed artwork which is inspired by Southern India. There are also numerous statues of the Hindu gods throughout this temple, and live music that can be heard throughout the temple, which gives it a friendly atmosphere. Along with the multitude of tourists, there is also a constant stream of people coming and going for prayer.
Although we are clearly not Hindu, they welcomed us and were more than happy for us to have a look around. Something to bear in mind is that all footwear must be left at the door and everyone inside the temple is barefoot, so maybe don’t wear any fancy footwear that you don’t want to leave unattended.
The Ranveli Beach Resort
After spending the morning exploring a little, we went to meet some of the other crew members at The Ranveli Beach Resort which is just a 25-minute drive away from the port. The group of us booked a day pass which cost £35 including food, drink and use of all the facilities for 24 hours.
We arrived there at 12.30 so by the time we had got changed into our swimwear it was time for lunch. We all helped ourselves to the buffet lunch which was delicious and then did a little sunbathing in the Sri Lankan sun before it was time to return back to the ship.