Many of us have been on the receiving end of conversations about the-Sri-Lanka-that-was. How life used to be, whole meals for 2 Rupees or less, children of the whole neighbourhood playing on the same street or playground closeby and an entire era before mobile phones and social media. They love talking about the times that were as much as they loved living in it. Below are a few images aimed at keeping the Sri Lanka of what they like to call the “golden era” alive.
WELLAWATTE RAILWAY STATION – Year 165
As seen in the picture above, the Wellawatte railway station has clearly seen better days. Though quite far away from its “handsome” days the Wellawatte Station is still very much in its prime with close to 90 trains entering and leaving it on a daily basis. This number increases on Poya days and other special festivals.
THE KELANI BRIDGE – 1900
The Kelani bridge is the most popular route to Colombo for those who come from the Central Province. According to research, nearly 200,000 vehicles cross the Kelani bridge every day presently. These numbers increasing drastically during holidays and festivals prompting talks on widening it starting on 2014, currently an ongoing project, to result in Sri Lanka’s first-ever state of the art suspension bridge.
BANDARANAYAKE INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT – 1982
Starting its journey as an airfield for the Royal Air Force (RAF) during the Second World War, the BIA has come a long way from that to be the main International Airport serving Sri Lanka.
Named after the former Prime Minister S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike the airport is now the busiest airport in the country with flights to over 45 destinations daily serving over 6 million passengers annually.
THE KANDY SKYLINE – 1978
The skyline of Kandy has changed vastly to include many high-end hotels and hotel chains. Beyond the city of Kandy, a cloudy forest and tropical plantations roll across the mountain slopes providing plenty of hiking and wildlife-watching opportunities. Kandy has been developed around two open spaces: an elongated square, at the end of which, are the administration buildings of the old capital, and an artificial lake that is quadrangular in form. The Peradeniya Gardens adds to the openness of the city’s spatial organization.
THE KANDY TOWN – 1980
Kandy, popularly known as the Hill Capital of the country, is the last capital of the ancient kings’ era of Sri Lanka. Rising around a scenic lake, UNESCO-listed Kandy is home to sacred landmarks, landscaped gardens, and cultural museums. Presently it is also home to many local and international brands especially with the emergence of the Kandy City Centre. Its geographic location has made it a major transportation hub on the island and therefore can be reached by major motorways in every direction of the island.
THE TOWN OF GALLE – 1981
Galle was built as a fortified coastal city with large walls along the seashore. It was designed with a European way of thinking – that attacks from colonial competitors could come from the sea as well as the land. Battlements along the walls provide the means for defence in case of an invasion. The settlement that the Dutch built inside the walls is what mainly remains today. The grid layout with wide roads and low buildings is reminiscent of the architecture in Holland at the time.
PIGEON ISLAND, MATARA – 1890
Connected to the land side by an attractive hanging bridge the island is famous for the “Parawi Duwa Temple” that occupies it. Frequently visited by devotees, students at the temple and nature lovers for the cooling breeze and an amazing better view Pigeon Island is almost impossible to reach during the monsoon season.
The landscape and skyline of Sri Lanka have been through many changes throughout the years. With the change in lifestyles and requirements, there has also been a change in the cost of living. While knowledge of the last century can act as good conversation starters and ice breakers when hanging out with older aunts and uncles. There is no point in reminiscing in the past as through all these changes, the one thing that has remained constant is the friendly nature and culture of the Sri Lankans.