It was painful to watch the aftermath of carnage at St Sebastian’s Church in Negombo. For that matter, heart pained for Sri Lanka as a whole. No innocent people need to die this way anywhere in the world. This bloodshed takes us nowhere but to more bloodshed. It has to end. Period!
I felt a connect to Negombo as soon as I heard about the incident. I spent my first night at Negombo on my first trip to Sri Lanka exactly ten years back in 2009. So, my first impressions for this beautiful island nation came from Negombo. It was a also the starting point of a memorable almost a week long road trip of the island nation.
Also read: An orphanage for the mighty at Pinnawala
As a traveler and travel writer, this Sri Lanka trip starting from Negombo was also a sort of coming of age type trip, having taught me many new things. Although I feel that time spent in Negombo didn’t justify the beauty of place and it was just a starting point for journey to other famed places of the country, still few frames are still in the mind. Will try to go through them in this post, as my tribute to Negombo.
Since we stayed on a beach resort and arrived late in night from our flight from Delhi to Colombo, hence beach was the first thing I got to see in the morning. It was very impressive, serene and calm, with sail boats in the sea.
Memories from Sri Lanka: Ramparts of Galle – Withstanding time & nature
We visited Negombo fortress in the morning. It was constructed by the Portuguese in the year 1600 but was captured by the Dutch in 1644, who kept on developing it as per their requirements. This fortress has all hallmarks of a Dutch Fortress with a bastion and two entrances. It also had a special store to keep cinnamon. Then, in 1796, Britishers snatched the Negombo fort from the Dutch. They demolished many buildings built by the Dutch and turned them into prison cells. Now only the main entrance to the fort remains (above) and the old clock tower (below). There is also an old ammunition store. There is also an old Bodhi Tree, which is said to grown from a sapling of original Maha Bodhi tree. As per folklores, this was planted during rein of King Valagamba.
I also remember Negombo for the trip to its Fish market. Known locally as ‘Lellama’ this is said to be Sri Lanka’s biggest fish market. I was born in a vegetarian family and though became more open about food preferences later, still fish or sea-food has not been food of my choice. Our visit to Negombo fish market was during the early morning trading time.
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But to overcome my handicap, I instinctively went inside the market in the middle of piles of all types of fishes, prawns, oysters, crabs, octopus and perhaps everything else that goes down by the name of sea food. I kept talking to fishermen as well as traders present in the market. It was a day of important life lessons for me. During all my travels before and after that till now, that has been my only visit to a sea food market of that scale.
A short stay at Negombo was worth a lot in that trip. I always felt that I need to come back to the place sometime later. Don’t know, when it will be. For now, I hope the city gets strength to bear the loss- loss of belief, confidence and conviction. Hope it springs back to life, stronger than before.
More from that Sri Lankan trip: Peradeniya, Kandy – Much beyond a Botanical garden.
Have you been to Negombo and seen the churches and the beach here? Share your experiences in the comments section below.
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