03 Desember 2011

Verdant Visions - Vihara Mahadevi Park

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Viharamahadevi Park has been a green oasis and a refuge from the heat of the day since the 19th century. This green urban space has been named after the mother of a Sri Lankan king, who reputedly united the country for the first time. Her statue is at the entrance to the park as is a statue of the seated Buddha. Many of Colombo’s public buildings such as Colombo City Hall, the National Art Gallery, the new Centre for National Performing Arts, The National Museum, public library, National War Memorial are all in the vicinity of the Park. The colonial architecture of City Hall, which faces the main entrance to the Park, as viewed from City Hall, provides a lovely vista of a tree lined avenue and its dome is even reflected in the pool at the Park’s entrance.

The Park houses a plant nursery and venues for community activities such as an open air theater built on the Greek model, an area for flower and plant shows, a children’s park, a traffic safety park, a jogging track and a pond with a gazebo in the middle that can be accessed over a quaint bridge. This is one of the Park’s many water features. Sometimes fountains play and it is indeed a site to behold on hot muggy days. Artists use the fence of the Park on Ananda Coomaraswamy Mawatha as a gallery displaying vibrantly colored canvasses on all days of the week. The large green trees, some of them quite old, provide shade to those who wish to seek their coolness during the hottest months in Colombo. While families and day trippers use it as a picnic spot, it is also popular as a place for lover’s trysts.

Bird life and small mammals and lizards abound, the Park offers the ideal conditions to shelter them in the city. The park has somewhat diminished in size through the ages as parts of it has been appropriated to broaden the surrounding roads. Although the Park’s greenness is always a soothing site to behold, the Park is at its best during flowering time, from March to May.

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