September 2019


Rooftop Views of Colombo
September 2019




Views from Altair, the tallest apartment and condominium skyscraper affords vistas of all the new developments in Colombo.

Colombo is a continuously evolving metropolis. From soaring high-rise apartments, luxury hotels, colonial buildings to city parks, and the Galle Face Green facing the Indian Ocean, the city offers impressive rooftop sights to the visitor.

Words: Gayathri Kothalawala.
Photography: Menaka Aravinda.

The wind playfully teased us as we viewed Colombo from a higher elevation. Far below, a train was winding among the buildings and streets of the city, while the blue roof of the Seemamalakaya contrasted beautifully with the jade green waters of the Beira Lake. We realised that the small white dots bobbing on the water near the small island were swan boats. The ground at the Moors Sports Club was extensive, and yet, the players appeared tiny from our vantage point. Town Hall and the Viharamahadevi Park were distinctive landmarks, as were the Nelum Pokuna Performing Arts Theatre, the BMICH, and the Lotus Tower (literally Nelum Kuluna in Sinhala, it resembles the blossom of a lotus flower and its stalk), which we were enthusiastically spotting from different directions.

As we approached the heights of our next vantage point, our attention was immediately claimed by an exclusive sight that you can only enjoy from high-rise buildings; the full-scale of the Port City. The sandy construction area looked enormous - more expansive than it appears from the ground level. Surrounding the landscape, the Indian Ocean was smooth blue silk, tranquil apart from the waves that broke near the shore.

Stretching to Mount Lavinia and beyond, the Galle Road was bustling with vehicles going to-and-fro. We amused ourselves by trying to spot the familiar landmarks. Gazing up, we realised that the pinnacles of the Bank of Ceylon (BOC) Head Office, and the World Trade Centre (WTC) were closer than ever. Indeed, from where we stood, the buildings appeared as giants, standing as silent guardians over the city. Looking down, we observed the passing cars, buses, tuk-tuks, vans and pedestrians.

Once back on the road, with the sun still ruling over the heavens, we leisurely strolled towards the Dutch Hospital, to discover what the views would be from a greater height. The renovated colonial building seemed to provide a calm haven in the busy city. The courtyard of the Dutch Hospital was below us, and crowds already seemed to be gathering, ready to indulge in an evening out with friends and family.

The Lotus Tower emerged to our left. As one by one the street lamps and buildings began to light up, the city came alive. And then the Lotus Tower put on a fantastic show to delight our eyes; the lights that adorned its petals displayed various patterns. In celebration of its 80th anniversary, the iconic BOC Tower too dazzled with light. Despite the hour, the WTC was also glamorously lit up. The towering buildings were like brilliant gems against the night sky and seemed to contribute to the liveliness of the nighttime.

In contrast to the sparkling night, the serene Colombo Fort Temple, distinguished by its pristine white, emanated a sense of peace at the heart of a busy street. Rising above treetops, the stupa too was lit up in warm yellow tones, adding to the serenity.

As night fell we returned to the second location, to see how the night had transformed the Galle Face Green. Over the horizon, the clouds were gathering, creating a striking contrast to the glittering light all around us. The road, a black ribbon in the daylight, now seemed to be a stream of white and red lights.

Below us, the still waters of the Beira Lake reflected the dazzling lights of the nearby buildings. Looking at the activity that was taking place around us, it was evident that Colombo is a city that rarely rests. We playfully debated on the exact number of light bulbs that are used in the city.

Once the night settled like a warm blanket over the city, tiny pinpricks of light from passing ships twinkled on the horizon. In defiance of the clouds, one or two stars also peeked at us from their spots in the sky.

Having viewed Colombo from a different perspective, we could see how the city had seamlessly combined the old and the new. Timeless buildings such as the Old Parliament stood side by side with glamorous high-rise buildings and luxury hotels. Returning from the heights that afforded us such stunning views, we wondered what stories these buildings had to tell and the views that were yet to be discovered.

Support for photography provided by Altair, Galadari Hotel Colombo and Botanik Rooftop Bistro & Bar.

 

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    As evening approaches, enjoy the artistic contrast of the night sky.

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    Higher elevations offer panoramic and dazzling views of Colombo.

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    The serene Colombo Fort Temple.

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    The sparkling Lotus Tower is a mesmerising sight.

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    The lively ambience surrounding the Dutch Hospital, WTC and the BOC Tower heighten the energetic aura of the city.

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