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Sunday, 1 February 2015

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Independence Square:

The symbol of freedom

The Independence Hall at the Independence Square, stands out as a marvel. While Sri Lanka was marching towards Independence, a building of this nature depicting the national heritage and culture was an urgent need realised by the then Prime Minister, D.S. Senanayake.


The formal ceremony marking the start of self-rule, with the opening of the first Parliament at Independence Square by Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester in the presence of Rt Hon D.S. Senanayake as first Prime Minister of Ceylon.

The swearing-in ceremony of the sixth Executive President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was held at the Independence Square after the recently held elections adding to it's importance. The Independence Square is transformed into a place of festivity during Independence day celebrations.

The Hall is in a picturesque land. Being built on a high flat form with steps leading to it, supported by pillars depicting ancient architecture and adhering to Kandyan standards, is similar to the hall at Dalada Maligawa with its artistic roof adorning the centre.

The building is a breathtaking creation reflecting our cultural and historical heritage. Brain child of Prime Minister D.S. Senanayake, this masterpiece epitomises the pride of the nation the task was entrusted to Sir John Kotelawala the then Minister of Transport, who was in search of a suitable venue in the capital city of Colombo, spacious enough to accommodate the participants.

The land owned by the Horse Racing Association was acquired to site the new building. A group of Architects consisting F.H. Billimoria, University Architect Shirley de Alwis, Colombo Town Planner Oliver Weerasinghe, J. Samarasekera were consulted. Kotalawala selected the structural plan purely based on Kandyan traditional architecture which creates a distinct Sri Lankan identity. But before its completion, sadly Prime Minister D.S. Senanayake passed away on March 1952 due to a fall from a horse. The construction work was resumed by the Prime Minister S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike and the Independence day celebrations were held in all its grandeur at the Independence Square. This towering edifice in the heart of Colombo found in an ideal site remains the symbol of Independence, justice and fair-play. It is today an ideal place to walk along and a popular venue for physical exercise.

The majesty and the elegance of the entire setting provides a cool shade to every passer-by instilling in him, a sense of pride and glory. This great edifice is a blessing to the entire nation promoting stronger bonds of unity among communities irrespective of caste, creed, race, religion and political affiliations.

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