Galle Face Green
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Author:  LankaLibrary [ Sun Jun 26, 2005 12:41 am ]
Post subject:  Galle Face Green

Galle Face Green

"About half past five o'clock, the Galle Face or Hyde Park of Colombo begin to wear an animated appearance, there being many vehicles and horses in motion. Every description of conveyance is seen driving round the Galle Face from the Long Acre built carriage of the Governor and the dashing phaeton of the wealthy merchant, to the uncanny gig, the country built palanquin and the humble bandy" (1850).

With everyone out for their evening stroll on Galle Face.....,

This promenade on the sea face stretching one and a half kilometers was laid out in 1859 by the British Governor Sir Henry Ward. Used for horse racing a hundred years ago it is now the largest open space in Colombo and a haunt for children, vendors, teenagers, lovers, merrymakers and all those who want to indulge in their favorite pastimes next to the sea under the open sky. It is at its busiest on Saturday and Sunday evenings when it is packed with food vendors doing brisk business with hordes of picnickers.

At one end is the Ceylon Intercontinental and at the other the quaint Galle Face Hotel, a relic of old world charm with its fine old furniture, hand carved doors, balconies and high ceilings.

Galle Face Green, as it is known is the walker's paradise, as also the hawkers. Vibrant evenings, specially Sundays are testimony to that. Kids frolic in the froth and the poetic rhapsodies in the horizon, precariously balanced on the parapet from where steps lead you to the beach below. Romeos about, as young couples while away the time huddled under umbrellas gazing at the sea starry-eyed, creating their own dreams. Everyone gazing keenly at the rolling waters as if searching for the real meaning in life.

A group of muslims girls bathing their feet after school.@ TrekEarth / Photo Copyright: Fernando Rodriguez

Here families spend their Sunday evenings indulging in childish pranks like kite-flying and just running free. Fast Food Stalls would set themselves up and the air would be filled with the tantalizing aroma of barbecued chicken and hot hot samosas.

This once virginally beautiful area, with acres of lush green turf straddling a gracious walking promenade with the mighty Indian Ocean thundering at a lower level has been transformed today into a sleek manicured outfit to be on par with modern Colombo.

But today, despite the stone plaque that poignantly stands overlooking the ocean, its granite not touched by the salt spray that beats across it daily, proclaims " Galle Face Walk - Commenced by Sir Henry Ward 1856 Completed 1859 and recommended to his successors in the interest of the Ladies and Children of Colombo", the Galle Face Green has shrunk from its vast expanse in the nineteenth century to a mere 18 acres diminished under road expansion and fenced-in streamlining in the 21st century.

View [south] towards Galle Face Green. Originally used by the British army as a parade ground - and an execution place for mutinous soldiers. Photograph by Robin Walsh © 2002

The cost of keeping the Galle Face Green in shape costs about Rs. 10 million a month.

Author:  LankaLibrary [ Thu Jan 17, 2008 9:35 pm ]
Post subject:  Was Galle Face really called Gale Fausse ?

Was Galle Face really called Gale Fausse ?

The southern land-approach of the Dutch fortifications they called "the Castle" comprised the ramparts, two batteries called Rotterdam and Middleburg, a moat and draw-bridge. The Gateway which gave access from the Castle to the glacis was called "the Gal Gate", since the fortification faced Galle.

by Arjuna Hulugalle
@ The Island /03Jan2008

Here is an unsigned extract from a DBU journal.

"The Origin of the Name Galle Face: The name of the well known sea-front promenade and lung of Colombo, has been open to much speculation and many and varied derivations have hitherto been given. Here is one light on it. Like many another place name in Ceylon, this name too appears to be an anglicized corruption.

The southern land-approach of the Dutch fortifications they called "the Castle" comprised the ramparts, two batteries called Rotterdam and Middleburg, a moat and draw-bridge. The Gateway which gave access from the Castle to the glacis was called "the Gal Gate", since the fortification faced Galle. These works were finished off by an entrenchment called a Fausse-braye ditch and a low parapet behind which infantry could shelter and effectively prevent the enemy by musket-fire from getting near enough to the ramparts to effect an escalade. In as much as the Dutch called the gate "Gale Gate", they called this work Gale Fausse which in anglicized form came to be Galle Face."

A glacis is a slope extending down from a fortification.

Fausse braye means a parapet (usually earthen) traced parallel to the enceinte of a fortified place between the enceinte rampart and main ditch. Its object was to increase a fortified place's power of resistance by adding an advanced enceinte that would have to be overpowered before a besieging army could attack the main rampart.

Escalade is the act of scaling defensive wall or ramparts with the aid of ladders or siege towers, and was a prominent feature of siege warfare in medieval times. It was one of the most direct options available for attacking a fortification, but was also one of the most dangerous.

It would be interesting to find out if any reader has a different version of the origin of the name Galle Face. Especially, those senior citizens who enjoy a daily walk at Galle Face in the morning would be intrigued to figure out the location of the "Castle", the two batteries Rotterdam and Middleburg, the moat and the draw bridge which were adjacent to the Galle Face over three hundred years ago.

Author:  LankaLibrary [ Thu Jan 17, 2008 10:00 pm ]
Post subject:  Galle Face or Galle Fausse?

Galle Face or Galle Fausse?

by U L A Gunasekera
@ The Island / 10Jan2008

In your esteemed columns of 03 Jan. 2008, Arjuna Hulugalle on the name Galle Face and how it came to be so named, takes it to Dutch times when Galle which is named for what it is in Sinhala, was a well known land mark, a haven for sea farers and a centre of trade. It is note worthy that many human settlements on the maritime coast of Sri Lanka commencing from Kalpitiya Southwards to Tangalla and on to Kalkudah reflect the identity of the natural features which gave them their name.

There is seen a misconception when Galle Face which could be named so as a corruption of the original Gal Bokka, by long usage is regarded as following from the Dutch Fausse. It is far fetched to surmise that the term Galle Face arose because it faced Galle. For, in those far off days, Galle was as far, taking days of tortuous travel on horse back or in carriage traversing unpaved tracks and crossing wide expanse of river by ferry. The area of sea shore at Galle Face where the light house stands, is strewn with rock boulders and is known to this day as Gal Bokka. Where Galle Face begins, Gal or rock is an unmistakable presence.

A consideration of the term Galle Face is linked with the fanciful and pedestrian interpretations of the name Colombo where exists a promontory of rock boulders extending North from Gal Bokka which was used way back in time by Arab sea farers as a haven. It can be assumed that the term Gal Ambara rolled off the foreign tongue as a sonorous Colombo. Gal Ambara was the whole of which Gal Bokka was a part. The Glacis mentioned by Arjuna Hulugalle as a part of the fortification called the Galle Gate supports the interpretation as Gal Bokka though not that of any connection with Galle.

Another factor that should be considered is that the Fort of Colombo had always been a position of defence for the European invaders. The Southern approach to the Fort would have been of small significance The approach route of their enemy was from the East, the Kelani River, Malwana, Kotte and what is now known as the Beira. For so many reasons, it is unlikely that the view from Colombo gave Galle Face its name.

The Galle Fausse theory might gain acceptance by default unless the knowledgeable D G A Perera clears the confusion of Galle Face as well as the origin of Colombo.

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