Explore Colombo’s fascinating multi-cultural society on this guided walking tour, led by a local host who grew up in Colombo and who has an extensive knowledge of the four main religions which are practiced in Sri Lanka – Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam and Christianity. The walk lasts approximately 2 – 2.5 hours (although this can be tailored to your individual preferences) and includes visits to a temple, a kovil, a church and mosque, as well as an experience of Pettah, a huge, lively market located just outside of Colombo Fort which is home to a number of historic buildings. Discover the complexities of Colombo’s modern-day culture whilst listening to intriguing stories about the city’s past, and get an insight into the rich modern-day society of Sri Lanka’s capital.
The walk begins at the Seema Malaka, a Buddhist temple which appears to float on the waters of Beira Lake, part of the majestic Gangaramaya, one of the most prominent temples in Colombo. Originally built towards the end of the 19th century before being redesigned and reconstructed by famous architect Geoffrey Bawa, it houses several Buddha statues in a variety of styles from around the world and – seemingly strangely – four statues of Hindu gods. From this restful spot, take a short tuk tuk ride to a Hindu temple which is unique in its plain, stone exterior, completely distinct from the multi-coloured statues which usually adorn the walls of a kovil. Explore the cool, dark interiors and discover why this kovil is so distinct in design to the others scattered across Colombo.
From here, walk through the bustling streets around the Fort towards a Catholic church dedicated to Saint Anthony and see how this Portuguese building has grown and adapted over the last 500 years. The final religious building, a dramatic red-and-white-striped mosque, of this tour lies on the other side of Pettah, a vibrant, sprawling bazaar just outside Colombo Fort which sells almost anything you can think of. It is separated into streets dedicated to a particular type of product: walk down a road lined with jewellery stores, from tiny stalls to historic shops, all selling gold. Stop at an Indian restaurant along the way for a refreshing cup of chai tea and absorb the exciting, chaotic atmosphere of Pettah, before heading to the spectacular Jami Ul-Alfar Mosque to end the walk.