It’s time to trade in your stilettoes and Derby’s for a pair of trainers as we run through the jogging tracks of Colombo and its suburbs. City dwellers are constantly on the lookout for varying means of keeping fit with the increase in urban health consciousness. Maximize the use of Colombo’s jogging tracks which are more economical and convenient as opposed to visiting your local gym. Enjoy a brisk walk or an intense jog to get your blood circulating by identifying which track suits you best!
1. Diyatha Uyana
Rating - 4/5
Basic Facilities - Opened to the public in 2012, Diyatha Uyana has become a frequented family location, attracting scores of locals and non-locals. A pleasant jogging and walking track passes by the famous Diyawanna Oya albeit its lack of signboards indicating how far one has travelled. While there isn’t a specific cycling track, a tar roadway with remnants of what once was 3D art is alternatively used by skateboarders and cyclists alike.
Additional Facilities - Its close proximity to Water’s Edge and vast array of restaurants with ample seating adds to its popularity. Environmentally conscious individuals will be pleased with the availability of three bins for paper, polythene and general waste. Nature enthusiasts have often referred to the park as a rare space of greenery in the busy city and we managed to spot several little egrets along with a rather carefree water monitor basking in the sun. It’s a fantastic place to bring the kids since there’s a children’s play area at the end of the walkway and an aquarium by the food court. A large public toilet is also available.
Safety and Security - Although many secure parking slots are available, it’s best to come early since the crowds come flooding in. Rock barricades are maintained to prevent the water level from rising. There’s also good signage cautioning walkers regarding the slopes. As this is a high security zone, photographers, particularly wedding photographers, are advised to seek prior clearance from the relevant authorities. People are also advised to carry necessary documents of identification. The park closes at 11:00PM.
Suggestions and Comments - For those desiring a serene ambiance we wouldn’t recommend coming here since it’s an extremely commercial area. We felt the availability of a water dispenser would be useful for joggers/walkers.
2. Diyawanna (Parliament) Jogging Track
Rating - 3.8/5
Basic Facilities - Well lit by solar powered lamps, this jogging track offers a breathtaking view of the Kotte Parliament and Diyawanna Oya. Enjoy a peaceful hour of exercise while the mighty men of the country occupy themselves in making key decisions. Ensure to note the signboards in order to track your progress (approx. 1.8 km each way).
Additional Facilities - Sit on one of the many benches along the track to appreciate scenic sights or jog across the road for a quick bite at a small café next to Carepoint. Joggers / walkers can also crossover to the Kimbulawewa track for a change of terrain.
Safety and Security - Parking is available at your own risk. Protective barriers have been placed by the lake to prevent crocodiles from entering the track. While it is fairly secure, a few joggers have expressed concerns of the track’s proximity to the main road and the occasional comments made by motorcyclists.
Suggestions and Comments - The track could benefit with the addition of a water dispenser, a public toilet and bins (except for one camouflaged by the trees). Owing to a considerable amount of cyclists, a cycling track would also be beneficial as opposed to cycling on the main road during peak traffic hours. We’d give it a four point rating if you’re purely interested in walking and jogging in a serene environment sans disturbance. Considering the facilities available at other walking/jogging tracks however we gave this a 3.8.
3. Beddagana Wetland Park
Rating - 4.7/5
Basic Facilities - Nestled amidst the commercial capital, the Beddagana Wetland Park is a tranquil haven away from the congested concrete jungle. Rich in lush foliage, the 18 hectares of marshy land is home to several endemic birds, dragonflies and butterflies. A water dispenser is placed at the entrance of the walkway. It’s certainly a walker’s paradise for an early morning or sunset stroll. Opening hours: 6am - 6pm. Ticket prices for locals: Rs. 100 (adult) and Rs. 50 (child).
Additional Facilities - The public toilet is situated further away at the car park. There is also a small boutique for the purchasing of packaged snacks.
Safety and Security - Ample parking is available at the car park which is a few metres away from the park itself. While the wooden walkway beautifully blends in with the surrounding environment, we found it to be a little tricky when crossing fellow walkers since it is narrow. We also realised that it would pose a challenge for those using wheelchairs and walking sticks due to its uneven placement and gaps.
Suggestions and Comments - Be sure to visit the Diyawanna Floating Deck which is an ideal spot for a fantastic view of the Diyawanna Oya or even some yoga stretches! We hope the government invests in more parks like this which are surprise finds in the city rather than driving for hours to catch a glimpse of greenery.
4. Kimbulawewa Jogging Track
Rating - 3/5
Basic Facilities - Overlooking a picturesque stretch of paddy fields, the Kimbulawewa jogging track is located near the Diyawanna track. Occasionally, one may observe local farmers tending to their harvest. The track itself is fairly narrow, uneven at points and disrupted by utility poles. It also appears extremely close to the main road. However, there are signboards to estimate one’s progress for the day.
Additional Facilities - Unlike its counterpart, the Kimbulawewa track is adjacent to several street vendors selling local eateries and fresh thambili. Outdoor exercise machines have been placed to give your muscles an extra stretch! Cement blocks serve as a sitting area for 30 people. A children’s play area and food court with a public toilet are visible further down the road.
Safety and Security - Since there isn’t a car park adjoining the track, parking here would be at your own risk.
Suggestions and Comments - We preferred the overall layout of the Diyawanna track as the Kimbulawewa track requires a few improvements. Bins are essential since the pavement with street vendors is unclean. For a change of landscape and usage of outdoor exercise machines however, this track is suitable.
5. Urban Wetland Park, Nawala
Rating - 3.5/5
Basic Facilities - The jogging track itself is wide and there is ample space for a multitude of people and it is well lit by solar powered lamps. And the path itself is a straight stretch along a channel of water. However the park lacks cycling track.
Additional Facilities - There is a small park which is very well maintained (the best we saw around Colombo) and quite beautiful and boasts of its lotus shaped ponds. There are also benches along the jogging track and you are allowed to sit on the cement beam within the park as well. There is also a notice board with instructions for a healthy lifestyle which can be quite helpful but is only available in Sinhala and Tamil which is undeniably unacceptable.
Safety and Security - Limited parking is available at your own risk. And the jogging stretch is straightforward. There are security guards placed within the park that will assist you. You may be confronted with an occasional stench from the waterway.
Suggestions and Comments - The track could benefit with the addition of a water dispenser, a public toilet, a cafeteria of some sort and bins. They must also find an additional parking space as the existing one quickly fills up during the weekend or a holiday. We’d give it a four point rating if all you want to is get some quick cardio done. Considering the facilities available at other walking/jogging tracks however we gave this a 3.5.
5. Viharamahadevi Park
Rating - 4/5
Basic Facilities - The jogging and cycling track is quite large and it helps that the park itself is located in the heart of Colombo. It is also well lit by solar powered lamps. There are accessible public toilets and bins along the pathway. But we will warn you of the possibility of running into some R-rated action on your exercise round!
Additional Facilities - It lacks a main food court but there are enough street vendors around from whom you can buy some snacks and drinks. The children’s park at Viharamahadevi has been popular for decades and attracts a big crowd. As the track is quite large you can avoid that area.
Safety and Security - Parking is available at your own risk. Lack of sufficient parking is also an issue. Within the park itself there are guards patrolling around. While it is fairly secure, a few joggers have expressed concerns of the track’s proximity to the main road and the occasional comments made by motorcyclists.
Suggestions and Comments - The track could benefit with the addition of a water dispenser and definitely more space for parking. As there is a large cycling track it would be beneficial to be able to rent a cycle like you are able to in some parks. Considering the facilities available at other walking/jogging tracks however we gave this a 4.
6. Weralessa (Bellanwila) Jogging Track
Rating - 4.5/5
Basic Facilities - This track offers a breathtaking view of the lake surrounding the famous Pillawa temple. It offers the most serene experience early morning or late evening with the sunrise and the sunset. The jogging track amounts to a 3km round with an accompanying cycling track.
Additional Facilities - Sit on one of the many benches along the track to appreciate scenic sights as you can also spot many beautiful birds and fish. You are also able to rent a bike at a very reasonable amount of Rs. 100 for per hour. The food court also has a large seating area with lots of shops and public toilets. There are also free exercise classes conducted by instructors from the ministry 3 to 4 times of the week (Times are available on the noticeboard.)
Safety and Security - There are two parking spaces available at the two opposite ends of the park. And there are only 4 main entrances to the park so once you enter you are protected from the main road and vehicles passing by. Protective barriers have been placed by the lake to prevent crocodiles from entering the track.
Suggestions and Comments - The track could benefit with the addition of a water dispensers and disposable bins and it can get muddy after a heavy rainfall so you need to watch your step. Considering the facilities available at other walking/jogging tracks however we gave this a 4.5.
7. Independence Square
Rating - 4/5
Basic Facilities - The jogging and cycling track is not as large but it is conveniently located in the heart of Colombo. It is also well lit by solar powered lamps. It is not one large track and there is no particular path to follow and you can enter the track from wherever you please.
Additional Facilities - There is a small gym in which you can find sufficient equipment for a decent workout after a jog. It is only open in the morning and evening hours and is open to the public with the services of an instructor.
Safety and Security - Parking is available at your own risk. Lack of sufficient parking is also an issue as there is only a small space within Independence square. Most often people park along Independence Avenue or use the Racecourse parking space. It is fairly secure, but you are exposed to the main road and you may encounter some catcalls occasionally.
Suggestions and Comments - The track could benefit with the addition of a water dispenser and disposable bins. The lack of public toilets in the immediate vicinity is also a huge problem. As there is a large cycling track it would be beneficial to be able to rent a cycle like you are able to in some parks. Considering the facilities available at other walking/jogging tracks however we gave this a 4.
We would also like to make a general suggestion regarding all these parks. Most of us use public or office transport services to travel daily. Therefore have no place to leave our belongings if we want to use these jogging and cycling tracks. The introduction of some lockers at a reasonable price would make a world of a difference and encourage a lot more to embrace this popularly growing health conscious lifestyle.
By Stephanie Nicolle and Jithendri Gomes
PHOTOGRAPHS by Pradeep Dilrukshana