Buddhism and Sri Lanka

According to Sri Lankan chronicles, Buddhism was introduced to Sri Lanka in the 3rd century B.C. by Arhant Mahinda, during the reign of King Devanampiya Tissa.

Sri Lankan Inscriptions

The earliest trace of epigraphy in South Asia is said to be found in Sri Lanka. A piece of pottery, dated to circa the 4th century B.C. has been discovered from the Anuradhapura citadel.

Architecture of Sri Lanka

The architecture of Sri lanka has a long history and shows diversed forms and styles, mainly infuenced by their religions and traditional beliefs.

Sri Lankan Antiquities

Inherited from the past, Sri Lanka has a large number of antiques with cultural and historical significance which reflects the glory of past era.

Visit Sri Lanka

Located in the northern waters of the Indian Ocean, Sri Lanka is an island blessed with a large number of attractons which has made the country an ideal destination for the tourism.

Wednesday, 31 August 2022

Laksala Building (Colombo Fort)

Colombo Laksala Building
Colombo Laksala Building (Photo credit: Google Street View)

Laksala Building (Sinhala: කොළඹ ලක්සල ගොඩනැගිල්ල) is located at No. 60, York Street in Colombo Fort, Sri Lanka. It was formerly known as the Australia Building.

The building was constructed following the design of the British architect Edward Skinner during the period 1899-1900 (Manathunga, 2016). A plaque on the front wall of the building reads "Australia Building 1900" (Manathunga, 2016). It is a 3-storied terracotta and yellow brick Neo-Classical building with "Indi" details with three types of decorative arches (Welandawe & Weerasinghe, 2016).

References
1) Manathunga, S. B., 2016. Pauranika Sthana Saha Smaraka: Kolamba Distrikkaya (In Sinhala). Department of Archaeology (Sri Lanka). ISBN: 955-9159-39-9. p.37.
2) Welandawe, H., Weerasinghe, J., 2016. Urban Heritage in the Western Region Megapolis Planning Project. p.47.

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This page was last updated on 30 August 2022

Tuesday, 30 August 2022

Khan Clock Tower

Khan Clock Tower
The Khan Clock Tower (Sinhala: ඛාන් ඔරලෝසු කණුව) is located on Main Street in Pettah in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

History
The clock tower was built in 1923 by the family of Framjee Bhikhajee Khan, a Parsi family from Bombay, India (Welandawe & Weerasinghe, 2016). They owned several businesses in the country including the famous Colombo Oil Mills (Welandawe & Weerasinghe, 2016). The inscription on the tower can be read as follows;
This clock tower and fountain was erected to the memory of Framjee Bhikhajee Khan by his sons Bhikhajee and Munchershaw Framjee Khan as a token of affectionate gratitude and dedicated through the Municipal Council to the citizens of Colombo on the fourth day of January 1923, the 45th anniversary of his death
The tower
The tower is approximately four stories high and is situated at the roundabout that marks the entrance to the Pettah market (Welandawe & Weerasinghe, 2016).

Attribution
1) Khan Clock Tower by Jorge Láscar is licensed under CC BY 2.0
 
References
1) Welandawe, H., Weerasinghe, J., 2016. Urban Heritage in the Western Region Megapolis Planning Project. p.62.

Location Map
This page was last updated on 30 August 2022

Monday, 29 August 2022

Regal Cinema (Colombo Fort)

Regal Cinema Colombo
Regal Cinema, Colombo (Photo credit: Google Street View)

Regal Cinema (Sinhala: කොළඹ රීගල් සිනමාහල) is located at No. 8, S.C.A.G. Mawatha in Colombo Fort, Sri Lanka. It was established in 1930 under the company named "Ceylon Theaters" (Welandawe & Weerasinghe, 2016).

References
1) Welandawe, H., Weerasinghe, J., 2016. Urban Heritage in the Western Region Megapolis Planning Project. p.56.

Location Map
This page was last updated on 29 August 2022

Sunday, 28 August 2022

Tower Hall Theatre

Tower Hall Theatre
Colombo Hatton National Bank Building (Photo credit: Google Street View)

Tower Hall Theatre (Sinhala: ටවර් හෝල් රඟහල) is located at No. 93, Panchikawatta Rd in Maradana in Colombo District, Sri Lanka. Constructed in 1911 by an entrepreneur named G.D. Hendrick Seneviratna, it is the first theatre built in the country (Welandawe & Weerasinghe, 2016). The clock tower next to the main hall is said to have been built to represent the "Tower of London" and because of this tower, the theatre came to be known as the Tower Hall (Welandawe & Weerasinghe, 2016).

To encourage and promote national theatrical activities, the Tower Hall Theatre Foundation (THTF) was established under the THTF Act No. 01 of 1978. The foundation also functions as the National Centre of the International Theatre Institute (ITI). The hall was renovated in the 1980s by President Premadasa (Gunawardena, 2003).

See also

References
1) Gunawardena, C.A., 2003. Encyclopedia of Sri Lanka. Sterling Publishers Pvt Ltd. ISBN: 81-207-2536-0. p.293.
2) Welandawe, H., Weerasinghe, J., 2016. Urban Heritage in the Western Region Megapolis Planning Project. p.95.

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This page was last updated on 31 August 2022

Saturday, 27 August 2022

Walisinghe Harischandra Museum & Cultural Centre

Walisinghe Harischandra Museum Cultural Centre
Walisinghe Harischandra Museum & Cultural Centre (Photo credit: Google Street View)

The Walisinghe Harischandra Museum & Cultural Center (Sinhala: වලිසිංහ හරිශ්චන්ද්‍ර කෞතුකාගාරය සහ සංස්කෘතික මධ්‍යස්ථානය) is situated in Negombo in Gampaha District, Sri Lanka. It is dedicated to Walisinghe Harischandra (1876-1913), a social reformer, historian, author and revivalist of Sri Lankan Buddhism.

The museum was established in 1996 to commemorate the service performed by Harischandra for the country (Rambukwella, 2014). It was initially managed by the Department of National Museums and was handed over to the Department of  Cultural Activities, the Ministry of Cultural Affairs in 2001 (Rambukwella, 2014).

The museum has been established in his house to exhibit furniture, books and diaries used by Harischandra (Rambukwella, 2014). The ownership of this house was transferred to the Ministry of Culture and Religious Affairs on 13 September 1996 on the occasion of his 83rd commemoration. Presently, the house provides services to the people living in the area such as an education centre and a library.

References
1) Rambukwella, M.W.C.N.K., 2014. Heritage representation in culturally diverse societies: a case study of the Colombo National Museum in Sri Lanka (Doctoral dissertation, School of Museum Studies). p.423.

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This page was last updated on 27 August 2022

Friday, 26 August 2022

Colombo YMCA Building

Colombo YMCA Building
Colombo YMCA Building (Photo credit: Google Street View)

The YMCA Building is situated at No. 39, Bristol Street in Colombo Fort, Sri Lanka.

Constructed in 1924, the building presently houses the YMCA (Young Men's Christian Association) one of the oldest Non-Governmental Organizations in the country founded on 28 June 1882 (Welandawe & Weerasinghe, 2016). It also houses Sri Lanka‟s oldest billiard club dating 130 years (Welandawe & Weerasinghe, 2016).

References
1) Welandawe, H., Weerasinghe, J., 2016. Urban Heritage in the Western Region Megapolis Planning Project. p.59.

Location Map
This page was last updated on 26 August 2022

Thursday, 25 August 2022

Lake House Building

Lake House Building
The Lake House Building (Sinhala: කොළඹ ලේක් හවුස් ගොඩනැගිල්ල) is situated at No. 35, D.R. Wijewardana Mawatha in Colombo Fort, Sri Lanka.

Lake House building is considered the oldest media house in the country (Welandawe & Weerasinghe, 2016). It was built in 1929 to house the Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Limited, a public limited liability company incorporated in Sri Lanka in 1926 by its founder D. R. Wijewardena (1886-1950), one of the leaders in Sri Lanka's Independent Movement (Welandawe & Weerasinghe, 2016). The building was designed by renowned architect Sir Oliver Weerasinghe.

The building was expanded in 1970 by adding a new part (Eastern Wing) which follows the exact architecture of the original building which is presently the part at the west corner. [(Western Wing) Welandawe & Weerasinghe, 2016]. Prof. M S Manawadu of the University of Moratuwa was involved in the construction of the new part which had been commissioned to the architectural firm he was working for in 1978.

The Lake House building bears British colonial Indo-Saracenic architecture (Welandawe & Weerasinghe, 2016). 

References
1) Welandawe, H., Weerasinghe, J., 2016. Urban Heritage in the Western Region Megapolis Planning Project. p.55.

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This page was last updated on 25 August 2022

Wednesday, 24 August 2022

Cenotaph War Memorial (Colombo)

Colombo Cenotaph War Memorial
Cenotaph War Memorial is a war monument located in the Colombo Public Library premises adjacent to the Viharamahadevi Park in Colombo District, Sri Lanka. It has been erected in memory of war heroes from Sri Lanka (then Ceylon) who were killed in action during World War I (1914-1918) and World War II [(1939-1945) Cornelissen & Weinrich, 2020].

Sri Lanka in World Wars
Sri Lanka in the First World War
World War I centred in Europe began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918. Sri Lanka, then known as Ceylon, as a part of the British Empire, offered the service of approximately 2000 volunteers from the Ceylon Defence Force, and 442 among them did not survive. The closest fighting to Sri Lanka took place in the Bay of Bengal, where an Australian warship sank a German cruiser.

Sri Lanka in the Second World War
World War II was begun on 1 September 1939 and lasted till 2 September 1945. The two naval bases in Colombo and Trincomalee in Sri Lanka were attacked by Japan after the fall of Singapore and the Netherlands East Indies. The port at Colombo was bombed by them on 5 April 1942 while the port at Trincomalee was attacked on 9 April the same year. The destroyer Tenedos (under refitting) and the armed merchant cruiser Hector (under repair) that were in Colombo harbour were sunk and the quays and workshops there were damaged by the attackers. Also, the carrier Hermes, the destroyer Vampire, the corvette Hollyhock, a tanker and a fleet auxiliary were sunk off the Trincomalee coast.

The Cenotaph
The cenotaph was built by the British in the 1920s at the Galle Face Green (Cornelissen & Weinrich, 2020). However, it was dismantled and moved to the present site during World War II after fears that the Japanese warships might use it as a marker to direct their artillery (Jackson, 2017). 

The memorial site comprises the towering cenotaph and memorial walls. The cenotaph contains the names of those killed in World War I, while the memorial wall behind it contains the names of those killed in World War II. 

See also

References
1) Cornelissen, C. and Weinrich, A. eds., 2020. Writing the Great War: The Historiography of World War I from 1918 to the Present. Berghahn Books. p.117.
2) Jackson, A. ed., 2017. The British Empire and the First World War. Taylor & Francis. p.3.

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This page was last updated on 24 August 2022

Tuesday, 23 August 2022

Viharamahadevi Park

Viharamahadevi Park
Viharamahadevi Park (Sinhala: විහාරමහාදේවි උද්‍යානය) is an urban and recreational park situated in Cinnamon Gardens in Colombo District, Sri Lanka. It is the oldest and the largest park within the vicinities of the Port of Colombo (Bajpai, 2019).

The park was established on the land donated by Charles Henry De Zoysa during the British rule of Sri Lanka (1815-1948) and initially, it was known as "Victoria Park" (Bajpai, 2019; Karunarathne & Gunawardena, 2020). At the time of World War II (1939-1945), the park was occupied by the British army with the Australian 17th Brigade (Bajpai, 2019). After the war, the park was restored and opened to the public in 1951 (Bajpai, 2019).

On 18 July 1958, the park was renamed after Queen Viharamahadevi, the mother of King Dutugemunu (161-137 B.C.) who was an important figurehead in Sri Lanka's history (FCD, 1959; Karunarathne & Gunawardena, 2020; Nawarathna Banda, 2010). Major development works were carried out at the garden before the 23rd Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting that was held in 2013 in Colombo. 

The park covers an area of 18.8 ha and is maintained by the Colombo Municipal Council (Karunarathne & Gunawardena, 2020; Nawarathna Banda, 2010). The large Buddha statue and the series of water fountains are notable features of the park. It also includes a mini zoo and a children's play area (Nawarathna Banda, 2010). At the western end of the park are the Cenotaph War Memorial and the Colombo Public Library. The Open Air Stadium at the eastern end of the park is used as a venue for concerts and public events.

Viharamahadevi Park
.
See also

Attribution
2) Viharamahadevi Park, Colombo - panoramio (1) by Alexey Komarov is licensed under CC BY 3.0
 
References
1) Bajpai, L.M., 2019. Stories of the Colonial Architecture: Kolkata-Colombo (Vol. 1). Doshor Publication. pp.134-135.
2) FCD, 1959. Ferguson's Ceylon Directory, 1959. Colombo. p.67.
3) Karunarathne, H.M.L.P. and Gunawardena, U.A.D.P., 2020. Economic Value of Urban Green Space: A Travel Cost Approach for Viharamahadevi Urban Park, Sri Lanka. Journal of Tropical Forestry and Environment, 10(1).
4) Nawarathna Banda, H.M., 2010. Demand for nature tourism: estimating recreational benefits from the Viharamahadevi National Park in Colombo. Wayamba Journal of Management 1 (2). pp.99-116.

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This page was last updated on 25 August 2022

Monday, 22 August 2022

Lankem Plantation House (Colombo Fort)

Lankem Plantation House
The Lankem Plantation House Building (Sinhala: කොළඹ ලංකෙම් ප්ලාන්ටේශන් ගොඩනැගිල්ල) is situated at No. 55 1/1, Sir Baron Jayatilaka Mawatha in Colombo Fort, Sri Lanka.

Estimated to have been built in 1860, this building is presently the headquarters of Lankem Tea & Rubber Plantations (Pvt) Limited, one of the largest plantation companies in Sri Lanka (Welandawe & Weerasinghe, 2016). The building bears architectural features of the Neo-Classical style of the British Period [(1818-1948) Welandawe & Weerasinghe, 2016]. 

References
1) Welandawe, H., Weerasinghe, J., 2016. Urban Heritage in the Western Region Megapolis Planning Project. p.39.

Location Map
This page was last updated on 22 August 2022

Sunday, 21 August 2022

Colombo Lighthouse

Colombo Lighthouse
Colombo Lighthouse, previously known as Galle Buck Lighthouse (Sinhala: කොළඹ ප්‍රදීපාගාරය; Tamil: கொழும்பு கலங்கரை விளக்கம்), is one of the lighthouses in Sri Lanka. It is located on Chaithya Road at Galbokka Point south of the Colombo Port, in Colombo Fort.

History
The lighthouse was built in 1952 to replace the Old Lighthouse on Chatham Street (Welandawe & Weerasinghe, 2016). At the time, it was called the lighthouse at "Galle Buck", the corruption of the Sinhalese name "Galbokka" meaning "rocky bay" (Welandawe & Weerasinghe, 2016). The tower bears architectural features of the Indo-Saracenic style as was common in the second half of the 20th century (Welandawe & Weerasinghe, 2016). 

The plaque fixed onto the lighthouse structure can be read as follow;
This monument marks the bold enterprise and vision displayed by the first leaders of free Lanka who by embarking upon such immense constructional works as the Colombo Port Development Scheme of 1950, emulated the shining example of her great kings whose public works shed glory upon this land.
References
1) Welandawe, H., Weerasinghe, J., 2016. Urban Heritage in the Western Region Megapolis Planning Project. p.23.

Location Map
This page was last updated on 21 August 2022

Saturday, 20 August 2022

Colombo Port Maritime Museum

Colombo Port Maritime Museum
Colombo Port Maritime Museum (Sinhala: කොළඹ වරාය සමුද්‍ර කෞතුකාගාරය) is located at No. 19 on Chaitya Road in Colombo Fort, Sri Lanka. It is operated and maintained by the Sri Lanka Ports Authority.

History
The museum has been established in one of the few well-preserved Dutch Buildings in Colombo (Welandawe & Weerasinghe, 2016). It was constructed by the Dutch in 1676 and was used as a store and a prison (Manathunga, 2016; Welandawe & Weerasinghe, 2016).

There were four buildings erected during the Dutch period made of Kabok (laterite) and limestones (Manathunga, 2016). They were mainly used to store long-lasting food items such as liquor and cinnamon (Manathunga, 2016). A distinctive feature of these buildings was their barrel roofs known as Pakhuizen (Manathunga, 2016). In 1951, two of these buildings were demolished and another was razed to the ground in 1999 (Manathunga, 2016). The present building is the only one left and it was refurbished and converted into a museum in 2003.

The museum
The museum exhibits historical incidents from the era of the arrival of Prince Vijaya to Sri Lanka in the 6th century B.C. and other historical developments in the Portuguese (1505-1658), Dutch (1658-1796) and British (1796-1948) times.

A protected monument
The old Dutch store room within the premises of the Colombo Port in the Grama Niladhari Wasama Fort in the Colombo Divisional Secretary’s Division is an archaeological protected monument, declared by a government gazette notification published on 18 June 1999.

Attribution
 
References
1) Manathunga, S. B., 2016. Pauranika Sthana Saha Smaraka: Kolamba Distrikkaya (In Sinhala). Department of Archaeology (Sri Lanka). ISBN: 955-9159-39-9. pp.16-17.
2) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. no: 1085. 18 June 1999.
3) Welandawe, H., Weerasinghe, J., 2016. Urban Heritage in the Western Region Megapolis Planning Project. p.22.

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This page was last updated on 20 August 2022

Friday, 19 August 2022

Old Customs Building (Colombo Fort)

Old Customs Building
Old Customs Building (Photo credit: Google Street View)

The Old Customs Building (Sinhala: කොළඹ පැරණි රේගු ගොඩනැගිල්ල) is located facing the Colombo Port at No. 11, Chaitya Road in Colombo Fort, Sri Lanka.

Constructed during the British period (1815-1948), this two-storeyed Neo-Classical building housed the customs house before it became the head office of the Ports  Authority (Welandawe & Weerasinghe, 2016).

References
1) Welandawe, H., Weerasinghe, J., 2016. Urban Heritage in the Western Region Megapolis Planning Project. p.21.

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This page was last updated on 19 August 2022

Thursday, 18 August 2022

Delft Gateway (Colombo Fort)

Delft Gateway Colombo
The Delft Gateway (Sinhala: කොළඹ ඩෙල්ෆ්ට් දොරටුව) is located in the Commercial Bank building premises at No. 9, Bristol Street in Colombo Fort, Sri Lanka.

History
This gateway has been identified as one of the entrances to the now-destroyed Colombo Fort (Rajapakshe et al., 2018). It was built by the Dutch during their colonial rule on the island from 1640 to 1796 (Rajapakshe et al., 2018; Welandawe & Weerasinghe, 2016). The Dutch left the country in 1796 and the British took over the control of the areas held by them. Although the ramparts of the fort were removed by the British in about 1872 to acquire the space for their administrative buildings, they left this gateway unharmed (Rajapakshe et al., 2018).

The gate
The gate has been built using bricks and Kabok (laterite) stones (Rajapakshe et al., 2018). The width of the gate is 5.1 m and the perimeter of the remaining wall is 15.9 m (Rajapakshe et al., 2018). A stone slab containing the year 1854 is found placed near the gate (Rajapakshe et al., 2018). 

Presently this monument is conserved by the Commercial Bank.

A protected monument
The Delft Gate in Bristol Street in the Grama Niladhari Wasama Fort in the Colombo Divisional Secretary’s Division is an archaeological protected monument, declared by a government gazette notification published on 30 December 2011.

Delft Gateway Colombo
.
Attribution
2) DelftGate by Zapata1000 is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0
 
References
1) Rajapakshe, S.; Bandara, T. M. C.; Vanninayake, R. M. B. T. A. B. (Editors), 2018. Puravidya Sthana Namavaliya: Kolamba Distrikkaya (In Sinhala). Vol. I. Department of Archaeology (Sri Lanka). ISBN: 978-955-7457-19-2. p.21.
2) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. no: 1739. 30 December 2011. p.1093.
3) Welandawe, H., Weerasinghe, J., 2016. Urban Heritage in the Western Region Megapolis Planning Project. p.41.

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This page was last updated on 18 August 2022

Wednesday, 17 August 2022

Old Republic Building (Colombo Fort)

Old Republic Building, Colombo
Old Republic Building, Colombo (Photo credit: Google Street View)

The old Republic Building (Sinhala: කොළඹ ජනරජ ගොඩනැගිල්ල) is situated at No. 7, Janadipathi Mawatha in Colombo Fort, Sri Lanka.

Histroy
This building was constructed by demolishing an old Dutch building there in 1860 [during the British Colonial Period (1815-1948)] to house the Legislative Council of Ceylon (Manathunga, 2016). It served the Council until 1929 when the Secretariat Offices and Legislative Council Chambers were moved to the newly built classical-styled building near Galle Face Green [(present Old Parliament Building) Manathunga, 2016]. During this period, the building combined many government offices such as the Audit Office, Treasury, Record and Patent Offices, the Government Archives and the Government Printing Office.

Following independence in 1948, the building became home to a number of government institutions including the Senate of Ceylon, the Prime Minister's Office, the Cabinet Office and the Ministry of External Affairs and Defence (Manathunga, 2016). The building along with the adjacent street was renamed "Republic Building" and "Republic Square" (although not open to the public) when Sri Lanka became a republic in 1972 (Welandawe & Weerasinghe, 2016).

Presently, the building houses the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the southern wing and the Cabinet Office in its northern wing.

The building
Located facing the Gordon Gardens, this building bears architectural features of the Neo-Classical style of the British Period (Welandawe & Weerasinghe, 2016). Major renovations were done to the building in 1948 (Manathunga, 2016).

References
1) Manathunga, S. B., 2016. Pauranika Sthana Saha Smaraka: Kolamba Distrikkaya (In Sinhala). Department of Archaeology (Sri Lanka). ISBN: 955-9159-39-9. pp.26-27.
2) Welandawe, H., Weerasinghe, J., 2016. Urban Heritage in the Western Region Megapolis Planning Project. p.20.

Location Map
This page was last updated on 7 September 2022

Tuesday, 16 August 2022

Gramarakshaka Headquarters (Colombo Fort)

Gramarakshaka Headquarters Colombo
The old Gramarakshaka Headquarters Building (Sinhala: කොළඹ ග්‍රාමාරක්ෂක මූලස්ථාන ගොඩනැගිල්ල) is located at No. 11, Sir Baron Jayathilake Mawatha in Colombo Fort, Sri Lanka.

Constructed in 1850, this building has been part of the government offices during the British Period [(1815-1948) Manathunga, 2016; Rajapakshe et al., 2018]. It was used as the office of the Department of Government Information before becoming the Headquarters of Gramarakshaka under the Ministry of Defence (Rajapakshe et al., 2018).

This two-storied building bears architectural features of the Neo-Classical style of the British Period (Welandawe & Weerasinghe, 2016). 

Gramarakshaka Headquarters Colombo .
References
1) Manathunga, S. B., 2016. Pauranika Sthana Saha Smaraka: Kolamba Distrikkaya (In Sinhala). Department of Archaeology (Sri Lanka). ISBN: 955-9159-39-9. p.35.
2) Rajapakshe, S.; Bandara, T. M. C.; Vanninayake, R. M. B. T. A. B. (Editors), 2018. Puravidya Sthana Namavaliya: Kolamba Distrikkaya (In Sinhala). Vol. I. Department of Archaeology (Sri Lanka). ISBN: 978-955-7457-19-2. p.27.
3) Welandawe, H., Weerasinghe, J., 2016. Urban Heritage in the Western Region Megapolis Planning Project. p.19.

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This page was last updated on 16 August 2022

Monday, 15 August 2022

Chartered Bank India Building (Colombo Fort)

Colombo Chartered Bank India Building
Colombo Chartered Bank India Building (Photo credit: Google Street View)

The old Chartered Bank of India Building (Sinhala: කොළඹ ඉන්දියානු චාර්ටඩ් බැංකු ගොඩනැගිල්ල) is located at No. 17, Janadipathi Mawatha in Colombo Fort, Sri Lanka.

This Neo-Classical building was constructed following the plan of two British nationals, Reed and Buth (Manathunga, 2016). It once housed the Oriental Bank which had collapsed in the late 19th century when the rust disease Hemileia vastatrix wiped out the country's coffee industry in 1869 (Welandawe & Weerasinghe, 2016). Presently, it is occupied by the Chartered Bank of India which started for Indian merchants in 1892 with the association of the Royal Chartered Bank of Britain (Manathunga, 2016).

It is a three-storied building with architectural features deviating from the traditional Neo-Classical style. Oriental details with eight elephant head sculptures on the entrance wall are notable. Several changes have been done to the building between 1930-1933 (Manathunga, 2016).

A protected monument
The Charted Bank building located at Janadipathi Mawatha Street in Colombo Fort, in the Divisional Secretary’s Division of Colombo is an archaeological protected monument, declared by a government gazette notification published on 21 January 2000.

See also
#) Hatton National Bank Building (Colombo)

References
1) Manathunga, S. B., 2016. Pauranika Sthana Saha Smaraka: Kolamba Distrikkaya (In Sinhala). Department of Archaeology (Sri Lanka). ISBN: 955-9159-39-9. p.35.
2) The Gazette of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. no: 1116. 21 January 2000.
3) Welandawe, H., Weerasinghe, J., 2016. Urban Heritage in the Western Region Megapolis Planning Project. p.16.

Location Map
This page was last updated on 15 August 2022

Sunday, 14 August 2022

Galle Fort

Galle Fort
Galle Fort (Sinhala: ගාලු කොටුව; Tamil: காலிக் கோட்டை) is an ancient fort in Galle, Sri Lanka. In 1988, it was inscribed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO based on criterion (iv) of outstanding universal value (ICOMOS, 1988). It is the only colonial and non-Buddhist cultural site among the country’s six Cultural World Heritage sites (Janakiraman, 2019).

World Heritage Site: Old Town of Galle and its Fortifications

Location: City of Galle, Southern Province, Sri Lanka
Coordinates: N6 1 40.984 E80 12 58.846
Date of Inscription: 1988
Description: Founded in the 16th century by the Portuguese, Galle reached the height of its development in the 18th century, before the arrival of the British. It is the best example of a fortified city built by Europeans in South and South-East Asia, showing the interaction between European architectural styles and South Asian traditions.
Criteria:  (iv) Galle provides an outstanding example of an urban ensemble which illustrates the interaction of European architecture and South Asian traditions from the 16th to the 19th centuries. Among the characteristics which make this an urban group of exceptional value is the original sewer system from the 17th century, flushed with sea water controlled by a pumping station formerly activated by a windmill on the Triton bastion. However, the most salient fact is the use of European models adapted by local manpower to the geological, climatic, historic, and cultural conditions of Sri Lanka. In the structure of the ramparts, coral is frequently used along with granite. In the ground layout, all the measures of length, width, and height conform to the regional metrology. The wide streets, planted with grass and shaded by suriyas, are lined with houses, each with its own garden and an open verandah supported by columns - another sign of the acculturation of an architecture which is European only in its basic design.
Reference: 451; Old Town of Galle and its FortificationsUNESCO World Heritage Centre, United Nations.
 
History
Galle, a trading port
Galle Trilingual Slab Inscription
Due to the strategic location along the main sea routes, the natural harbour at Galle was prominent among other ports in the country since ancient times (ICOMOS, 1988). The earliest record of Galle is said to date back to Ptolemy’s World Map from the 2nd century A.D. (Janakiraman, 2019). It is believed that the Moroccan explorer Ibn Battuta passed through the Galle port in 1344. (ICOMOS, 1988; Janakiraman, 2019). Also, the Galle Trilingual Slab Inscription reveals that Chinese, Muslim, and Hindu traders frequented the port in the 15 century A.D. (Janakiraman, 2019).

First erected in the 16 century A.D., the fort at Galle was occupied, throughout its history, by three European colonial powers: the Portuguese (1505-1640), the Dutch (1640-1796), and the British [(1796- 1948) Sanjeewani, 2012].

Portuguese and the early Black Fort (1505-1640 A.D.)
The Galle fort's history begins after the accidental arrival of the Portuguese in Sri Lanka in 1505 (Rajapakse, 2013). Galle was majorly a trading settlement of Muslims when the Portuguese fleet of ships under the command of Don Laurenco de Almeida reached the island to take refuge from inclement weather on their way to the Maldives (Janakiraman, 2019; Sanjeewani, 2012). After the arrival, the Portuguese made contact with the king of the Kotte Kingdom and reached an agreement with him to protect the port area from the Muslims (Sanjeewani, 2012). As a result of this, they first constructed a small fort called the Black Fort near the sea in 1517 and then built a more solid fort in 1588 (Bohingamuwa, 2019; Rajapakse, 2017; Sanjeewani, 2012). The plan drawn for this fort by Mathiyas Albakar was documented in 1589 and in which Galle is named Ponta de Gale with a reference to the Forta Leza, the Black Fort (Sanjeewani, 2012). The earliest fortification was a primitive arrangement consisting of a wall with three bastions facing the landside (Janakiraman, 2019). The three bastions were known as St. Jago (the sun bastion), Conceicao (the moon bastion) and St. Antonio [(the star bastion) Abeyawardana, 2004]. The seaward side was considered invulnerable and was not fortified (ICOMOS, 1988). 

As is revealed by the plan drawn by Bento de Resende in 1640, the Portuguese made several improvements and repairs to the fort in 1595 and in 1610 (Sanjeewani, 2012).

Dutch occupation and construction of the Galle Fort (1640-1796 A.D.)
After a short battle of five days, the Dutch army consisted of 12 ships and 2,000 men, took over the control of the Portuguese fort at Galle on 13 March 1640 and occupied it until 1796 (Abeyawardana, 2004; Janakiraman, 2019; Sanjeewani, 2012). Considerable physical changes were done to the fort by them by destroying and incorporating parts of the old Portuguese structures (Rajapakse, 2013; Sanjeewani, 2012). They replaced the ramparts of earth with granite and limestone and widened the moat (Abeyawardana, 2004).

At the time of the Dutch occupation of the fort, the Indian Ocean had many European nations competing for power in the region (Janakiraman, 2019). The siege of the Galle port helped the Dutch East India Company (Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie or VOC) to dismantle the Portuguese monopoly of the cinnamon trade in the region (Janakiraman, 2019). To protect the port as well as the fort from the English, French, Danish, Spanish, and Portuguese fleets, the Dutch began to construct fortifications on both the landward and seaward sides (Abeyawardana, 2004; ICOMOS, 1988; Janakiraman, 2019). They started to construct massive ramparts for the fort in 1663 and continued it up to 1729 (Abeyawardana, 2004; Janakiraman, 2019; Rajapakse, 2013). The Portuguese bastions, St. Jago, and St. Antonio were renamed Hoofdwacht and Zee punt in 1667 while the Conceicao became the middle part or the Moon Bastion (Abeyawardana, 2004). By 1669, they established a well-planned town within the fort with a regular street grid accommodating administrative, religious, residential, and commercial uses, similar to the fortified cities of Europe (Abeyawardana, 2004; Janakiraman, 2019). The city also included an intricate sewerage system flushed by using seawater with the aid of a windmill on the Triton bastion (Abeyawardana, 2004). 

British colonization and the fort (1796-1948 A.D.)
Galle lighthouse
The British took over the Dutch-held coastal areas in Sri Lanka including Galle, in 1796 (Sanjeewani, 2012). They occupied the Galle Fort on 23 February and used it as their administrative centre for the South of the island while continuing its function as a residential town (Abeyawardana, 2004; Rajapakse, 2013; Rajapakse, 2017; Sanjeewani, 2012). However, with the enlargement of the Colombo Port in the early 20 century A.D., Galle lost its significance as a seaport but remained an important administrative and legal centre for the South (Abeyawardana, 2004; Janakiraman, 2019).

The British adapted many of the Dutch structures inside the fort for their use and only replaced those which were no longer functional (ICOMOS, 1988; Janakiraman, 2019). They filled in ditches, added new blockhouses, and put a gate in between the Moon bastion and the Sun bastion (ICOMOS, 1988) They also sealed the moat and added a new commemorative gate in 1883 for the jubilee of Queen Victoria  (Janakiraman, 2019). Further, they built the lighthouse in 1848 (rebuilt in 1940 after it burnt down the year before), the Library Building in 1871, the Galle Gymkhana Club in 1885 on the esplanade and the Galle Railway Station in 1894 (Janakiraman, 2019). The present main entrance to the fort which is located midway through the northern rampart was opened by the British in 1873 (Abeyawardana, 2004). The present Sudharmalaya Buddhist Temple was constructed in 1889 by a wealthy Sinhalese philanthropist on a plot of land he owned within the fort (Janakiraman, 2019).

Changes after 1948 
The British left the Galle fort after Sri Lanka gained independence from them in 1948 (Sanjeewani, 2012). The remaining Burger (most are Dutch descendants) and Muslim communities re-established themselves inside the fort but many Burger families began to migrate to Australia, particularly at the end of the 1970s (Sanjeewani, 2012). Eventually, the Burghers were replaced by a sizable Sinhala community inside the fort (Sanjeewani, 2012).

Conservation of the colonial heritage
The measures to conserve the fort began with a private member’s bill in the colonial State Council, in 1940 (Sanjeewani, 2012). In 1971 the Department Of Archaeology assumed responsibility for the historic buildings in the fort while declaring the fort a protected monument in 1974 under the Antiquities Ordinance no. 9 of 1940 (Sanjeewani, 2012). In 1988 UNESCO bestowed World Heritage status on Galle Fort.

The fort
Extending in an area of 52 hectares (128.5 acres), the land area of the fort is defined by the standard grid iron pattern of streets established in all Dutch colonized cities of Asia (ICOMOS, 1988; Rajapakse, 2013; Sanjeewani, 2012). The fortification contains 14 bastions, a gateway, and a clock tower (Bohingamuwa, 2019). The majority of curtain walls have been built in 1663 and the northern fortified gate, protected by a drawbridge and a ditch, bears the date 1669 (ICOMOS, 1988). The buildings found in the fort are mainly three types, viz: residential (townhouses), public (hospitals, administrative buildings) and religious [(churches) Rajapakse, 2013]. Of them, the residential quarter consisting of townhouses forms a greater percentage of the built fabric of the fort (Rajapakse, 2013).

Although a few Portuguese structures have survived, much of the urban fabric of the present fort is from the Dutch and British periods (Janakiraman, 2019). The present Police Headquarters of the Southern Province occupies the site of the Portuguese Black Fort and there was a church called Saint Pedro in front of the present Kachcheri or the Government Agent's Office (Abeyawardana, 2004). The Roman Catholic Church built by Franciscan priests in 1544 was located at the premises where the present Islamic Mosque stands (Abeyawardana, 2004).

The Kachcheri building, the Dutch Reformed Church, the Galle Museum Building and the post office building are some of the Dutch constructions that survived within the fort to date (Abeyawardana, 2004). The original gate of the fort by the harbour still remains intact and a stone-carved Dutch VOC monogram with the date 1669 is found over its inner archway (Abeyawardana, 2004). The first church built by the Dutch within the fort was at the north end of the warehouse building (built between 1672-1676) and the bell tower (erected in 1701) of that church still can be seen (Abeyawardana, 2004).

The fort received a limited impact from the 2004 tsunami, primarily due to its strong high wall and the coral and boulder reefs around it (Bohingamuwa, 2019).

Landmarks within the fort
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Attribution
1) Galle Fort by Rovinovic is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0
2) GalleLighthouse by Keffertje08 is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

References
1) Abeyawardana, H.A.P., 2004. Heritage of Ruhuna: Major natural, cultural and historic sites. Colombo: The Central Bank of Sri Lanka. ISBN: 955-575-073-4. pp.20-23. 
2) Bohingamuwa, W., 2019. The Galle Fort World Heritage Site: A Nature-Culture Approach to the Conservation of Cultural Heritage along the Southern Coast of Sri Lanka. Journal of World Heritage Studies: Disasters and Resilience, pp.29-37.
3) ICOMOS, 1988. Advisory Body Evaluation Report: The historic city of Galle and its fortifications. UNESCO.
4) Janakiraman, A., 2019. The local identity politics of world heritage: lessons from Galle Fort in Sri Lanka (Doctoral dissertation, Massachusetts Institute of Technology). pp.21,50-52.
5) Rajapakse, A., 2013. The “Sense of Place” and diminishing living heritage in the World Heritage site of Galle Fort, Sri Lanka. In The Proceedings of the ICOMOS Thailand International Conference: Asian forgotten Heritage–Perception, Preservation and Presentation. pp.205-221.
6) Rajapakse, A., 2017. Exploring the living heritage of Galle Fort: Residents’ views on heritage values and cultural significance. Journal of Heritage Management, 2(2), pp.95-111.
7) Sanjeewani, S.L.G., 2012. The transformation of space in the Galle Fort (Sri Lanka) by its inhabitants. A thesis submitted to the graduate school in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the Degree Master of Urban and Regional Planning. Ball State University. Muncie, Indiana. pp.12-14,27-32.

Location Map
This page was last updated on 15 August 2022

Hatton National Bank Building (Colombo Fort)

Colombo Hatton National Bank Building
Colombo Hatton National Bank Building (Photo credit: Google Street View)

The old Colombo Hatton National Bank Building (Sinhala: කොළඹ හැටන් නැෂනල් බැංකු ගොඩනැගිල්ල) is located at No. 16, Janadipathi Mawatha in Colombo Fort, Sri Lanka.

This Neo-Classical building is said to have been constructed in 1901 (Manathunga, 2016). It is a two-storied building with an underground floor (Manathunga, 2016). As revealed in the early 20th century literature, this building was occupied by the Merchant Bank of India Limited and the upper floor by the Whitehall & Company (Welandawe & Weerasinghe, 2016). Later, it was occupied by the Hatton National Bank (HNB), one of the oldest banks in the country. HNB bank was established in the 19th century (1888) as a small private bank catering to the banking needs of investors in tea plantations (Manathunga, 2016; Welandawe & Weerasinghe, 2016).

See also

References
1) Manathunga, S. B., 2016. Pauranika Sthana Saha Smaraka: Kolamba Distrikkaya (In Sinhala). Department of Archaeology (Sri Lanka). ISBN: 955-9159-39-9. p.35.
2) Welandawe, H., Weerasinghe, J., 2016. Urban Heritage in the Western Region Megapolis Planning Project. p.12.

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This page was last updated on 14 August 2022

Saturday, 13 August 2022

George Steuart Building (Colombo Fort)

George Steuart Building
George Steuart Building (Photo credit: Google Street View)

The George Steuart Building (Sinhala: ජෝර්ජ් ස්ටුවර්ට් ගොඩනැගිල්ල) is located at No. 45, Hospital Street in Colombo Fort, Sri Lanka. Also known as the "Steuart House", it is one of the oldest buildings built during the British colonial period [(British Ceylon: 1815-1948) Welandawe & Weerasinghe, 2016]

The building was the headquarters of George Steuart & Co. Ltd, the first company registered in Sri  Lanka (Welandawe & Weerasinghe, 2016). The company itself was founded in 1835 by sea captain James Steuart (1790-1870) who secured the business to his brother George Steuart (1808-1896and named the firm after him. Initially emerged as a large-scale coffee producer, the company suffered a temporary setback in the early 1870s when the rust disease Hemileia vastatrix wiped out the country's coffee plantations in 1869. As a result, the company replaced coffee with tea and later became a renowned tea exporter in the country.

The building transformed into a boutique business hotel in July 2015 under the name "Steuart by Citrus". The hotel comprises fifty rooms, situated on eight floors.

References
1) Welandawe, H., Weerasinghe, J., 2016. Urban Heritage in the Western Region Megapolis Planning Project. p.12.

Location Map
This page was last updated on 13 August 2022

Friday, 12 August 2022

York Building (Colombo Fort)

York Building Colombo
York Building, Colombo (Photo credit: Google Street View)

The York Building (Sinhala: කොළඹ යෝර්ක් ගොඩනැගිල්ල) is located at No. 101, Chatham Street in Colombo Fort, Sri Lanka. It is a British period (British Ceylon: 1815-1948) building in the Palladian architectural style (Welandawe & Weerasinghe, 2016). Presently, it is used as the showroom of "Vogue Corner".

Attribution
 
References
1) Welandawe, H., Weerasinghe, J., 2016. Urban Heritage in the Western Region Megapolis Planning Project. p.52.

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This page was last updated on 12 August 2022

Thursday, 11 August 2022

Elphinstone Theatre

Elphinstone Theatre
Elphinstone Theatre (Sinhala: එල්ෆින්ස්ටන් රඟහල) is located in Maradana in Colombo District, Sri Lanka. Constructed in 1925, it is considered the second oldest theatre in the country (Welandawe & Weerasinghe, 2016). It was the venue for some of the greatest theatre productions made in Sri Lankan history (Welandawe & Weerasinghe, 2016).

See also

 
References
1) Welandawe, H., Weerasinghe, J., 2016. Urban Heritage in the Western Region Megapolis Planning Project. p.93.

Location Map
This page was last updated on 28 August 2022

Wednesday, 10 August 2022

St. James Church, Mutwal

St. James Church, Mutwal
St. James Church, Mutwal (Photo credit: Google Street View)

St. James the Great Church (Sinhala: මෝදර ශාන්ත ජේම්ස් දේවස්ථානය) is a Roman Catholic church situated in Mutwal (or Modara) in Colombo 15, Sri Lanka.

The history of this church runs back to the 19th century. It was built in 1872 to cater for the religious needs of the Roman Catholic community in the area. Peter Ilari, the first priest of the church is said to have planned the church building (De Silva & Chandrasekara, 2009).

The single-storey church building is sheltered by a high roof and a flat wooden ceiling. In the early 20th century, the whole building was re-plastered (De Silva & Chandrasekara, 2009). Except for two paintings by George Henrickus on the top corners of the ceiling, other paintings have been re-painted during the later renovations (De Silva & Chandrasekara, 2009)

References
1) De Silva, N.; Chandrasekara, D.P., 2009. Heritage Buildings of Sri Lanka. Colombo: The National Trust Sri Lanka, ISBN: 978-955-0093-01-4. p.118.

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This page was last updated on 10 August 2022

Tuesday, 9 August 2022

All Saints' Church, Hulftsdorp

All Saints' Church, Hulftsdorp
All Saints' Church, Hulftsdorp (Photo credit: Google Street View)

All Saints' Church (Sinhala: අලුත්කඩේ සියළු ශාන්තුවරයන්ගේ දේවස්ථානය) is situated at No. 222 on Hulftsdorp Street in front of the Western Province High Court in Colombo 12, Sri Lanka.

The church was established in 1860 for the Sinhala Anglican congregation in the area who wanted their own place of worship (De Silva & Chandrasekara, 2009). Designed by J. F. Churchill, the church building was constructed in 1895 by the Government Work Department under the direction of Mudaliar J. A. Perera (Manathunga, 2016).

The single-storey church building bears Gothic architectural features (De Silva & Chandrasekara, 2009; Manathunga, 2016). The two-storey bell tower is said to have been used as a watch tower during World War I [(1914-1918) De Silva & Chandrasekara, 2009].

References
1) De Silva, N.; Chandrasekara, D.P., 2009. Heritage Buildings of Sri Lanka. Colombo: The National Trust Sri Lanka, ISBN: 978-955-0093-01-4. p.117.
2) Manathunga, S. B., 2016. Pauranika Sthana Saha Smaraka: Kolamba Distrikkaya (In Sinhala). Department of Archaeology (Sri Lanka). ISBN: 955-9159-39-9. p.76.
 
Location Map
This page was last updated on 9 August 2022