Fondly known as ‘Little Rome’, Negombo was one of the most famous beach destinations in Sri Lanka way before Unawatuna and the southern coast gained popularity. Over the decades the landscape around the area has seen much change but still retains its position as a favoured spot amongst the locals and foreigners alike.
Although known for its sandy shores that stretch for miles, there’s more to Negombo than meets the eye. Exploring its hidden gems is Agurukaramulla Temple, which was built in the 18th century and houses some of the paintings done by famed local artist, Solias Mendis. The detail in these paintings and statues is by far some of the best I have seen amongst the many temples I have visited over the years.
The centre of attraction at Agurukaramulla is a statue which was gifted by Burma back in the day and legend goes to say that the statue was in fact destined for another temple located further away from Negombo. On route to the temple, the cart had broken down closer to the Agurukaramulla temple and the transporters had to spend the night at the temple. The next day as a token of appreciation for the kindness extended to them by the monks, the men decided to gift the statue to the Agurukaramulla temple instead.
A visit to the local church is a must when you’re in Negombo because after all it’s not known as ‘Little Rome’ for nothing. The St. Mary’s Church in Negombo is a catholic church that was first built by the Portuguese and later demolished by the Dutch. The present structure is the third church built on behalf of the original structure.
Some of the most beautiful paintings and stained glasses are adorned at this church. The main highlight at St. Mary’s is the painting on the ceiling done by a local artist by the name of M. N. Godamanne from 1945 -1947 which depicts several characters including Mother Mary and God surrounded by angels.
The Dutch Fort which had gone through several changes from the first time it was erected in 1600 by the Portuguese, then captured by the Dutch in 1644 and renovated in 1678. Very little remains of this Fort that stood strong once upon a time. The hoarding on the remaining structure indicates that it had a bastion and two entrances but was converted into the Negombo prison several years ago.
Lellama is another hotspot in Negombo, known as the second-largest fish market on the island. If you’re keen on seeing how it operates it’s best to visit the place at the crack of dawn when the fish are hauled in fresh from the boats and business begins.
Food and hospitality that Negombo was famed for and headed straight to Lewis Place, the tourist strip of Negombo where a number of cafes and restaurants flanked either side of the road.
Ice Bear Guesthouse, which has been in operation for over 20 years. With outdoor seating with direct views of the beach, Ice Bear offers a variety of dishes and beverages. The grilled seafood platter which could easily serve for three was less than Rs 2000. The platter includes copious amounts of prawns, cuttlefish, tiger prawns, crabs and tuna fillets served with French fries and salad on the side.
For desserts Pancake House which serves up homemade pancakes with some interesting combinations on the side.
To get-away from the bustling city life in Colombo, hop on to a bus and head straight to Negombo to chill, catch up on some beach time, history and don’t forget to try that seafood platter!
Stay in Negombo
YOHO hotels in Negombo offers affordable accommodation overlooking the sea, with an air-conditioned room, Wi-Fi, hot water, breakfast, and swimming pool facilities. The accommodation is in walking distance to the main city.