This might sound morbid but the Borelle Kanatte is one of the most beautiful places you could visit. It’s been a burial ground for more than 170 years and its trees and pathways are just as old.
The cemetery has some of the biggest trees I’ve ever seen in Colombo. The place is massive and fresh with flowers, plants and birds, and neat petal-strewn pathways that meander through the grounds.
The main area of the grounds is ripe with Christian symbols but people of others faiths have been buried here as well – you’ll find a different section flanked by a Buddhist funeral center if you wander in far enough. A lot of famous people in local history have been buried here, including Arthur C. Clarke, some of our film industry’s actors and actresses, and even those who died at war. In addition to the Sri Lankan graves, there are also interestingly a series of Indian, British, Australian and French ones.
The tombstones carry the stories of people who have been gone for ages, and occasionally you’ll find a line or two of beautiful poetry on some marble. Some of the graves are very simple, with a cross or a slab, or quaint intricate stone-work, while others have mini-monuments in the shape of domes or angels set up on them.
Angels everywhere – in white, grey and sometimes black. Some of them point at the sky, others are in the form of children, while some look smilingly at the ground.
It can get spooky if you linger around and look at the statues too long (it’s probably scary at night but the gates are locked at around 6PM), but mostly the place gives off a very meditative vibe. With the large trees shading the green floors, and the bright bushes of red and purple flowers, and the memories of people who once lived among us carved in stone, walking through here alone can be a compelling experience.
Check out our gallery at the top of the page for more pictures of the Borella cemetery.