August 2019


Discover Pettah on Foot
August 2019




Bustling Main Street in Pettah offers a colourful variety of goods.

Pettah is a maze of streets buzzing with activity. It is full of life as sellers promote their wares, and customers bargain for the best price. Large heaps of goods can be found, never in small quantities. The prices are great and you can find almost anything you want. While in Colombo make sure to spend at least a few hours in Pettah to feel the energy that vibes through.

Words: Udeshi Amarasinghe.
Photography: Menaka Aravinda.

The flow of people is almost hypnotic, as everyone hurries so that the pace of movement is not hindered. Vehicles too try their luck through the maze but to explore Pettah the best way to do so is on foot.


We started from Main Street, discovering the many stores selling sarees, fabric, beautiful lace and much more. There was heaps of foreign chocolates too! Along the way vendors were offering freshly cut mangoes, dragon fruit, pomegranate and crunchy hot vadais. This was definitely going to be a wonderful experience. The majestic Red Mosque built during the early 1900s, rises above the many stores on Main Street, there is a sense of calmness as people pass-by.


We ventured down 2nd Cross Street along the path that adjoins the mosque. Shops selling various types of merchandise caught our attention. Mouth-watering Middle Eastern sweets, spicy achcharus and the aroma of freshly fried manioc chips enticed our senses. With a bag full of manioc chips we continued on our adventure, on the adjoining 1st Cross Street, we passed shops with flowers and the Sammangodu Sri Kathirvelayuthaswamy Kovil came into view. Further down we went, zig zagging to avoid the traffic of people and vehicles. The sounds of bargaining reached a tempo as the day progressed, with vendors wanting to sell their stock before the end of day.

We reached the old market and old town hall with a quaint museum, both reflecting beautiful colonial architecture 
and cooling interiors.


On Keyzer Street, the aromatic fragrances of spices and dry goods filled the air. Red chilies, turmeric, onions and garlic could be found in large quantities...sack upon sack. Types of gram such as lentil, mung beans, chickpeas, red beans and much more were neatly arranged in rows. Large lorries unloaded sacks of goods, with Nattamis transporting the loads on their strong backs or long trolleys. We were soon passing stalls selling a variety of dry fish as well as prawns. The strong pungent smell of the ocean tingling our noses.


We then headed to fresh produce market on 5th Cross Street that was full of colourful fruits and vegetables. All Saints Church and Sri Bodhiraja Viharaya came into our view.


The sun was receding into the sky as we reached the old market and old town hall with a quaint museum, both reflecting beautiful colonial architecture and cooling interiors. There was much to see. Stepping back on to the road, we realised we had reach the Gas Paha Handiya, there are two roundabouts where almost five streets converge. The names of the street changing with each turn. On Sea Street, anything and everything you want in gold can be found glittering from the glass facades. We circled back to the Main Street, passing the old Kayman's Gate Bell Tower, inconspicuous in the hive of modern buildings and buzzing throng of the crowds. We ended our afternoon in Pettah with a well deserved cooling faluda and spicy Sri Lankan snacks as the sun receded into the sky.

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    The Fort Railway Station is a short distance away from Pettah and the World Market is right next door. From where-ever you are travelling, you could hop off in Fort and explore Pettah.

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    The Fort Railway Station is a short distance away from Pettah and the World Market is right next door. From where-ever you are travelling, you could hop off in Fort and explore Pettah.

    Prev Next
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    The Fort Railway Station is a short distance away from Pettah and the World Market is right next door. From where-ever you are travelling, you could hop off in Fort and explore Pettah.

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    Capture wonderful photo moments when exploring Pettah on foot.

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    The majestic Red Mosque built during the early 1900s.

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    Sammangodu Sri Kathirvelayuthaswamy Kovil on 1st Cross Street.

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    Nattamis transporting goods are a common sight.

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    Spicy fruit achcharu to munch on while in Pettah.

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    The quaint museum within the colonial old town hall premises.

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