Deemed fit for agriculture, it is barely possible to summon an image of wilderness of Cinnamon Gardens in Colombo 7, a locale esteemed as a swanky quarter in the entirety of Colombo. It was indeed the backwoods of Colombo more than two centuries ago, when nearly acres of land was cleared by Cornelis de Cock, the Disave of Colombo to cultivate cinnamon in the s, a wooded area away from the busy township of coastal Colombo.
The British continued what the Dutch had started.
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Commercial cultivation was eventually abandoned with the decline in cinnamon trading. What resurrected this area to a position of great glory was the decision by the English in to shift the Racecourse of the Ceylon Turf Club to a larger property in the former cinnamon plantation. Naturally, the rich and the powerful, who flaunted their eminence through membership in clubs, moved to the limits of the new Racecourse. Their new homes were expectedly imposing and elegant in appearance. And the old name, Cinnamon Gardens continued to identify the area.
The old Cinnamon Gardens had a sense of identity and quality that is retained to this day, along with a personality that was intricately bound with the geographical location and the people.
Its street names were those of aristocratic Englishmen who served Ceylon. The crowning glory of Cinnamon Gardens is undoubtedly the Independence Avenue and its surroundings. Led by a long drive bordered by the National Archives and the National Library on the right and the Colombo Cricket Club CCC on the left, the oldest cricket club in the country , the national monument to commemorate the independence of Sri Lanka in , was designed similar to the celebration hall of the Kingdom of Kandy.
The water fountains, the trees and the well kept lawns are a sight to behold. Charles Henry de Soysa, hailed as the greatest philanthropist of 19 th Century Ceylon, once owned nearly acres in the area, of which he donated a large part to establish the University of Colombo.
The SSC is testimony to the movement in early 20 th Century of establishing sports clubs along ethnic lines. Horton Place, a bordering road is another witness to the great wealth acquired by anglicised masses of old Ceylon, Jefferson House, built in , a striking monument of old world charm is the official residence of the Ambassador for the United States in Sri Lanka.
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Its grand entrances, verandas with large pillars and rounded arches made it an emblem of modern architecture. The Town Hall, the administrative building of the Colombo Municipal Council, was deemed too far when it was proposed for shifting from its original home in Pettah. The grandeur of the magnificent structure is the tower and the dome, with a pleasing view of the area from all angles, especially overlooking the Viharamahadevi Park.
The World War Memorial in the park is a silent sentinel to multitudes of lives laid down for a cause. Moving away from the quaint surroundings of Cinnamon Gardens, the bustling locality near Town Hall is the Lipton Square. Sir Thomas Lipton established a successful company for the distribution of Ceylon tea in the s. Thus, Lipton and Company had its head office at the same building occupied by United Motors today. In the intersection of Lipton Square is the impressive 19 th Century Dewatagaha Mosque, today an icon of reverence and times past.
In close proximity at Ward Place is the Victoria Memorial Eye Hospital, with multiple domes and red bricks, the building was designed according to Hindu architectural tradition.
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Commissioned by Lady Ridgeway, the location for the memorial eye hospital along with the first national hospital had been chosen because it was deemed a less populous area. You may not remove the credits or links to Yr.
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Cinnamon Gardens by Shyam Selvadurai | Penguin Random House Canada
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