In the north west corner of Colombo Fort on the Chaithya Road is an amazing site. On top of a huge yellow arch is a giant dazzling white Buddhist bell shaped Dagoba also known as a stupa.
Colombo Sambodhi Chaithya Temple and giant Dagoba stupa
One of the arches straddles the Chaithya Road where it forms a bend just before the entrance to the Sri Lankan Navy base. It was built this high near to Colombo Port so that it could be seen and act as a landmark to all ocean going ships. The temple grounds are known as the Sambodhi Chaitya.
I have read a number of tourist guide books that, when covering the top ten sites to see in Colombo, fail to mention the Sambodhi Chaithya temple. I have no idea why because it is very impressive. Next to the temple is the Colombo Maritime Museum which is housed in what used to be the old Dutch Prison. That is also worth a visit.
Getting to the Sambodhi Chaithya temple and Dagoba was not as easy as I thought. I did not realise that many of the roads in that area of Colombo Fort are closed to the public. This is for security reasons as the headquarters of various Sri Lankan military and Government buildings are located just south of the port. It is also where the Sri Lankan official Presidential residence and gardens can be found. They are all off limits to the public.
The Sambodhi Chaithya Temple straddles the road
It is best to go all the way down to the roundabout outside the neo-classical Presidents Secretariat building (the old Ceylon colonial Parliament building) on Lotus Road by the sea front and head north up the Chaithya Road as far as you can go. Hire a Tuktuk and take a slow walk back enjoying the sights after you have been to the Sambodhi Dagoba and temple
There is a slight similarity to the NASA rocket launch pad at Cape Canaveral in Florida. There is a tall tower to the north of the structure for that contains the stairs. At the top there is a gantry. If you are feeling fit you can climb up the many steps by the side of the yellow arch to gain access to the viewing platform. It is a long way up and in the heat and humidity of Colombo it is not a decision to be taken lightly. Go slowly and drink water. If you do not like heights forget even attempting the ascent. If the open stairs don't make you feel queasy then the gantry will finish you off.
Remember you are in the grounds of a temple and as such you should show respect to the views of others. Dress conservatively. Do not show too much flesh. No exposed shoulders. Shorts are not approved of and you will have to take your shoes off. Dagobas are a mound or bell shaped religious structure that often contain Buddhist relics and are used as a place of worship. Some house the remains of saints and disciples. In other parts of the world they are called Chedi or pagoda. They come in all shapes and sizes.