Destinations

Colombo

The name ‘Colombo’, first introduced by the Portuguese in 1505, is believed to be derived from the classical Sinhala name Kolon thota, meaning “port on the river Kelani”.

Another belief is that the name is derived from the Sinhala name Kola-amba-thota which means ’Harbour with leafy/green mango trees’.This coincides with Robert Knox’s history of the island while he was a prisoner in Kandy. He writes that, “On the West the City of Columbo, so called from a Tree the Natives call Ambo, (which bears the Mango-fruit) growing in that place; but this never bare fruit, but only leaves, which in their Language is Cola and thence they called the Tree Colambo: which the Christians in honour of Columbus turned to Columbo.

As Colombo possesses a natural harbour, it was known to Indian, Greek, Persian, Roman, Arab, and Chinese traders over 2,000 years ago. Traveller Ibn Battuta who visited the island in the 14th century, referred to it as Kalanpu.

Colombo’s cosmopolitan side supports ever-more stylish eateries, galleries and museums. Surprises abound in its old quarters where you can find great local food and discover a characterful shop or tiny, convivial cafe. The capital is an excellent start – or finish – to your Sri Lankan adventure.

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