Exploring markets comes high on Nick’s list of pleasurable activities and so he was delighted to learn that he could see the weekly Hikkadua market before leaving on Sunday.
Jackfruits being used in all the different ways – the outer part for cooking and the inner for eating raw.
A selection of lethal hand made knives
Dried Fish varieties
And what better for Maggie on a rainy day in Colombo than to visit the National Museum with its fine archaeological and historical collections? Opened in 1877, it now houses material from Anamadahpura and other ancient Sri Lankan sites, the royal regalia and throne of the last Kings of Kandy, Colonial material and much else.
A ninth century Buddha
The God Surya from AmanadhapuraBodhisativa sandals, bronze, 9th c AD
Throne of the last Kings of Kandy
Of great interest is a worn, not very exciting looking, but unusual trilingual inscription in Chinese, Tamil and Persian. This was erected at Galle in 1409 during the third visit to the city of the early Ming dynasty Admiral Zheng He, and commemorated his second visit there, when at a mountain temple he made offerings of gold, silver, embroidered silk, incense burners, scented oils and other luxury items. He also invoked the blessings of various deities for a peaceful world based on trade. The stela was found in 1911.
Time was limited during our traffic clogged drive to the museum, but nevertheless we were able to take in some landmarks, including the Neo-Classical Presidential Secretariat, now almost dwarfed by a nearby structure; the clock tower, which was originally a lighthouse; the Colonial period President’s house and other government offices as well as several faded but still ornate heritage buildings, among them the 1906 Cargills Main Store.
Colombo is a city rapidly changing with much new building, now cheek by jowl with old buildings that will doubtless soon be replaced. However, here, as everywhere else in the country, there were Buddhist and Hindu temples, mosques and Christian churches all functioning, all given equal status and several flower decked corner shrines, Buddhist, Hindu and Christian. At a time when many countries are in the grip of sectarian violence, the Sri Lankan people set an example of real tolerance.
We said ‘au revoir’ to this extremely interesting country over a light lunch and drinks at the country’s oldest hostelry, the Galle Face Hotel, a visit which Nick had been promising himself ever since we had landed in Sri Lanka….