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Colombo, Sri Lanka

Sweet day in Colombo, Sri Lanka! What a contrast to India! Colombo is a relatively small, clean city with plenty of diversity. The architecture around the city shows the influence of Chinese, Dutch, British, Hindu, Muslim and Malay cultures in Colombo. Massive buildings like the Cargill’s Ceylon Department Store and the Museum of Natural History are being preserved and renovated. The street signs are in 3 languages (Singhalese, Tamil and English).
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Buddhism has a strong influence here and it is common to find statues of Buddha and stupas (monuments containing sacred relics), lotuses and lotus symbols - not only in temples but also in parks and along the city streets. The new municipal theatre, built by the Chinese, is shaped like a lotus flower, as is a fountain. An icon tower (similar to the CN tower in Toronto) shaped like a lotus bud is under construction.
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We visited the Kelaniya Buddhist temple, in a little town just outside of Colombo. It’s a large complex that the Buddha visited three times in his lifetime. Outside in the courtyard is an immense Bo tree which grew from sprigs brought from the tree in India under which the Buddha gained enlightenment. Hundreds of white-clad devotees were circling the tree carrying incense, water and bouquets of lotus flowers and leaving offerings on the wall around the tree. Inside the temple, there were frescoes of Buddha’s visits to the area and, behind a veil, was a large golden reclining Buddha.

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We also visited a Hindu temple and happened to be there when a young man had brought his brand new motorcycle to be blessed. A garland adorned the front of the bike; the monk sprinkled the bike with the water of a golden coconut and the juice of a lime, and then had the young man crush the lime under the rear tire, all for good luck. Apparently this is a common practice for any Hindu buying a new vehicle.

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Colombo ranks as the 34th busiest port in the world, and is evidently a major transfer point for shipping containers.
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The posh part of town is called Cinnamon Gardens – a reminder of this island’s historical significance in the spice trade for several millennia. In this area, we visited a store featuring Ceylon tea and wood carvings. We regretted that we couldn’t fit some of the wood furniture into our suitcase!
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By the end of the afternoon, we were dripping with perspiration and anxious to get back on board to have a swim!

Posted by HosMiniTravels 16:40 Archived in Sri Lanka

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