Jana Kala Kendraya

Nestled in the heart of Battaramulla within the area of Sri Jayawardenapura Kotte, in a heavily populated area of Colombo and resolute in its solemn mission of preserving the arts and crafts of the island, the Jana Kala Kendraya is the primary art village in the Western Province. However, titles are deceiving, for while the name makes one imagine a place of great magnitude and scale, the reality is far from it. This is a place where past and present merge gaily in a wonderful marriage of color and culture.

It is through the broad insight of the National Crafts Council that we have this magnificent display of beauty and simplicity. The Jana Kala Kendraya is open to all tourists, and it offers a wider range of goods than any other craft village imaginable.

Small as it may be in size-at least outwardly-it is by far the largest place of interest in the whole of Colombo when it comes to its heart and premise. When one approaches the main area, one notices that the cityscape and almost all developments have been washed away and standing in the midst of a beautifully kept, idyllic lawn, flanked on all sides by trees of various species, is a low, longhouse-like structure. It is not dissimilar in shape and size to the old village houses that once dominated the Sri Lankan countryside and still do today in remote areas.

It is one of several of these quaint-looking huts with their thatched roofs and open spaces with only a few feet of wall between pillars and foundation. None of the huts are alike. In fact we have a prelude to what is within them in their mere shape, yet another feature that adds to their charming allure. Within each hut of this spectacular craft village is a different set of artisans working away at batik, weaving, lacework or sculpture, all of them bringing to mind the sweeter side of old Sri Lanka. Another plus is the chance to enjoy a bit of a traditional sweetmeat or a refreshing herbal drink with some well-made kithul palm sugar, the jaggery as is known colloquially.

Perhaps the real plus of the craft village is that you can walk through a beautiful garden and window shop, figuratively, if you’d like to pick out something that you like here, whether you are local or foreign.

Written by Vasika Udurawane for TLC.lk

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