Independence Memorial Museum.

Independence Square is a beautiful place to hang out and relax. What a lot of people don’t know is that under the Memorial Hall are wooden doors that open into a museum.

The museum entrance is facing the square pools of Independence Square, and entering it is like walking into a cave of sorts, the lighting is dim and the sounds blocked out. Entrance is Rs. 10 but you have to pay Rs. 250 if you’re going to take pictures.

There have been countless men and women who have been a part of the rebellions and cultural revivalism that led up to our country’s Independence from the British Empire in 1948. The Independence Museum pays tribute to some of them: the main room on your right has along its walls glass encased weapons, telephones, diaries et al, used by them a century or two ago. They also have and big explanatory charts and, in the center, amazing busts of those who led the Independence movement.

Henry Olcott
‘Look at all the cool shizzle in this room, son’
Muhammadu Lebbe
Our most well-known Independence activist D. S. Senanayake
Walter White
Kandyan Chiefs hanging out with John Doily
Happy S. W. R. D. Bandaranayake
Notes made by Brahmachari Walisinghe Harischandra – a revivalist of Buddhist culture, considered the ‘saviour of Anuradhapura’
Monaravila Keppatipola Nilame at center stage – a prominent leader of the Uva rebellion of 1818
There’s a small section on the wall for novelist Martin Wickremasinghe

 

The entrance has a bunch of people holding up a band together that has different symbols on it, to represent diversity and a coming-together of ideals. It’s also the only thing in the museum that has a woman in it.

There’s a relatively new room to the left whose glass encasements contain beautiful palm-leaf parchments of the names of the soldiers who fought in the Sri Lankan civil war from 1983 to 2009.

Conclusion

The Independence Memorial Museum is barely visited by people anymore, maybe on the occasional school trip – and yeah, you might argue that it’s not much fun walking into a room with the busts of dead old men staring back at you. But I think that’s understating it by a long shot — the museum is a reminder of some of the coolest people in local history, people who fought to preserve the Sri Lankan identity we take for granted today, so if this is the only place in Colombo that celebrates that, then it’s totes worth the visit.

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