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Parks and Gardens of Colombo

Beira Lake, The recently restored Beira Lake covers the districts of Colpetty, Slave Island and Maradana (Colombo 3, 2 and 10). The part of the lake most easily enjoyed from the shoreline promenade is the Colpetty enclosure, framed by Sir James Pieris Mawatha (east), Perahera Mawatha (south) and Navam Mawatha (north). Of note are the little cormorant and spotted-bill pelican populations. The latter is a nationally threatened species.

Galle Face Green, a wide spread of land was originally used by the British army as a parade ground - and an execution place for mutinous soldiers. Today this open space serves as an ideal spot for lovers who hide from gazing crowds and the sun behind umbrellas; a playground for children with roadside vendors selling brightly coloured balloons, kites, toys, soft drinks and ices; an arena for professional to debate issues of the day; and a popular hangout for teenagers. During the evenings, one can enjoy the colourful kites flying in the sky and eat from the varied vendors who sell banana chips and fried lentils. Gale Face has no barriers; over the years many political rallies and musical extravaganzas have been hosted at the venue. Used for horse racing a century ago, and the promenade along the sea, which stretches for nearly a mile, was built in 1859 by the British Governor Sir Henry Ward for 'the ladies and children of Colombo'. Thanks to his foresight, the Green retains much of its old charm, with no buildings to mar the beauty of the wide open space.

Viharamahadevi Park Once known as Victoria Park, this British-landscaped oasis was established as a botanical garden and conservatory for tropical species. Colombo’s richest display of woody plants, it is still an excellent habitat for birds, butterflies and some mammals (rodents, palm squirrels, and flying fox bats). The park abuts Town Hall, in Cinnamon Gardens (Colombo 7), between Ananda Coomaraswamy Mawatha (south) and Dharmapala Mawatha (north).

Kanatta General Cemetery & Ridgeway Golf Links, These adjacent expanses of green, also known as Borella Cemetery and the Royal Colombo Golf Club, are retreats for both animals and human appreciators of nature. Situated in Borella (Colombo 8), east of Elvitigala Mawatha (Baseline Road) and south of Bauddhaloka Mawatha, the cemetery is open to all. Permission must be requested for entry to the golf links southeast of the cemetery and accessed via Venerable Pelpola Vipassi Himi Mawatha.

Avenue Plantations In Cinnamon Gardens between Vihara Mahadevi Park and Borella Cemetery, the rural allure of the original Dutch plantations was retained by the British and new exotic trees were added to the indigenous mix. Today, serene thoroughfares like Wijerama Mawatha and Gregory’s Road are shaded by towering foliage and enlivened by birds and butterflies. Large villas along Albert Crescent and Horton Place have visible home gardens as they are called, which foster the sense of nature with fruit-bearing and flowering vegetation.

Talangama Tank This beyond-the-city-frontiers wetland—whose surface is often covered with the lily-like leaf of the lotus yam—east of Battaramulla is well worth the effort to get to. Pictorial posters designed by the University of Colombo’s Field Ornithology Group of Sri Lanka and the Overseas School of Colombo describe the area’s abundant flora and fauna.

The Dehiwala Zoo is one of Colombo’s special attractions and is spread over 37 acres. Set amongst trees, shrubs, flowers and lakes, approx. 2000 animals can be viewed. The zoo has a Reptile House Aviary, Nocturnal House, Butterfly Park and Swan Pond. The Mini Medura Aquarium displays over 500 species of fish. Visitors can also enjoy watching the Seal and Elephant show that is held daily in the evenings.

The Muthurajawela Marsh is Sri Lanka’s largest saline wetlands. Situated north of Colombo, it is spread over 3100 hectares and is full of mangroves and varied species of butterflies and birds. The marsh is popular for bird-watching enthusiasts.


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