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  About Negombo  
     
     
 
Negombo is a charismatic fishing town north of Colombo, located a mere 6 km from the international airport. Set amidst lush groves of coconut palms, it breathes the spirit of the sea. Negombo is a gourmet’s paradise with sea food aplenty. Old - world fishing craft, like the outrigger canoe and the catamaran, bring seer, skipjack, herring, mullet and amber jack, while lobster and prawn are caught in the lagoon.

Negombo is situated by the shores of a lagoon and was once a trading port for the Portugese and the Dutch. It is a ideal place for those who want quick access to and from the airport. Attractions in the city include the old Dutch fort gate built in 1672 and now a part of the prison, the Dutch Canal which was then a supply route to the Dutch administration, old churches and fishing villages. The 100km long canal running through the town is still being used and is an attraction for those who want to see the country from a different perspective.
The stretch of road towards Kotchchikade comes to life at dusk (most shops are open at daytime too) with many handicrafts and shops, gem shops, restaurants and internet cafes catering to the tourists.
 
 
 

     
 
The history of Negombo began with spices , especially cinnamon, which grew wild in the nearby jungle. It was the Moors who set up a trading system by cutting and transporting the cinnamon to Negombo. Towards the end of the 16th century, the Portuguese ousted the Moors, built a fort, and took over the trade. The Dutch captured the town from the Portuguese in 1640, but it was recaptured the same year, only to fall finally in 1644. Then the Dutch set about improving the fort and developing the cinnamon trade internationally. In 1796 the British Raj took over Negombo, by which time the cinnamon trade had declined. During all this European activity, the Karavas, the brave warrior clan who were migrants from India, took up fishing, so that Negombo became the island’s major fishing port.
The town has a quaint atmosphere, with bustling little streets and some interesting architecture here and there. So successful was the conversion of the inhabitants to Catholicism by the Portuguese that the town is known as ‘little Rome’. As a result, churches are plentiful, most of which are highly ornate.
 
     
 

 
     
 
Close to the seafront are the ruins of the Dutch fort with its fine gateway, inscribed with the date 1672. Nearby, is a pretty Dutch church. There are several other old Dutch buildings still in use, including one of Negombo’s two rest houses. In addition, the Dutch built a fine canal from Colombo in the south through Negombo to Puttalam in the north, which can be explored either by boat or bicycle

The fishermen of Negombo have retained their traditional methods, in particular the use of the outrigger canoe known as the oruwa - the catamaran of the West - and the true catamaran, the teppam, which is a raft of logs lashed together. The arrival of the oruwas, after fishing, their brown sails like a mosaic against the sky, is a wonderful sight. Their arrival means imminent auctions on the beach, a common sight in Negombo.

The island of Duwa, a teeming fishing colony and boat-building centre, is connected to the mainland by a causeway at the mouth of the lagoon. It is famous for its annual passion play, in which the whole village is involved.
 
     
   
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