Discover Colombo’s history and culture with community created App & Map

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iDiscoverColombo Guide includes 4 illustrated neighbourhood maps with handcrafted walking and cycling itineraries
Comes with exclusive ‘People of Colombo Storybook’ and free navigational app
iDiscover Colombo bridges the heritage of the city’s past with the new life of its present through a locally curated and illustrated neighbourhood guide featuring handcrafted walking and cycling itineraries through the city’s most captivating historic neighbourhoods: Fort, Pettah, Slave island and Cinnamon Gardens.

The iDiscoverColombo App & Map helps locals and tourists navigate these neighbourhoods, each with their own distinct character and learn all about its hidden gems, insider secrets and untold stories of the past and present.

A true community effort, the iDiscoverColombo project is a collaboration of the Hong Kong based non-profit iDiscover and the Colombo Heritage Collective, a newly-established initiative spearheaded by Colombo based hospitality group Cantaloupe Hotels and PWA Architects. The project received financial support from the Shared Cultural Heritage Fund of Dutch Culture and expertise from Heritage Hands-On, an Amsterdam based agency.

“We are proud to be part of this community initiative. For the first time we map out the historic landmarks and cultural highlights of these beautiful neighbourhoods to make them accessible for a wide audience. With rapid urban development going on in Colombo, it is important to document these buildings and their stories, they form the foundation of our heritage,” says Philip Weeraratne from the Colombo Heritage Collective.

The iDiscoverColombo guide – in the form of a savvy app, four handy maps and an exclusive storybook – introduces over 100 sites in four neighbourhoods that bring local cultural heritage to life.

The App helps to navigate, gives background stories and shares some little-known secrets. The sites were handpicked by the crew from the Colombo Heritage Collective based on community consultations.

The content was then created by some young talented Colombo based writers: Halik Azeez (Pettah and Fort) Himal Kotelawala (Cinnamon Gardens) and Nadeesha Paulis (Slave Island). Kesara Ratnavibhushana and his team were responsible for the stunning photography.

The Maps are poetic odes to the neighbourhoods, beautifully illustrated by local artists: Neesha Fernando (Cinnamon Gardens) Mika Tennekoon (Fort) Ruwangi Amarasinghe (Pettah) and Firi Rahman (Slave Island).

The Storybook contains 32 interviews with people in each of the four neighbourhoods providing an intimate glimpse into Colombo daily life and what makes each of these places so special. Interviews were done by Razia Razia Esufally and Halik Azeez and lay out design by Chamari Pitigala.

The iDiscoverColombo guide includes key heritage sites like the clock tower, the Wolvendaal Church and the Red Mosque, but more than just buildings, it also features food, festivals, shops and traditional businesses.

The iDiscover Guides highlight popular local food spots, family stores that have passed down through generations and neighbourhood tea shops that don’t bear a name. Even more, through the interactive travel app one can access the stories of the places and the people behind them, giving the traveller an intimate insight in the daily lives of the people of Colombo.

“All over Asia we come across the same story again and again, historic neighbourhoods are at risk. We are proud to be working with some amazing young and committed people in Colombo who deeply care about their heritage and we hope this cultural mapping project will be an important step to the path of further revitalising and rejuvenating these neighbourhoods,” says Dr. Ester van Steekelenburg, the founder of iDiscover.

“Colombo is often overlooked as travel destination, but it is one of Asia’s greenest and most cultured cities. With Lonely Planet recognising Sri Lanka as their #01 travel destination for the year 2019, we hope we can welcome more people to this beautiful city and this guide helps people to see the city through the lens of locals and travel responsibly and respectfully,” says Nadira Jayasuriya from Cantaloupe Hotels, one of the initiators of this project.

“Sri Lanka and the Netherlands have a long, shared history and the iDiscover Colombo Guide highlights the many marks of this rich past that have survived into the present: buildings, names, stories and even food. This shared cultural heritage is more than just as a reminder of our past, it also has a relevance in today’s society. This project captures both and makes old neighbourhoods attractive for a young generation,” says Joanne Doornewaard, Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Sri Lanka.

For any enquiries, please contact Razia Esfually at cfhc@cantaloupe.lk or Stephanie Cheung of iDiscover at i-discover@urbandiscovery.asia.

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