select - Colonial Character
Written by Brian Johnston
Countries may have gladly gained their independence, but a legacy of the colonial era is often still preserved as part of their history. Whether it’s on the sports field, on the table, or in the architecture of everything from churches to train stations, colonial remnants are always full of character.
For a taste of Sri Lanka’s colonial history, the Portuguese- and later Dutch-era Fort is today’s CBD and home to luxury hotels and government offices. It’s here you’ll find many colonial buildings, including department stores, former barracks, and the Old Parliament House, as well as the landmark Clock Tower – which used to be a lighthouse. When it comes to street shopping, nothing beats the stalls of nearby Pettah,
but here you will also find
the Dutch Period Museum, housed in a 17th-century governor’s residence. Also fascinating are St. Anthony’s Church and the enormous
St. Lucia’s Cathedral – the latter a fine example of neo-Gothic with wonderful stained glass. At sunset, the seaside promenade at Galle Face Green, originally laid out by the British for horse racing, is a favourite place for a stroll.
In a country where the Portuguese, Dutch, and British all passed through and left their legacies, a mixed history and heritage await exploration.
Colombo is Sri Lanka’s capital, on the centre of this island nation’s west coast.
HOW TO GET THERE
Qatar Airways has three daily non-stop flights to Colombo from Doha.
MumbaiYou couldn’t get more colonial than the triumphal arch of the Gateway of India, the most famous landmark in Mumbai (Bombay), completed in 1927 to mark the state visit of Britain’s King George V. Other colonial monuments include the Cathedral of St. Thomas and the extravagant neo-Gothic Mumbai University with its tall clock tower. A little further away is the Town Hall, opened in 1833 and now housing the Royal Asiatic Society Library, one of the largest in India. Another formidable British remnant, the Prince of Wales Museum, is one of the finest museums in India. As for Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (formerly Victoria Terminus), this is arguably the greatest train station in the world. Opened in 1888, it looks like a vast Gothic cathedral and is covered in stained glass, sculpted animals, and gargoyles.
The pulsing economic capital of India has been a trading centre since its foundation in the colonial era.
Mumbai lies on the central west coast of India and is one of the chief gateways to the subcontinent.
HOW TO GET THERE
Qatar Airways flies from Doha to Mumbai daily.
SingaporeEnglishman Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles founded Singapore in 1819 and you can see a statue of him by the river. Notable colonial buildings worth a visit include the splendid white Victoria Memorial Hall for concerts, St. Andrew’s Cathedral and the Singapore Cricket Club, with its rambling, veranda-encircled pavilion. City Hall and the Supreme Court are two other grandly historic buildings, but nothing says ‘empire’ more than a cocktail at the Raffles Hotel’s celebrated bar.
It may be an ultra-modern city state, but Singapore’s colonial side reveals some charming surprises.
The city of Singapore lies on an island off the tip of the Malay Peninsula just 137 kilometres north of the Equator.
HOW TO GET THERE
Qatar Airways has daily flights from Doha to Singapore.