Ignore the colossal white concrete box that is the Laksala outlet, and keep walking/driving towards the right, and you will find the serene Craft Village. Inspired by the Indian handicraft village ‘Dilli Haat’, the Shilpa Village is a sizeable estate comprising of several workshops housed in clay huts.
For tourists and locals alike, everything you ever wanted from Sri Lankan handicrafts can be found here. Coconut shell sculptures, silver jewelry, drums, lacework, wood carvings, batik textiles, pottery, Dumbara mat work, brassware, fabric painting, etc. They sell at very reasonable prices as opposed to better known Souvenir boutiques that have a steep markup.
The craftsmen at Shilpa hail from all over the country. For those interested, you can chat with the artists, or better yet, see them engrossed in their work – especially the silversmiths.
It also makes for a good family outing, While I was there I saw several parents with their kids observing the craftsmen at work and having their questions answered by the amiable resident artists.
Even if you’re not interested in purchasing anything it’s still a great place for a leisurely stroll in a shady grove of towering trees. Once you pass the workshops, there are plenty of sitting areas under the shade.
One of Colombo’s best kept secrets (well, I’m assuming it’s secret because I hardly see anyone reading a book here) is that this is a veritable haven for those seeking a quiet place to read – no cacophony of city traffic; just a book, the trees and you.