Sri Lanka holds many secrets and mysteries in its history and traditions. But one fact that still amazes people is that Sri Lanka has two official capitals. The first is Colombo and the second is Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte. Further on in the article, we will break down in more detail what this has to do with and how the two cities have shared the function of capital between them. I can assure you, you will be interested to read our article.

Why two capitals?

My dear reader, you may be in confusion after reading that Sri Lanka has two capitals. We shall now try to dispel it.

As it happens, back in 1979, officials decided to move the capital from Colombo to Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte. This decision was taken without input from the people, guided by the fact that Kotte was a younger, more attractive city compared to Colombo.

In 1982, Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte became the official capital and the seat of Parliament and the Supreme Court was moved to it. This decision did not take root with the population, they both considered Colombo to be the capital, as they continued to do so. With all that said, most public institutions have not changed their location but have remained in Colombo. Colombo is now the seat of the President and many government offices, while Kotta has the parliament and the supreme court. These two cities, have almost equally divided between them the functions of capital city, hence it is accepted that Sri Lanka has two official capitals.

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Colombo – the official No.1 capital

Colombo is the oldest city in Sri Lanka. It holds many secrets, mysteries and mystical things in its depths. It is a must-see for most tourists because Colombo is home to some of the most famous landmarks: the Kelaniya Raja Vihara Temple, which is dedicated to the life of the Buddha. For Muslims, Colombo has the Jami ul Alfar mosque. It features a variety of tile mosaics. The mosque is open for tours and is as pompously decorated inside as it is outside. Another famous temple of Colombo is Gangaram. It is also a sanctuary for the devotees of Buddhism, as well as a centre of education for monks. Legend has it that the Gangaram Temple contains a hair of the Buddha himself.

The island of Ceylon, also known as Sri Lanka, was for a long time a colony of European states, therefore many beautiful Baroque and Medieval architectural structures can be found in the cities. Since Colombo has always been the capital of the island there are many beautiful mansions, monuments, towers, lighthouses, chapels, etc.

Today Colombo is divided into two parts, the old part and the modern part. The old part houses one of the modern wonders of the world, the Kathisaran Temple, which the locals call the Singing Temple. The temple gets its name from the fact that when one touches the walls, it emits a sound reminiscent of a piece of music.

Walk through the streets of Colombo and you’re bound to come across the National Museum. It contains manuscripts on palm leaves, the first sets of laws adopted on the island, a variety of weapons, household utensils, etc. The most amazing thing about this museum is that it houses exhibits that date back millions of years.  

Colombo is and remains the island’s main city; it has an airport and the largest industrial and manufacturing complexes, making it the economic centre of Sri Lanka.

As Colombo can be talked about at great length, it is this fascinating city and its attractions that will be the focus of an article of its own. In this article we also want to cover the topic of Sri Lankan Capitals, so we’ll move on to cover the hard to pronounce city of Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte.

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Sri Jayawardenepura-Kotte – the official capital number 2

Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte became the official capital of Sri Lanka in 1982. Kotte (the city’s abbreviated name) is the seat of parliament and the state’s supreme court. Coincidentally, Kotte is located in a suburb of Colombo, south of it.

It has had a tough time in this city. It has been overrun, battles have been fought on its soil, regalia has been conferred and deprived of it altogether. To this day, many Sri Lankans do not perceive Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte as a capital city. To them it is a small, quiet, provincial town. Despite these facts, Sri Jayawardenepura-Kotte is the second official capital of the island.


Undoubtedly Sri Lanka is a fascinating country with a history of millions of years, but it is not only history that attracts tourists. The modern state also excites the mind and spirit of the people and the existence of two capitals prove this. The construction of various temples and mosques. If you are hesitating to visit Sri Lanka or not, our advice is to book your plane tickets soon and go for at least a month trip.

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