First stop on our tour of Sri Lanka was Colombo. We took the Jet Airways flight 9W256 from Mumbai to Colombo. This is a direct flight and reaches Colombo at 4:45 in the morning. This enables you to have the entire day to yourself for site seeing. If you want to take the tour at a easy pace, then I guess this option is not the ideal one. We were put up at the Global Towers. Have put a detailed review of the hotel here.
After a brief interval to freshen up in the hotel, we began our local site-seeing tour. Local site seeing covered the popular Pettah Market, the famous Muslim Mosque down 2nd Cross street, old colonial buildings in Fort, old
Parliament of Sri Lanka, the popular Galle Face, Town Hall and the Independence Square where Sri Lanka gained independence from the British in 1948. All except the Independence Square were 'done' sitting in the bus.
One option that we had selected as part of local site seeing was a trip to Kelaniya Rajamaha Viharaya. It is believed that this is one of the 3 places in Sri Lanka that were visited by Buddha. Buddha visited the site to quell a quarrel between two Naga princes who were fighting over a jewelled throne. After Buddha showed them the futility of their quarrel, both of them converted to Buddhism and
offered the throne to Buddha. Buddha refused the offer.A pagoda was built at the site. This throne was buried in it as a relic. The pagoda was destroyed by the Portuguese in the 16th century. It was later rebuilt in the 18th century during the Dutch rule. The temple has very good painting depicting important historical scenes. You can also see the statue of sleeping Buddha over here.
It is traditionally believed that Vibhishana, Ravana's brother, moved the capital of the kingdom to Kelaniya after Ravana's defeat. There is a shrine dedicated to Vibhishana here.
We had our lunch at Green Palace Hotel which is very near the Global Towers. I would recommend it for its Indian fare. It is economical. Especially loved the Chole Bhature there.
More photos below