Since 2012, jogging tracks and green places have been introduced in many parts of greater Colombo and surrounding suburban areas thanks to the Urban Development Authority, providing city dwellers with recreational spaces to relax and exercise. For an early morning or late afternoon workout, a spot to hangout or to take a bicycle ride, these are our favourite green spaces in the city. With paved tracks often running alongside paddy fields or lakes, the range of flora and fauna is a big draw for bird enthusiasts. Some walking tracks such as the one near the Parliament in Sri Jayawardenapura Kotte has food courts and small pop-up stores offering a range of distinctive Sri Lankan items. So strap on those running shoes and head out to experience the best of these city getaways.
Encompassing the Diyawanna Oya this track is like a bridge between the tranquility of the river and the tumult of the parallel parliament road. The track extends for 1.8 km around the lake, making it one of the longest tracks and is ideal for an adrenaline-pumped long jog in the morning. Idlers can sit on the stone benches alongside, or even take a boat ride while catching the picturesque sun kissed waters in the mornings and evenings.
The dusty Weli Park, once popular as a place selling sand and bricks for construction work, has been transformed completely along with its name, now called the Urban Wetland Park, into a pleasant walking track and hangout place. Stretching for a distance of 1.45km the walking track circles the Urban Wetland Park which has a manicured garden, an artificial pond in the shape of the famed lotus pond in Anuradhapura, and plenty of spaces to sit and pass time with friends or family. Visitors are to be warned that the Park is a pet free zone. The track gives a spectacular view of the Diyawanna Oya from the one side and there are few shops to interrupt the impeccable placidity of the place. Parking is ample but finding a spot on weekends can be bit of a hassle.
The pleasant walking space around the Verassa river is more than just an exercising spot. Located on the cleared up marshes of the river, this place is frequented by migratory birds making the visitors savour the delights of nature. The place also has a food court and a dedicated seating area overlooking the river. Bicycles can be rented and a tour around the nearly 3km loop is a treat, especially in the morning. The chill breeze and the scenery is sure to raise one’s spirit after an early morning walk or jog.
The Independence Square Walking Tracks meander around the Independence Arcade – one of the important cultural monuments of Colombo. This walking track provides a relief to Colombo’s health conscious who otherwise would have to exercise amidst smoke and jamming traffic of the city. The place lets everyone take a morning walk or stroll in the evenings in such tranquility. The track is spotted with two towering water fountains and a pool which are beautifully lit at nights. With sightings of green and blue everywhere it’s hard for one to imagine that such a beautiful spot sans traffic is actually inside the almost ever busy Colombo. As well as for exercising, the Independence Arcade also makes a lovely picnic spot with numerous shops and restaurants located there.
Located close by to the Diyawanna Walking Tracks, the Kimbulawela Walking Tracks overlooks lush paddy fields. A gravel trail winds along the length of the walking track and early in the morning if you happen to take a walk and if the season is right, you can take a peep into how paddy cultivation is done in the country with farmers starting their daily toil. Stretching along four kilometres, kids and adults alike frequent the space, some to exercise others to pass time leisurely. Whatever you prefer Kimbulawela Walking Tracks is a great place to spend time working towards being healthy or relaxing.