Colombo is powering up to become the coolest tropical metropolitan city in Asia, especially now the Lotus Tower in the centre of the city is capturing the limelight, many visitors remarking that it is Sri Lanka’s equivalent to the Eiffel Tower. It is a wonderful addition to Colombo’s vertical neon city skyline, bursting with colourful […]
Pool with a view: Cityscape from Jetwing Colombo 7
Colombo is powering up to become the coolest tropical metropolitan city in Asia, especially now the Lotus Tower in the centre of the city is capturing the limelight, many visitors remarking that it is Sri Lanka’s equivalent to the Eiffel Tower.
It is a wonderful addition to Colombo’s vertical neon city skyline, bursting with colourful lights and terrific nightlife. It’s not only a panoramic viewing platform with amazing cityscapes and fantastic bird’s eye views of Colombo, but also the tallest building in South Asia at 1,150 feet, with radio and television antennae for up to 55 stations.
For locals, the tower is already a big hit and seen as one of the most popular attractions currently in Colombo, due to its central location on the waterfront by Beira Lake.
Lotus Tower: New addition to Colombo’s skyline. Pix by Juliet Coombe
However, if you don’t like queueing, and love exceptionally good home-grown food inspired by over 2,500 years of island cuisine, head for the Virticle res- taurant by Jetwing, only a year old, but already a top spot to spend a night out. A truly funky eleventh floor venue, providing one of the best views in Colombo of the Lotus Tower, within minutes of sitting down at one of their open air tables, on which you will find upcycled newspaper mats, you can enjoy a light show like no other, while eating a crunchy ambarella salad, Sri Lanka’s version of a Waldorf, only with drumstick leaves, honey and lime dressing, which in many ways is much healthier. Or try their Nelum lotus root salad to be in keeping with the voodoo of the location, to which they add green onion and homemade mango chutney. If you fancy something meatier, the crispy slow-cooked pork is mouthwateringly good.
Virticle have also created their own funky light show in the chilled out open air deck, where on a giant screen, that has ever-changing patterns you can also take in Colombo’s neonscape in all directions. Here I discover most people come on Fridays to listen to different bands and eat Barramundi fish with coconut treacle, chutney or battered prawns with heirloom rice, which are equally delicious. For dessert, my indulgent cashew nut fudge and cinnamon ice cream is a tropical version of a brownie, and adding cardamon ice cream into the mix will spice up any evening out. They have also found new ways to dish up watalappan by deep frying it, and how about baked curd?
If vertical living is your thing, you will also enjoy Jetwing Colombo 7, where you can swim in a pool that feels like you are gliding, Superman style, through the high rise buildings of Colombo. Then book a tour with Colombo by Jeep to get an up close and personal tour of the city.
Top of the world: Bird’s eye view from Lotus Tower
When exploring Colombo Fort discover equally epic views that include the new Port City and the horse stables powered by solar, run by the Ceylon Riding Club, which is the first business to take up residence there.
As the city continues to reinvent itself, for those who love the more traditional street level action, there’s plenty of life still at a horizontal level like in Pettah market, where trading continues at a frenetic pace unchanged for hundreds of years.
A walk in Pettah is like entering an ancient United Nations, where everyone is selling something and life is always buzzy and exciting. The best place to start a tour is at the Dutch Period Museum at 95 Prince Street, Colombo 1. Constructed in 1658, the building is a remarkable example of Dutch colonial architecture, complete with heavy wooden doors, giant iron hinges and towering white columns supporting a high roof of terracotta tiles and wooden beams, which in its day would have been highly sought after and admired architecturally.
The building now a museum houses interesting artefacts from the Dutch era. Once the Dutch governor’s home away from home, this 17th century monolith of Dutch fortitude now looks a little out of place against the chaotic daily traffic on Prince Street, and its complex of rooms looks slightly tired, despite the last restoration. You will discover from the curator that the walls of this historic house were witness to a pivotal moment in history: the signing of the agreement between the Dutch and King Rajasingha of Kandy, to open the entire coastline for trade.
Dutch museum: Imposing structure in bustling Pettah
The museum also provides evidence of the resulting Dutch ‘ownership’ of the coastline, which can be seen from the territory emblems and maps, lying in displays beneath dusty Dutch chandeliers hanging from wooden-planked ceilings.  After you browse the coins, jewellery and antique furniture upstairs, craning your neck to read the explanations written in bewilderingly tiny print on A4 paper along the walls, step onto the balcony to look out over the internal courtyard garden, which has the original pulley well with wooden bucket to bring up water and a grassy garden full of cardamom and cinnamon plants, which were, at one time, equivalent in value to gold.
From the Dutch museum, you are free to walk to the Cross streets and enjoy their network of food stalls and as you explore further you will discover the original colonial bell tower, as well as remnants of Colombo Fort’s outer old city wall. Here in Pettah there are so many sites, smells and vibrant sounds to enjoy of traders trading in cloth, coconuts and a sea of colourful spices so get out there and discover it for yourself.
Send Email to Friend
Searching for an ideal partner? Find your soul mate on Hitad.lk, Sri Lanka’s favourite marriage proposals page. With Hitad.lk matrimonial advertisements you have access to thousands of ads from potential suitors who are looking for someone just like you.
Print Edition – The Sunday Times, Sri Lanka

source

Shop Sephari