As evening becomes dusk, the quaint paths twinkle with dazzling lights, toe-tapping music can be heard, and the streets come alive! At the end of a hectic working day we headed towards the ‘happening’ streets in and around Fort to catch a glimpse of its cosmopolitan beauty and lively atmosphere.
Words Darrshini Parthepan and Swetha Rathnajothi
Photographs Menaka Aravinda and Vishwathan Tharmakulasingam
With its sky-high facades featuring iconic geometric shapes and the blossoming Lotus Tower which is in its final stage, the dramatic skyline of Colombo added to the charm of the evening. As we were leisurely walking along Chatham Street, the majestic sight of the Victorian clock tower located at the centre of a crossroads caught our attention. Built during the colonial era, a clock tower and (former) lighthouse, it is said that this is the only such dual-role tower in the world. We walked past the island’s Big Ben admiring its shimmering golden globe on top.
Opposite the clock tower lies the most splendid building on Chatham Street; Central Point. The stately façade of the historic landmark stood with colonial splendour against the striking backdrop of the night.
Just a few steps away from the Central Point building stands an elaborately decorated elephant at the entrance of Spa Ceylon Royal Heritage Store and Urban Spa. As day slowly gives way to night, the vibrant exterior is illuminated, lighting up the street with charm. Browse through its vast range of artistically packaged aromatic merchandise while enjoying the soothing Ceylonese melodies. Or get refreshed and rejuvenated at the luxuriously laid out spa indulging in natural goodness.
The next-door t-Lounge by Dilmah is the ideal place to relax over a steaming cup of Ceylon tea or to relish tea inspired delicacies. The aroma of freshly brewed tea and warmth of fresh bakes whiff through the air and the ambience is a delightful fusion of stylish and enthusing.
Along Central Point is a quaint lane that leads into the happening Hospital Street and it runs alongside the stately Dutch Hospital building. The bubbly and energetic experience begins on its brightly lit cobbled entrance. As night crawlers trickle in, drawn to the evening enchantments of the street, there is so much that awaits, within its thick walls. Laughter and chatter can be heard as the crowd seated at the Dutch Hospital enjoy the toe-tapping music played by the acoustic bands.
We first headed to the Ministry of Crab at Dutch Hospital, a restaurant by Chef Dharshan Munidasa and cricketers, Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardena. An iconic crab insignia adorns the space and tantalising aromas of flavoursome dishes tingle the taste buds. The restaurant has been known for its delectable Sri Lankan mud crab dishes, cooked to perfection and savoured by seafood aficionados. At Ministry of Crab, all you have to do is roll up your sleeves and dig in to taste and relish the succulent crabs with every bite!
Located next to MoC, is Next Innings, yet another culinary venture introduced by the same trio, Chef Dharshan Munidasa and cricketers, Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardena. The chic and stylish ambience invites guests to a treat of sports displayed on large screens. The space is exclusively created for sports fans to watch any sport they wish to, while indulging in a truly lively environment with good food. The menu is a combination between sports pub and lounge cuisine from various countries including hot chilli prawns, batter fried prawns, prawn cocktail, onion rings, burgers, hotdogs, cheese toasts as well as traditional Neapolitan pizzas.
Next, we visited the Colombo Fort Café which is a quiet oasis of relaxation and privacy, enlivened by the murmur of conversations and the clinking of glasses. With an inviting selection of decadent dishes and refreshing beverages, the café takes the patrons on an exciting culinary journey.
Our next stop was the delightful Luv SL that invites you to select from a collection of vibrant gifts and clothing. The exquisitely handcrafted items will definitely add sparkle to your personal collection or gift.
TGIF welcomed us warmly. Groups of twos and threes, including families were indulging in mouthwatering continental dishes while sipping on tropical cocktails. The atmosphere transforms as music is played by a three-piece band ensuring hours of entertainment and leisure for everyone.
The exotic Botanik Bistro and Bar situated on the rooftop of the Fairway Colombo was our next destination. The tropical charm of the décor brings a sense of soothing warmth and adds an aura of glamour. The bird’s eye view from the outdoor bar is fascinating as it unfolds a striking canvas of the city. Guests can enjoy the chic atmosphere and the spacious setting, where the three main areas – the contemporary bistro, rooftop terrace and the veranda provide unique seating areas.
Fairway Colombo is a trendy and vibrant city hotel on Hospital Street. The striking white building with its modern features blends perfectly with the colonial charm in the heart of Colombo. Throughout the evening hours, guests are seen frequently visiting the food court, pubs and cafes with families.
Housed in a brilliant white yet tiny building is the Pizza Hut on Chatham Street. As we walked in, the sweet aroma of freshly baked pizza enticed our nostrils. From classic to signature, Pizza Hut has it all, along with scrumptious toppings and flavours. You could even opt for their delightful pasta and the calzones range.
Upon reaching Mudalige Mawatha, we strolled along the quiet lanes, which carry the aura of the colonial era. The lane had many money changers and banks and numerous buildings under renovation to maintain their colonial charm.
As we walked along, we soon reached the white edifice of the General Post Office and the elegant and beautiful buildings and gardens of the President’s House.
We bid adieu to the night, making plans to definitely visit again!
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