The SpaceThe colonial house was the home and dance school of a famous Sri Lankan classical Bharathya Nattyam and Kandyan dancer in the (PHONE NUMBER HIDDEN)s, Ranjana Thangarajah and her Mathematician husband Saravanamuthu Thangarajah The house is airy, spacious and relaxing. The beautiful original Burma Teak features now sit side-by-side with modern art-deco and traditional fabrics. College House, surrounded by a beautiful tropical garden and high walls, is an oasis in the busy city.
Water Lily Room
The double room has a large, four-poster bed with a draped mosquito net. Situated on the ground floor, the room has a wooded-shuttered window that looks onto the back garden and brings a welcome breeze.
We named this room after the Water Lily, the national symbol of Sri Lanka. The flower has a deep connection with Buddha and is a symbol of truth, purity and discipline. Every morning the waterlily in our garden pond opens at sunrise and reminds us of these qualities. We are very lucky to be living with such an auspicious flower.
Other Rooms Available
If this room is booked on the night you require or you would like to see what other rooms are available at The College House, click on Plumbago, Water Lily and Moringa link for the other rooms we host. The other rooms have different prices.
We do not have any strict rules about check in time and we can be flexible to your needs. If you have an early/late time of arrival please get in touch beforehand and we can make arrangements to accommodate you.
Linen & cleaning
We provide fresh linen and towels to all guests. We clean the bathrooms twice a day everyday and we change linen and towels every 3 days too for long term guests.
We can provide a laundry service at a nominal charge.
The House is maintained in its original form. We welcome Travellers to experience what the real Colombo is all about.
Excellent wifi is available throughout the house Guest AccessBedroom, bathrooms, the verandah, living rooms (downstairs & upstairs), dining room, kitchen, the garden and balcony. Interaction with GuestsWe can arrange airport pickups and provide maps and local recommendations. Airport pickups with a name-card costs Rs 4000 by Hussain our driver. A drop is Rs 3000. Package sightseeing Tours can also be arranged with Hussain and Trips to Galle and Kandy.
This is the cheapest way to get into Colombo. The air-conditioned public bus (number 187-E3), is operated by Sri Lankan Transport Board (SLTB), to Colombo central bus station from the airport. Come out of the airport, turn left and walk all the way to the end of the building (ignore all the taxi drivers), cross the road and you will see a big bus in the car park. You will not find any signs, so do ask official airport personnel if in doubt. The cost is LKR 110 (as of May 2016) and it takes about 30 minutes as it takes the expressway to Colombo. The buses do have luggage storage space at the rear but be warned that someone pretending to be associated with the bus company may help you load your luggage. If this happens, they would expect you to tip them or the conductor will tell you that there is a LKR 100 charge for the luggage, even though there isn't one for it. It is a scam and do not fall for it! There are smaller overhead compartments in the bus, and in most cases, you can take an extra seat to keep your baggage as the buses leave to a schedule, regardless of the number of people in the bus. The last SLTB-operated bus from Colombo is 7.30 pm, and last bus from the airport leaves at about 8pm. Note that the schedules are not fixed, but expect a bus at twice an hour.
If you do not see an SLTB-operated bus, don't worry there will be a privately-operated bus all the time, even at the nights. These buses stop at the same spot SLTB buses start from (airport), or the road next to it. From the arrival hall, exit, and walk all the way to your left until the end of the building. This is about 50 meters. The SLTB bus, or the private bus alternative should be across the road, but if you do not see any bus there, continue to the road at the right side. You will be at the main road (this is a two-way road, and keep in mind that vehicles travel from the left side). Cross the road, and you will see a bus stopped at about 20-50m to your left. The route number is 187. If the bus takes the expressway, the number would be 187-E3. The NeighborhoodSituated in the old downtown historial district of Kotahena, Colombo 13) is comprised of Kotahena, Kochchikade, Ginthupitiya and surrounded by the Pettah (Colombo 11), Mutwal (Colombo 15), Grandpass (Colombo 14) Dematagoda (Colombo 09) and the ancient Colombo Harbour.
Origins of Kotahena and its History
This eighteenth century fishing hamlet now called Kotahena, rose from the marshes of the Kelani Ganga River in the North-east of Colombo. Kottanchina as it was once known had groves of Kottan (Costus Speciousus) in the verdant jungle that covered this hillock. There were two small clusters of Kottan till about the mid twentieth century, one at the beginning of Bonjeans Road, and the other round the disused quarry at College Street. The British anglicized Kottanchina to Cottonchina.
The College House is very near and within walking distance of Colombo’s oldest historical Buddhist temples.
The Historical 300 year old Buddhist Temples
Dipaduttarama Purana Raja Maha Viharaya Kotahena founded in 1806 is the oldest Buddhist temple in Colombo with a history of over 300 years. Known as Thai Temple after a member of the Thai royal family was ordained by Waskaduwe Subhithi Mahanyake Thero the Thai Prince-Priest as he was known lived at the temple from (PHONE NUMBER HIDDEN). Thai royals and Prime Ministers have visited th temple on several occasions to pay homage. The Deepaduttaramaya Thai temple gained significance in colonial and post colonial Sri Lankan history as a place of renaissance
The Temple is resplendent built in the style of Thai architecture. The temple’s Rathana chaitya (shrine) is unlike any Sri Lankan dagoba is made entirely of small glass fronted boxes in bronze mounted on each other. Each small casing contains a miniature statue of Buddha, which must add up to about a hundred overall are illuminated as dusk falls, the chaitya makes for a beautiful sight at night time.
Dipaduttamaramaya is a temple of great historical value. Built in 1775, this is the oldest temple in the Colombo city limits and also the first of its kind. It was the temple of the great orator of colonial Sri Lanka, Ven. Migettuwatte Gunananda Maha Thera over a hundred years ago. Along with Ven. Waskaduwe Subuthi Maha Nayaka Thera, Migettuwatte Thera was the Chief Incumbent of the temple. Due to this patronage, the temple earned the distinction of being the first place in the world where the Buddhist flag was hoisted on April 28, 1885. In fact the announcement of Vesak as a national holiday by Gazette notification was made at the temple premises on April 27, 1885. Following this the great monk visited the Kelaniya temple to make his historic speech on the significance of Vesak.
Apart from the significant place it holds in Buddhist history, Dipaduttamaramaya is also considered the official temple of Thai royalty. The recent 260th Anniversary of the reinstatement of the Upasampadawa (Higher Ordination) that uplifted the Sasana in the 18th Century, when Kandyan ruler King Keerthi Sri Rajasinghe, along with the Most Ven. Weliwita Sri Saranankara Maha Thera got down the Upasampadawa from the Kingdom of Siam (Thailand).
Its history is intricately bound to probably the greatest Pali scholar of his time, Ven. Waskaduwe Sri Subhuthi Maha Nayaka Thera. The scholar monk was renowned around the world and served as the foreign advisor to Siam and Burma while presiding over the Abhinavaaramaya temple in Waskaduwa (later renamed as the Sri Subuthi Viharaya in his honour). “Sri Subuthi Maha Nayaka Thera was a visionary and great teacher. His writings are to this day kept in a museum at the Sri Subuthi Viharaya in Waskaduwa. The Nayaka Thera equipped with an immaculate knowledge of English penned diplomatic letters to the two countries and mesmerised by the monk’s wisdom, Prince Prisdang Chumsai, grandson of King Rama the Third of Thailand developed a strong interest in Buddhism.
Fifteen years and many letters later, the Prince made a momentous decision to leave behind his worldly possessions and step into priesthood under the tutelage of Sri Subuthi Maha Nayaka Thera. Being ordained in 1896 as Ven. P.C Jinavarawansa Thera -the protégé of the Nayaka Thera- he was eventually bestowed with the Chief Incumbency of the Dipaduttamaramaya Temple in 1904, thus being the first foreign monk to become an incumbent of a Buddhist temple in Sri Lanka. He also laid the foundation for the construction of the Rathna Chaitya.
Dipaduttamaramaya was known as the ‘Thai Temple’. Ven. P.C. Jinavarawansa Thera developed a close rapport with the people of the area and was commonly known as the ‘Kumara Hamuduruwo’ (Prince Priest). The temple is revered by Thais as it was home to their royal son who took the leap of faith across the river of materialism and into the land of the peaceful and ordained.
various members of Thai royalty have subsequently paid their respects at the temple; Former ruler, King Rama VIII, present ruler King Rama IX, the Princess Mother, Queen Sirikit, Queen Rambhai Barni, Princess Galyani Vadhana Krom Luang Naradhiwas Rajanagarindra, Princess Chulabhorn and Prince Prem Purachatra are amongst the dignitaries to have graced the temple over the last century. Several Thai government officials and Prime Ministers and other eminent Thai professionals have also visited.
Swaying in the cool breeze that rushes past the chaitya are three trees; A Red Sandalwood, Madara and a White Sandalwood that looms over the Budu medura, planted in a special area of the temple grounds reserved for the traditional practice of planting a sapling to mark these occasions-a habit the royals have followed on their many visits. These, planted by King Ananda Mahidol, King Bhumibol Adulyadej and Princess Chulaborn on three different occasions symbolise the warmth of Thai affinity to the temple.
Legend has it that the Kumara Hamuduruwo’s royal robes are deposited at the very core of the temple’s shrine. Dipaduttamaramaya in the heart of central Colombo stands as a compelling symbol of Buddhist revival in the country.
The building in which the Thai monk lived was popularly known as a ‘Maligawa’ (The Palace) while locks of hair, shaved from his head when he was ordained, the robes and other parapharita and hand written documents and articles written by the monk are museum pieces at the temple.
His time was mainly spent on learning Thripitiaka and practising meditation. He started ‘Gunanada Vidyalaya’, in memory of Migettuwatte Gunanada Thero, in the temple premises and Rathna Chetiya, which is a unique structure in Sri Lankan soil.
The temple is recorded to have been built in two stages, belonging to two periods: the mid-Dutch and the early British colonial periods. The date 1785 is found impressed on the lower half of an altar which belongs to the Dutch period, while the upper half can be attributed to the mid British period as the year 2416 (Buddhist era) is found inscribed thereon ie 1872 A.D. At the very top, above the shrine is found the British crown and below that is a replica of a dagaba with a lion and a unicorn on either side below the dagaba. The first monk of this temple was Ven. Sinigama Dhirakkhanda who came into residence in 1845.
This temple was the centre for the revival of Buddhism which took place towards the end of the 19th century. The second incumbent Ven. Migettuwatte Gunananda Thera of Balapitiya, when he moved to Colombo decided to reside at Deepaduththaramaya. It is here that the Thera began his work to revive Buddhism in the country. He was known as the "Great Orator" – who made speeches defending Buddhism against the arguments of the Christian missionaries. Ven. Gunananda Thera is said to have been one of the pioneers who created the Buddhist flag and at this temple in Kotahena the Buddhist flag was officially hoisted for the first time in Sri Lanka at the auspicious time of 8:30a.m. on 28th April 1885. It was also at this temple Vesak Poya day was declared a Holiday.The first “Daham pasala” or Dhamma school (school to teach the Buddha Dhamma ) in the island commenced at this temple by Mrs. Marie Musaeus Higgins and Madame Helena Patrovna Vlavatsky during the incumbency of the Ven. Migettuwatte Gunananda in 1908 and shows two architectural styles. its lower half influenced by Mulagandhakuti Vihara at Buddhagaya and the upper half influenced by the Siamese architecture. Its golden pinnacle was gifted by a king of Thailand.
The other ancient Paramananda Purana Viharaya in Kotahena is the second temple to be built in Colombo, founded around (PHONE NUMBER HIDDEN). It contains murals depicting the life of the Buddha and the history of Buddhism in Ceylon.
The unique Hindu Temple devoted to Lord Shiva
The Sri Ramanathan Shivan Kovil, temple in Kotahena was built in 1857 by Sri Arumugam Ponnambalam Mudaliyar, a devoted Hindu, hailing from Manipay, Jaffna and father of Sir Ponnambalam Ramanathan, legislator, statesman, and patriot who was one of those responsible for the independence of Sri Lanka. It is said that after a pilgrimage he made to India, he experienced a divine bidding through a dream to build a Shivan kovil for the Hindus of Colombo.The work on the temple commenced in 1856 and was completed in 1857 during the British rule. This original temple was initially built modestly with lime and (URL HIDDEN) is said that the temple was situated on five acres of land overlooking the Colombo harbour, its garden filled with a variety of valuable trees, lush vegetation, beautifully laid out lawns, and about 20 head of cattle which provide milk for the temple’s daily poojas. The land which was originally a coconut plantation was purchased from Capt. John E. Stonean, an Englishman, by Sri Ponnambala Mudaliyar.The trusteeship of the temple was passed on to his son Sir Ponnambalam Ramanathan, in 1905.
Sir Ponnambalam Ramanathan who wished to improve the kovil, made several trips to India to consult renowned temple architects, and he subsequently enlisted the services of reputed sculptors and temple builders from South India, and commenced the renovation work in 1907. He completed the temple in solid gray granite stone, and the consecration (Kumbabishekam) ceremony took place on 21 November, 1912. However since then several additions have been made. The eastern side Rajagopuram (Supreme Gate Pyramid) was erected in 1967.A salient feature of this unique temple is that it is entirely built out of granite stone as per Dravidian architecture based on the principles of Hindu temples in India. The granite for the temple had been obtained from quarries in Veyangoda. This temple is comparable to some of the famous Hindu temples in South India. The temple with its tall Gopuram (Gate Pyramid) and gateways facing the East and West stands majestically in all splendour. The kovil strictly followed the guidelines recommended in Hindu Vedic scriptures to replicate the human anatomy.
The Trusteeship of the Kovil continues to be carried out by the descendants of Sri Ponnambala Mudaliyar.
The Mariamman Kovil in Kotahena is an ancient temple, more than 250 years old dedicated to Mariamman the goddess who embraces the force of the earth and the fire of the chakra. The earliest available records indicate that it was founded on 2 March, 1864 by Thiruvilanga Nagarathar for the protection and wellbeing of the Devotees.
Sri Muthumariamman is the main sanctum showering her Blessings on thousands of Devotees who patronize this Temple. There are many stories and miracles about the goddess transmitted from generation to generation.
Colombo’s only Cathedral St Lucias
Named after St. Lucy of Sicily: virgin, martyr and saint, St. Lucia’s Cathedral in Kotahena, is the oldest and largest parish Cathedral in Sri Lanka and the seat of the Archbishop of Colombo The Cathedral stands tall, dominating Kotahena’s sky-scape. Its handsome Romanesque features, elaborate Corinthian pillars, arches, balconies, beeralu cement fences, grills, pediments, surmounted by domes, lanterns and statues of saints.
According to records, worship at this site goes back to a date in 1760, where a small thatched hut built by the early mission fathers served as a church for the faithful. Gradually the building came to be replaced with larger and more grandeur constructions and in 1838 it was elevated to the status of a Cathedral.The Cathedral, as it presently stands, is the design of Bishop Hillarion Sillani and Fr. Stanislaus Tabarrani a pair described to have been infused by a “Holy optimism and a prophetic spirit” in their vision of building a majestic structure suitable for the worship of God. Their dream was to build a replica of the St. Peters Basilica in Rome. Bishop Sillani in fact, in a letter addressed to Rome dated 1874, requested for a photograph of the Basilica and instructions on how to construct the lantern that crowns the main dome of the building. To carry out his dream Bishop Sillani engaged the services of a master mason Anthony Pillai Tittaravu Pillai from Ponddicherry in India, to guide and supervise the workmen. The Cathedral was completed in thirty years in 1902.
The interior of the cathedral is as impressive with its sanctuary, naves and aisles.
Above the sanctuary is the main brick built double walled dome. Four medallions painted in shades of brown on canvas and fitted into frames, decorate the top four corners of the sanctuary. These are the only paintings in the Cathedral and are of the evangelists - Mathew, Mark, Luke and Johan by a local artist Gabriel Perera. High up on the back wall of the sanctuary, taking pride of place amongst other stained glass, is a glass depicting a reproduction of the Murillo’s world famous painting of the Immaculate Conception. The marble altar table includes a carved frieze of the last supper. On the left side on a marble platform is the cathedra or the grandiose carved wooden throne of the Bishop, tastefully gilded. The polished wooden altar rails around the sanctuary match the design on the cathedra. Under the sanctuary is the underground crypt, heavily arched with stout pillars.Among the many ornate larger than life statues of saints that stand in the church the famous statue of ‘Our Lady of Kotahena’ – a dark faced Madonna carrying the baby Jesus had features of unusual beauty. It is said that this statue was an award winner at the Universal exhibition in Paris. The Baptistery of carved marble crowned with the statue of St. Johan the Baptist, and the large wooden framed friezes depicting the stations of the cross are also worth noting.The cathedral is blessed with 4 bells in its two towers. The biggest bell christened ANTHONY THOMAS at 4,300 lbs hangs alone in the right bell tower, and rings only on very special occasions. The other three bells occupy the left Bell tower and are christened Constant Henry Lucia Emilia (2000 lbs). Francis Theresa (1,400 lbs) and Jean Baptist Edward Anna (950 lbs)
The shrine at Kochchikade where many religions worship
St. Anthony's Kochchikade is undoubtedly the most patronized church by Christians and non Christians alike and is designated by the Catholic Church as a National Shrine. It stands in an area that has derived its name from the very (URL HIDDEN) was a time in the 18th century under the Dutch rule, when Catholicism was still a proscribed religion in Sri Lanka and priests could not exercise their ministry in public.
The origin of the church is accorded to Fr. Antonio, who was a companion to Joseph Vaz and had been assigned to minister to the religious needs of the Catholics in Colombo.
Fr. Antonio, a zealous priest disguised as a merchant took up his abode in a house in Maliban Street, Colombo, close to St. Philip Neris Church. The Dutch discovered his hiding place, but Fr. Antonio, disguised, fled towards Mutwal. He met some fishermen who knew him and his reputation as a holy man, and volunteered to protect him from the Dutch, provided he obtained from God a favour for them - namely to stop the erosion of the sea which caused them great inconvenience. When the pursuers arrived, the fishermen refused to hand over Fr. Antonio until he had granted them the favour they were asking for. Fr. Antonio then returned to his home at Maliban Street, and came to the shore, clad in his priestly garments and with a large wooden Cross in his hand. Planting the Cross at the spot most threatened by the advancing Sea, he prayed to God to manifest His Glory, by working this miracle. On the third day the waves receded and an extensive sand bank was exposed to the view of all.The Dutch Government appreciated this favor and offered a reward to the people’s benefactor. The humble priest asked only the permission to live and die near the Cross he had planted. This was granted and the priest built a Chapel with mud in honor of his patron, St. Anthony of Padua. When he died after many years, he was buried there.
It is said that as the priest was from Cochin, the land was referred to as the place in which the Cochinese had a shop hence the name Kochchikade. The little Chapel which was made of mud was enlarged in 1806. And in 1822 one of the members of the Congregation went to Goa and brought a Statue of St. Anthony and it was solemnly placed on the altar of the small Church. This is the very image that is today held in great veneration at St. Anthony’s Church, Kochchikade, kept on the side altar which was the altar of the ancient Church and stands on the very spot Sanctified by miraculous event to which the origin of the same Sanctuary is due.
The Markets of Pettah
Pettah is one of the most vibrant and colorful parts of Colombo, known for its bustling open air bazaars and markets. Each thoroughfare has its own speciality (for example, Gabo’s Lane and 5th Cross St specialise in Ayurvedic medicines).
Pettah and Kotahena are also the most ethnically mixed parts of the city. Literally minutes from the guesthouse you will find streets dotted with several interesting Buddhist Temples, Christian Churches, Hindu Kovils and Islamic Mosques.
Kotahena is a neighbourhood to give you an authentic local experience. The area is bustling, lively and colorful. The shops are open late into the night and everyone should sample the delicious street food (dosas, hoppers, kottu etc).
The house itself is on a residential street (College Street). The harbour lights are visible and the markets of Main Street are close-by. The Dutch Museum on Prince Street, The Shiva Temple, and one of the oldest Buddhist Temples in the city are all in walking distance. Getting AroundTuk-tuks are a cheap, convenient mode of transport and are always available on the road in front of the house. These will get you to Fort (upmarket district perfect for dinner and drinks), Pettah (the heart of Colombo and the buzzing bazaar district) and Galle Face Green (Colombo's seafront promenade) for $1-3.
Trains and buses from Fort station to Galle and the South Coast are only 5 minutes away (plus all other destinations in Sri Lanka including Kandy and the hill country, the cultural centre and Jaffna (in the far north). College House is on the north side of Colombo easily assessable from the airport a further 25km north, yet only minutes away in a tuk-tuk from downtown Pettah and Fort (where you will find Fort Train Station and Central Bus Stand for transport to anywhere on the island). Fort, The Galle Face Promenade for a refreshing walk by the sea, sundown drinks at the Galle Face Hotel or the Kingsbury Sky Bar, The Dutch Hospital Arcade in Fort and Steuarts Hotel or the Pagoda Restaurant one of the oldest in Colombo and the Resto Pub- Bar RePublic down Hospital Street are just a 3 kilometer Tuk Tuk ride away costing Rupees 350 approx.
For longer journeys there are also taxis, Uber Pick-Me and Kangaroo Budget.
The airport is only 20 minutes away costing approx $20-$25. Other Things to NoteFor travellers needing to get to/from Colombo airport we are ideally located in the north side of the city (the airport is approx 25km north of Colombo). This means you do not have to go through the centre of the Colombo to arrive here or at the airport, which saves a lot of time and money. A property in the centre or south of the city may only be 3-5kms away but could easily take 1 hour to get to on a busy day. We can organise an airport taxi for you costing $20-$25. We can also provide a vegetarian lunch or dinner cooked by Kala our housekeeper for rupees 700 per person for vegetarian and non veg chicken or fish for rs 1200. Prawns will cost 1500 rupees. We provide a complimentary tea or coffee on arrival. Tea or coffee is available throughout the day for rupees 200 per mug.
If you have any questions or would like any advice about travelling in Colombo/Sri Lanka, please do not hesitate to contact us.