Friday, May 07, 2021

The Streets of Galle Fort


The Streets of Galle Fort

A trek through the streets of Galle Fort since the sixties

NN=Nickname (a common practice among the Moors of Ceylon used to identify families based on some significant event, business practice, or personal attribute)


This work started out sometime in the 2020s after the work on “Bamba Days” and “Wellawatte Ways” was nearing completion. The object of the exercise was to identify, map, and record, the streets, homes, and people, who lived around the streets in the Fort of Galle, similar to what was done for the towns of Colombo. The record begins at the entrance to the Fort from Galle Road and moves through the maze of the streets within, all the way to the lighthouse at the south most tip.

Obtaining information by contacting those who lived in Galle in the 60s was no mean task as many of them were off my radar and out of reach. 

Many friends from Galle Fort have extended their assistance by way of information about the streets they still live in. Due recognition, by name, is provided at the end of this blog post.

The work has now evolved into a huge canvas of the Fort, remembered and compiled and which now has documented many wonderful memories from the best times of the lives of the contributors.

Fazli Sameer/ 2021



 Entrance to the Fort

As the train from Colombo reaches Galle, in three hours, and one leaves the precincts of the station, the look of the town does not appear to justify any of the historical importance attached to it, The 116 km drive by car on Galle Road has now been reduced to one hour, if one chooses to take the new southern highway. Once in town it doesn’t take much to discover the entrance to the little town within Galle fort. The ancient town has seen many changes & upheavals during the last few centuries, but perhaps none like the quiet one that it is presently experiencing. The Fort has been declared an archealogical reserve and a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1969.


The Portuguese captured Galle from the Sinhala kings in 1587, only to succumb to the Dutch in 1640. The Dutch considerably enhanced the Portuguese fortifications, says Nora Roberts, a long time resident of Galle who spent ten years researching its history.


All Dutch possessions in Ceylon passed to the British by treaty in 1796, including the legacy of Dutch style tropical houses & grander administrative buildings within Galle Fort. The British continued to use Galle as Ceylon's chief port, until Colombo superseded it, around 1880 (Robert's 1993).


When the British moved from Galle Fort to Colombo, the Muslim community began to establish a presence there although there had remained, until as relatively recently as the end of WW2, a sizable Dutch Burgher community,


Statistics indicate that the Muslim community accounted for 80% of Galle Fort's population, while the majority Sinhalese community made up the remaining 20%. Nora Roberts also notes that "Inside the fort surrounded by Dutch ramparts,  life still moves leisurely at dusk when the

offices & schools are closed  & kindly ghosts moved up and down in the Galle Fort town..." in her appropriately titled book, “Galle as quiet as asleep” (1993).


A combination of historical & architectural significance had led Galle Fort to be declared a world heritage site. This attracted World Bank funding for renovations completed to the court complex. The existence of justice & other government departments located within the Fort is the main reason why people outside the Fort disturb its otherwise tranquil atmosphere.


Local owners of  Dutch colonial period houses numbering more than 300, have been sold to many foreigners in recent years.


The Galle Dutch Fort has been declared a World Heritage Site, the qualification establishing the city of Galle as a “Main Stream” entry in the agenda of any visitor who steps on the shores of Sri Lanka.


The fort itself has six sides and the walls are connected together through 14 bastions. The main entrance to the Galle Fort is from the north. This is called the New Gate as the British added it to the fort in the late 19th century. Walking clock-wise from the main entrance, the path goes past the Sun Bastion to the “Old Gate” where the British had their Court of Arms engraved on the top of the entrance. Inside the ‘Old Gate” the Dutch era of the East India Company is clearly visible with the words VOC engraved in the inner wall. These initials stand for “Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie”.

 Next comes the Black Fort marked as the Zwart Bastion, built perhaps by the Portuguese and hence being the oldest of the Galle Fort Bastions. The walk along the ramparts takes you past the Akersloot Bastion and the Aurora Bastion and brings you to the Galle Fort Light House. The southernmost point of the fort is the Flag Rock and then the ramparts angle to the north to reach the Triton Bastion followed by the Neptune Bastion, Clippenberg Bastion and Aeolis Bastion ending at the strong north wall in which stands the Star Bastion and the Moon Bastion.


Some of the significant heritage monuments in Galle Fort are the Dutch Reformed Church, with its historic belfry dated 1707 and cast in 1709, which rang every hour; the old Dutch government house; the residence of the Commander; Great Warehouse near the Old Gate,

built around 1669 to store spices and ship equipment (which now houses the National Maritime Museum); the Old Dutch Hospital; the Meera Mosque built in 1904; (rebuilt by Ahamed Haji Ismail in 1909), the Buddhist temple built at the site of Portuguese Roman Catholic Church; the All Saints Anglican Church built in 1871; the 1882 Clock Tower donated by Samson D’Abrew Rajapakse of Kosgoda (built in memory of the eminent surgeon, Dr P Daniel Anthonisz, a Dutch Burgher citizen) and the 1939 Galle Lighthouse, Groote Kerk (Dutch Reformed Church), New Orient Hotel, Breadfruit Tree, Groote Kerk (Dutch Reformed Church)

 Inside the Fort there are two museums, the Dutch Museum and the Maritime Museum. Both are disappointments as museums go, specially considering that you would expect a treasure trove of historical information and documents. The Groote Kerk or Great Church still stands as it did from Dutch times. The original church has been refurbished through the years. Today it is more a memento of the British times than the Dutch. 


                                                                     Mosque & Lighthouse


Reinforced by the Portuguese in the 16 century, Galle Fort was later fortified and conquered by the Dutch in the 17 century, until it was colonized by the British in the 19 century. The town of Galle was once used as a trading port for spices and other goods for many centuries by Arab, Chinese and Indian merchants. It is recorded that the natural harbour on its coast has been used by travelers and traders from pre Christian times.



Galle with its splendid bay and massive defences has been compared to some of the best of Europe’s coastal fortress towns.  It is believed that Galle is the biblical port of Tarshish to which King Solomon sent his ships to trade for ivory and spices.  A tradition continued by Arab traders in later times.  

The Arabs called the port Qali.   The name Galle may have been derived from the Sinhala gala (rock), being a reference to the large rock that stands just outside the anchorage.  

Alternatively it may been derived from the Sinhala gaala, that is enclosure for the bullock carts that called at the port.  The latter is the more likely version of how the name was derived.  The Portuguese and the Dutch translated the name into the Latin for cockerel, gallus and called it respectively Punte Gale and Punto de Galle. The Coat of Arms of the Dutch commandant of Galle consisted of a cockerel standing on a rock.

The Fort

                                                           Aerial view of the Galle Fort

The Fort sits on a small rock ringed projection into the sea on the Western side of the bay.  The shape of the projection dictated the nature of the defences and when in 1505 the Portuguese first came to build the fortifications to protect their growing township they built a wall across the projection and strengthened it with three rounded, flat sided bastions, one at each end and one in the centre.  Approach was restricted to a causeway at the eastern end leading to an entrance near the harbour.

The Dutch took the Fort in 1640 and rebuilt the defences following closely on the Portuguese pattern with the old bastions built as a core into much larger new works - the Sun bastion on the east, the Star bastion on the west and the Moon bastion at the centre.

They built nine new bastions, clockwise from the east Zwart, Akersloot, Aurora, Utrecht, Flagrock, Triton, Neptune, Clippenburg and Aeolus and joined them to the three older bastions with a rampart running right round.  Among the other improvements of the Dutch was an ingenious and perhaps unique drainage system which used the ebb and flow of the tide to flush the sewers.  

The approach continued to be over the causeway with the sea virtually encircling the Fort with water right up to the foot of the wall.  The Fort continued as the Dutch seat of Government in Ceylon until the capture of Colombo in 1656 and thereafter as the Southern Headquarters.  The Coat of Arms of the Dutch East India Company (VOC – for Vereenigde Oost Indische Compagnie) can be still seen over the inner archway of the original gate.

The Fort came under the British at end of the Eighteenth Century as a result of the treaty of Amiens.  They made a few alterations – the draining of the water outside the main front, the forming of two roads, one over the causeway and one through the new gate they opened between the Sun and Moon bastions.  The British Coat of Arms appears over the outer archway of the original gate.

The Fort continued as a British possession until 1948 when Sri Lanka gained independence.

The Fort still retains its characteristically Dutch architecture with gabled buildings, built with large verandahs supported by round pillars. Houses such as ‘Jasmine Cottage’ still retain their massive carved doors which are in four sections.


Family tradition traces their beginnings in Sri Lanka to Yemeni traders who had settled down in a little hamlet called Kachchiwatte by Magalle laying just behind the anchorage that later developed into the Galle harbour.

The existence of this community is also referred to by Ibnu Batuta, the Moor  from Tangier who states that in CE 1344 he was entertained at Qali (the name by which the Moors still refer to Galle) by a ship’s captain named Ibrahim2.

In 1774 a Moorish widow living in Magalle had complained to the Dutch Commandant of Galle that she and her daughters were being harassed by some hooligans living in the vicinity.  The Commandant had made arrangements for the widow and her daughters to live within the Fort.  The fact that a Moorish widow and her seven daughters lived in the Fort is evidenced by an entry in Willem Jacob Van der Graff’s enumeration of 1789.  The name of the widow is given as Raheema Umma.  The names of the daughters however have not been recorded.

In British times Chief Justice Alexander Jhonstone had a copy of the inscription on a tablet found at the mosque by the rivulet at Kachiwatte, flowing into Galle harbor, sent to England for translation.  The tablet recorded that in the latter part of the Tenth Century, the Abbassid Caliph of Baghdad, At-Taib’Illah Abdul Karim Abu Bakr (CE 974-991) had sought the permission of King Udaya IV to send one Khalid Abu Bakia to provide religious instruction to a community of Muslims living in Galle.

written by (the late) Naufel Abdul Rahman, 2020


The Streets of Galle Fort

Esplanade Road (entry to the Fort)

 This is the main Galle Road that borders the Galle Cricket Stadium and wends it way through the rampart gates into the Galle Fort

Baladaksha Mawatha

A street in the town of Galle, outside the Fort, that starts from the Esplanade Road and runs along the north eastern border of the Fort, entering at the Queens Street intersection.


Queens Street

Located right opposite Church Cross Street, this road leads to the old Fort Gate where the Latin inscription “Deu et Mon Droit” (My God & my country), is inscribed. There are two very large old wooden gates, Ms Walker Sons & Co Ltd (1936), one of the oldest engineering corporations in Sri Lanka, Queens House (1873), are located at this entrance.

Gas Station

The Government Archeology Department office.

National Maritime Museum

Leyn Baan Street

It is related that the street name is actually pronounced as “Line Baan” because it was used to make rope for the ships that docked at Galle harbor. “Line” is rope in Portuguese.

The street has manu homes and buildings and starts at the crossing of  Hospital Street and Queens Street at the old gate. The street is also lined with many antique, curio, gems and jewellery shops. There are also many law offices of the leading lawyers in the Fort.The street crosses New Lane I, passes Small Cross Street and ends at the Meeran Mosque.

Magistrates Court, Orlando Antique House and the historical mansion owned by MA Gaffar

Several people who lived down this street are,

NN=Kaka-Bo, Cader & Fathima and daughters Zuhriya and RAINA

Piyadasa’s boutique

Sugatha (Private car hire) & family, daughter Mangala

NN=Kuhafa Nana Udu - Shirani, Shireen, Abdullah, Ilyas, PAKKIR, KULZUM, SAFEENA, MALEEHA, & JASEEMA

#64 NN=Kurvi Udu - Fathuma (Abdul Razak) and children, Fazlani, & Shamriya

NN=Doll, Khaija and children, Rizniya, Zaim, Ramza

AMS Deen (Khadija Hanoon Marikar), Fazeena, Noor Ajward

Ibrahim, Hasaniya, and children Naadiya, Shaheera, Ijaz, Ishara, Bilal, Vizla, Bishara, Zahra

Mariamatha (husband is a traditional gem cutter), children Kamal, Siddeeq, Kaleel, Cassim, Naseema, Saniya, Fareeda, & FAREEKA

NN=Gutham - Haniffa Nana, daughter Haleema, son in law Mohideen, grandchildren Muzammil, Naima, Mudassir, Zuhair, Zaahira, Maahir & ZUBAIR

#61 NN=Abul Hassan Hajiar Udu/Del Gaha Gedera (Breadfruit tree house): Abul Hassan and Sithy Khadija; their progeny; Hussain (Aishathul Alaviya), Mahmood Ismail (died at 2 years), Ibrahim (Noorul Hasaniya), (Haleema-thus-Sa’diya (Abdul Haseeb), Shamsadeen (Zainun Nadha), Hamza (Fathuma) and Sithy Ameera (S.M.H. Abdul Cader).

Muwaffaka writes “according to my grandmother (Haleema-thus-Sa’diya), this house used to belong to her mother’s paternal aunt. She was childless, and gifted the house to her niece, my great-grandmother Sithy Khadija. My grandmother also used to say that, according to her parents, she went without a name for almost a month after she was born as her parents were looking for a good meaningful name. Then her mother had a dream where this Grand aunt asked her to name the baby after herself - Haleema-thus-Sa’diya."

Muwaffaka further adds, “My grandmother and all her siblings except one (her oldest brother Hussain, who moved to Thalapitiya) settled down in Galle Fort (grand uncle Ibrahim (owner of the envelope factory in Galle Fort) and Ummamma- my grandmother at Leyn Baan Street, Grand uncle Shamsadeen at Church Street and Grand uncle Hamza at Light House Street). My Umamma told me that our house was also called Pokshu Uudu, because my Grandmother's granddad used to be a skilled marksman and when he went bird hunting, his sack (Pokshu) would be the one to get filled quickly with the birds he shot.”

Haleema and her older brother Hussain, married another set of siblings; Abdul Haseeb and his sister Aishathul Alaviya, cousins from their mother’s side. Hussain and Aishathul Alaviya moved and settled down in Thalapitiya making frequent trips to the ancestral house at #61 in Galle Fort with their kids; Ilyas, Irfan, Sithy Khadija, Fareehan, Noorul Azmiya, Sithy Nuwaira, Ahmed Hassan and Sithy Farahiya.

Haleema and Abdul Haseeb settled down at #61 with their kids: Mahroof, Aathika, Sithy Nuwaira (Niece they raised as their own) and Fathima Hanim. Mahroof, a founder member of the Galle Muslim Cultural Association (GMCA) and proprietor of GMA Printers in Wellawatte, married Sithy Rumaidha from Fort, Matara and left to settle down in Colombo. Aathika married Zawahir and moved to Weligama. Sithy Nuwaira married Hamza Marikkar (from another Galle Fort Family) and moved to Pedlar Street.

Haleema’s younger sister, Sithy Ameera also lived at #61 with her husband and children, Muhriz, Saththar, Lizam, twins Jiffry and Hassan, Hirzi, Silmy and Badriya, until they first moved to Light House Street, and then to the house at #1, Parawa Street. 

Fathima Hanim Siyoothy

Daughter Fathima Hanim, teacher of English and French, married Abdul Wahab Marikkar Mohamed Siyoothy, a businessman from an offshoot of the family of Sheikh Hassan bin Osman Magdoomy in Dharga Town. Fathima Hanim and Al Haj Siyoothy’s Children; Muwaffaka now settled in USA, working for the State of Oklahoma, is married to Samir Elneser (American of Lebanese origin and direct descendant of the Grand Mufti of Northern Lebanon, Sheikh Wahib Ibn Ibrahim Al-Baroudi, and also nephew of Ghinwa Bhutto – widow of Pakistan’s Murtaza Bhutto and sister-in-law to former Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto).

Fathima’s son, Munsif Siyoothy, is the Chief Financial Officer and Head Accountant at Prima Ceylon Ltd married to Nusrah Jaufer Sadiq from Colombo and younger son Musfir Siyoothy, is the Marketing Manager for Ebony Holdings, and married to Amraah Shamsudeen whose maternal family is also from Galle Fort

Naajiya aunty taught at my school, Sacred Heart Convent, along with Mummy (though Mummy had joined the school much earlier). It was the only school offering an English Medium curriculum and both Naajiya aunty and my Mom attended it in addition to many of the girls in the Fort during their time. They also maintained a very high standard of discipline

Ismail family, daughter Najiya married to, the late, Irfan Sheriff of Wellawatte, Colombo and have two sons Abdul Maalik (Riyadh) and Abdul Muizz (Dubai)

Najiya from Ismail family belong to the Saleem family Najhani and Saleem. Their progeny: Dr. Sithy Khaidja (Ali), Najiya (Ismail), Ameena (), Shurafa (Iqbal) and Muhaz.

Dr. Khadija Ali, now retired, has a doctorate in Geography from the University of Peradeniya. She worked as a senior lecturer at the Ruhunu University after completing further research and study in her field in UK.

Jayawardene & Family – Progeny: Geethangani, Rasangani, Chithrangani, Thyagarajah, Geetha Rajah, and another son.

#63 NN=Adam Haji House – Periya Khaija, Shinna Khaija, Zubaida, Haleema, Ameena, Ismail, Ibrahim Master and Hanas (uncle). Shinna Khaija later became, in the seventies and eighties, the Quran instructor for the children in Galle Fort who fondly called her “Owziya Maamy”. It was the custom for the kids who completed the Al-Quran, to bring a tray of sweets to share and celebrate that milestone before they ‘graduated’ from Owziya mamy’s school.

The Mahadeva Sisters

Mohamed Khyr Abdul Cader Baba, wife Khadija (Kaija), children Zuhriya, Mahinoora (Marzook), Shukriya (Pakistan) who was married to Omar Dean Ismail and is now married to Sheikh Abdul Jaleel from Quetta in Pakistan, Jasooli, Sithy Haleema (Zeyard), Rahima (Niyas UK) & Minna (Jazly Abdul Wahid). The Khyr Baba family are descendants of Abdul Cader Baba from Egypt & Sinnatha Haleema Sultan Bawa SLM.

                                             Mohamed Khyr Abdul Cader Baba & Khadija

The progeny of the Baba family are,

Mohamed Khyr Abdul Cader Baba

Hussain Sultan Baba

SAC Jiffriya

SAC Sideek Baba

Hameed Sultan Baba

The Sultan Bawa Family

Note: The Sultan Bawa family of Galle claims its ancestry from Caliph Abu Bakr Siddeeq (Rali) of Saudi Arabia. Based on the names of the descendants it is assumed that some of them may have arrived in Ceylon from Yemen in the midst of moving eastwards with the message of Islam. Mohamed Yesri bin Abdul Cader, deceased August 2006, has taken great pains in collecting and compiling most of the details of this tree. May Allah Be Pleased with him.

The patriarch of the family is  Sheikh Ahmed Sultan Bawa, Calipha & Nephew of Sheikh Hassan Appa. He had a son, Haji Abdullah Sultan Bawa (no issue) by his first wife and

several children from his second spouse, Sholommaththa (buried at Sultan Bawa Masjid Burial Grounds, aka Badry Thakkiya, Dangedara, Talapitiya, Galle), as follows:-

Muhammad Ismail Sultan Bawa

Thaha Hajiar Sultan Bawa

Sinne Lebbe Marikar (Sinne Thambi Hajiar) Sultan Bawa

Cassim Sultan Bawa

 Sekam Sacha Sultan Bawa (Alutgama)

Khadeeja Umma Sultan Bawa (Avoo Lebbe Marikar Vilcassim)

Pathumuthu Sultan Bawa

Bassist Hussain Jiffry – A descendant of Sinne Lebbe Marikar (Sinne Thambi Hajiar) Sultan Bawa from Galle Fort

by Faiza Thassim Daily MirrorApr. 23, 2015

 "A lot of people may not realise it but in an ensemble the bass is the lowest harmonic instrument that has the power to change anything on top of it. The bass player can change the chord by just changing the bass note even though he plays one note at a time. I love the sound of the bass

"The bass is such a fun instrument - it's the foundation. It's harmonically and rhythmically fun cos I'm kind of like a drummer with pitch," says Sri Lankan born bassist Hussain Jiffry (who has worked with well-known names in the international music industry such as Whitney Houston, Dionne Warwick,Tom Scott, David Foster, Michael McDonald, Bobby Brown, Steve Winwood and Yanni, to name a few) describing his love affair with the bass guitar. This most sought after musician based in Los Angeles, California was recently on vacation in Sri Lanka with his beautiful wife Neluka. 

"A lot of people may not realise it but in an ensemble the bass is the lowest harmonic instrument that has the power to change anything on top of it. The bass player can change the chord by just changing the bass note even though he plays one note at a time. I love the sound of the bass."

Hussain went on to say, the day he was attracted to playing bass was when he heard the brother of Sunil - of the Gypsies - play bass at a wedding. When he heard them play that  particular night he was mesmerised by the sound of the bass and interested to know what the bass was doing 'underneath'. What everybody usually heard was what's on the top - the melody, he explained.

"People don't realise what the bass is doing until it stops. When it does, they wonder.. oh, wow, what happened...we just lost something.. something very important..! I love being underneath there. I love talking care of the foundations," Hussain says, not disguising the passion in his voice when he talks about his bloved vocation. As the saying goes, if you love what you do, you never have to work a day in your life, and that holds true for Hussain Jiffry.

After graduating from the Musicians' Institute in California in 1989 and playing with random ensembles, it was word-of-mouth that brought many worthwhile offers to this talented and dedicated bassist.

Currently Hussain, who's been a part of brass legend Herb Alpert (of Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass fame) and wife Lani Hall's quintet for the past six years is working on the final stage of their 3rd CD, due to be launched in the near future.

Apart from playing on it he has also engineered it. Hussain also plays and tours with Brazilian piano legend Sergio Mendes who interestingly got his first break from Herb Alpert, whose A & M label released the groundbreaking 'Herb Alpert Presents Sergio Mendes and Brasil '66" album that went platinum. 

Neluka, a musician in her own right, whom her adoring husband describes as an inspiration and a rock, is a talented keyboardist and singer who confesses to having relocated her piano in the bedroom, as that is the only way she gets to play it!

Hussain and Neluka along with their own band is a much looked forward to ensemble at Sri Lankan Association dances in California, also doing justice to the popular 'bailas' of yesteryear.

Hussain has also been generous in sharing his vast knowledge of music and musicianship at a voluntary workshop held for local musicians at the Galadari Hotel recently where the topics included improvisation, ensemble-playing, etiquette, discipline and technique.

"The hall was packed; I was pleasantly surprised that so many people showed up," he said. "This is the first time I've been excited about the bands and musicians in Colombo. It's been dormant for long. But now, there's a lot of hope, with young people trying out various styles and taking chances. This is the only place on the planet I think, where musicians have more work than they can handle!"

In conclusion he said, "I m so happy to see the musicians thriving in CMB and wanna wish them all the best in the coming year and hope they keep up that upward trend of taking chances and being creative, just enjoying and being thankful to be able to play music."

                                     Haleema Abdul Cader & Shukhriya Khyr Baba


                                                                     Khyr Baba Family

NN=Vaalakka Udu - Hassen, wife Khaija, children Hamoori, Foumi, Azmi, Vasbiya, & Vardiya

Mohamed Salie, wife Sithy Nona, children Mohamed, Diana, & Rihana

NN=Manawar Udu (Man-of-War) - Fathumatha, daughter Sithy Baby, son in law Kamal Saheed, daughter Fairooza, grand children Shameena, & Rizan

Muwaffaka, daughter of Fathima Hanim Siyoothy, writes; many of the houses have nicknames. When she was in her story telling mood, my Umamma used to tell the origins of these nicknames. In one of them, she told us the story of how Manawaru Uudu came to get their nickname: one of their ancestors came on a ship called “Man o’ war’ and that name stuck. Umamma used to reminisce about those who lived when she was young and moved out of Galle Fort. One of them was Gotham Haleema who used to live next door to us (#59) and moved to Colombo before I was born. Her 12 children are all over the globe now. They visit us when they come down to Fort. Another is Sabthy Marikar. Uncle Sabthy visited us with Uncle Ifthikar and Uncle Zawahir when Umamma was alive, around late 2010. Umamma used to say that when Uncle Sabthy was a little boy, he was up to all kinds of tricks and would run to ur house to escape being disciplined by his parents and Umamma would fondly remember how she spoiled him to bits! She always had a soft spot for him. That visit by the three of them made her so happy!

 Sabthi Marikar (Sabs)

Levana Marikar & SAC Jiffriya, son Sabthi (Sabs) in UK now, & UMMU. Sabthi is married to Khairia Saleem, daughter of Rafeek Saleem and Sithy Ayesha (Muiza) Mohideen from Colombo. They have two daughters, Shifra and Zara.

Badr, wife Zainul Arafa, children Fazal, Faaris, & NASEERA

Mohamed Faleel, wife Ruwaisa, Daughter Rana, Ruwaisa’s sisters Ruzaika (Wafa), Ruwaiha, ZAAHIRA, and brother Mohideen.

NN=Marikkoodu - Qubraththa, Fathima, Hamza, Shihab, Jiffry, Sadaq, Shareefa & Deen

Thalha Lebbe, wife Sohora, wife’s sister, Durrath (Ibrahim), their children Zahra, Zahiya, Nafeesa, Faseeha, Sithy Noor, Sailabdeen, Usuph, Mohamed and Zahra’s son Shuwaib. 

Mrs Zubair, Cassim, Asma  Datha, daughter Nafasiya, business GIGI Garments

Jiffriya and husband

NN=Rauf Nana house - BJ, wife Ameena, her mother, brothers Periya Jiffry and Shinna Jiffry

Janahitha Guest House

Aisha, daughter Hafsa, son Raazik

NN=Lovi Udu - Sithy, Ameena, Riza, Imtiaz, Raihana, Mohideen, Rasheed Nana, & NAJA

Ismail Marikkar Haji house

ARM Zain, wife Zareena, children Maalik, Saadiq, Thaariq, Jalaldeen, Makki, Azeem, Kareema & Siyana

Dr Rahman, wife Haleema, children Nowfel, Fazniya, Rozana, & AROOSA

Ahamed, wife Ghaneema, children Mifra, Vaheeda, & MAZAHIMA

Jannath, grandmother Thaji Rahmaatha, Zafar, Zanoon, & Rameez

Thangam Datha, Daughter (1) Noor Najma, Magdon Ismail, NASEERA, Daughter (2) Noorul Husna, Harees Master, and their children Lujina (Sanadiya), Lukman, LUTHFIYA, Daughter (3) Hind and her daughter Sithy, Thangam Datha’s nieces Noorul Huda (Marikkar) and Fathuma (Muhsin), Noorul Huda’s children Nadha, Ansar, Mikdam, Fathuma’s children Abdul Cader and Ahmed Jiffry.

Saheed Marikkar, Quraisha, Ilham, Mumtaz, Masheesh, & Kudsi

Zubair, Hameeza, children Mahrooza, Ismail, Shabeer, Shafeek, Muneer, Ameer, Fowzan, JASEEMA, Zeenath, Jiffriya, Hamzath, Dr Salie, Lareefa, daughter Zinha, SAINAMBU DATHA, KHAIJA DATHA, HAREES, & SHUMS

Jaleel Lava, daughter Haleema, Azeez, children AbdulRahman, Shimala, Khaija, Lizama, Mohamed, Ahamed, & Muhsin

NN=Bacha - Nazeer, Khaleeda, Lezmi, Rizan, Ismath, Faasy, & grandmother Aisha

Rauf Nana’s house – B Jiffry, wife Ameena, Ameena’s mum, Shinna Jiffry, Periya Jiffry

Izadeen Mohamed Ismail (retired SC Judge) wife Zuhariya Khyr Baba & family, daughter Shama (Attorney at Law) who is married to Fazal Mohamed, children Taahera & Dayyan, second daughter Imara married to Ahamed Abdul Cader, children Mikhail, Ibrahim Daniyaal, & Buraak

MueenuDeen & Ayesha Naina-Marikar from Wellawatte, in Colombo. Children are Shameema (Sahal Alavi), Shameem (Amina Noordeen from the WM Saleem family), Sakeena (Ramzi)  & Sabeeha.

Ms Durriya Zamzam, formerly lived down Lighthouse Street

Ms Vaskiya Alavi

Fazal Badurdeen, story teller of Galle Fort

Ms Hafsa Ibrahim

Ms Zameela Shamsdeen

Ms Shirani Nizar (Kuhafa’s)

Ms Siyana  Fouz  Kaleel

Ms Sanadiya (Harees) Anver

Abdullah Salie (Australia), brother of Shirani Nizar

Saleem (Dehiwela), Fahmi, Azmi

Ms Mahinoora Marzook

Nowfel Rahman (Fazniya’s brother)

Ms Shanthini Mahadeva

Sadaq Hamza

Fathima Hanim Siyoothy states,

The people who lived in Galle Fort in the 50s and 60s lived in extended family communities with as many as 15 to 20 living in one house in complete peace, tranquility and harmony. The men, when they did marry, went on to live in their spouses homes, as is the tradition amongs the Moors of Ceylon from ancient times. Even today, many of these extended families still live under one roof.

She identifies,

"Mariam Datha’s house had her son, the late Cassim, his wife Careema, their 3 daughters, Munsifa, Fihama, Mufriha and two sons, before each child married and left except the youngest son Miqdam.

Najhani Datha’s house had Najiya, her older sister Dr Khadija Ali and her husband Ali."

"The house was full when my sister Arthika, my cousin Nuwaira (who was raised by my Mother, her aunt, as her own daughter) and myself, were all newly married, before they both left to settle down in their respective houses, one in Weligama and the other at Pedlar Street in Galle Fort."

Adham Hajiar’s house had Periya Kaija’s family, Haleema’s family and Zubaida’s family. 

Ms Hafsa Shums lives with her two daughters, Naira and Naveera, together with their families.

Fathima Hanim states that some of the people living down Leyn Baan Street since 1960s are:


Adham Hajiar’s daughter Zubaida, her husband Kalam, her son Ilyas and Shinna Khaija’s daughter.

Shanthi and Jayanthi Mahadeva

Ms Vasbiya Alavi, daughter Zaima and her children

Fazal Badurdeen and his family

Naufal Abdul Rahman, his family and his sister Rozana

Ms Hafsa Shums, her daugters Naira, Naveera and their families.

Mrs Ghaneema Ahmed and daughter Vaheeda

Hamza and wife Mahrooza

Pushpa Wanigasekera

Leyn Baan Cross Street

Lawyers Offices

YWCA Montessori

Hospital Street

NN=Sinamama Udu/Hotel Udu, MC Abdul Rahims house

Abdul Rahims – 136 years of trading Sun, Oct 26, 2008

A family company standing up to the challenges of time

by Duruthu Edirimuni Chandrasekera

ILM Mohammed Cassim may not have dreamt his small trading business which he established in 1872 in Galle Fort would see its fifth generation – but it did. Mr. Cassim, who had four sons decided to name his business after his oldest son, M.C. Abdul Rahim and also include ‘brothers’ in it, at the time. As such he called it MC Abdul Rahims and Brothers. 

A native of Galle, Mr. Cassim's decision to start the business there was with a lot of insight. At the time Galle Fort, with the Galle Port on one side was a bustling city of trade in the 1800s with a lot of British influence (as Ceylon was a colony of the British Empire).                         

Buzzing trade

Speaking of the inception of their business, the grandnephew of Mr. Cassim, Ruzly Hussein, now Chairman Abdul Rahims, reminisced what he had heard from S.M. Hussein (a son of one of Mr. Cassim's sons) saying that by the 1870s, there was a need for a retail and trading outlet of household items. "The trade was buzzing at the time in Galle Fort. What Mr. Cassim did was seize that opportunity." He said during the latter part of the 1800s, M.C. Abdul Rahim and his three brothers took over their father's business.

represented brands like Prestige, Wedgewood and Johnson Brothers. Also at the time the company had evolved to wholesale and retail," he said.

"Many products that were traded at the time were British.

                                                     Cutlery at the store

In the early part of the 20th century such as the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s, the company

Mr. Rahim did not have any children. "But he was very much involved in the business till he passed away in 1930," Bary M. Jaleel, Managing Director of the company, who is Mr. Hussein's nephew, said joining in the discussion.

"The third generation who were the sons of Mr. Rahim's brothers who had joined the business during the first half of 20th century took over the business after Mr. Rahim. “There were seven brothers and cousins who joined – S.M. Hussein, my father, Cassim Jaleel, Zain Jaleel, Razik Cader, Nizam Cader, Dr. Zain Cader and S.M. Mashoor," Mr. Hussein said.

By this time, Abdul Rahims had expanded into the main street in Galle Town. "By the 1930s we branched out to Kandy and then to Nuwara Eliya – probably in the 1940s. Then we went to Wellawatte in 1958. This year we are celebrating 50 years in Wellawatte," Mr. Hussein said. "We expanded to Pettah as well - this may have been in the 1930s," he added.


So how has Abdul Rahims survived for the last 136 years and onto the fifth generation? "I believe it is all to do with integrity and ethical dealings, through which we built confidence among our customers," Mr. Hussein said.

He recalled an incident which took place four years ago during the Sinhala-Hindu New Year at Abdul Rahims' Galle Branch. "A customer wanted six lemonade glass sets, but they were not available at the time. The man insisted saying, 'We always buy from Abdul Rahims the first purchase for the New Year (Ganu Denu) and it has been a custom.' So I called Bary (Jaleel) in Colombo and got him to get the lemonade sets across to Galle. I asked the man to visit the store in the evening and pick them up. Around five o'clock in the evening he came, picked his ware and was elated," he said. Mr. Jaleel noted that it is a southern custom in Galle to conduct Ganu Denu at Abdul Rahims.

Mr. Hussein also asserted that in the 1930s, Abdul Rahims was dealing with international suppliers. "Petromax Lanterns from Germany and Aladdin Lamps from England were the most popular. This international exposure in business may have taught them how to conduct business with professionalism early on." Mr. Hussein said that during the Second World War, Abdul Rahims opened a furniture manufacturing and selling outlet in Trincomalee to cater to the British Naval base. 

Ruzly Hussein    &    Bary M. Jaleel


 "After the war we closed it," Mr. Hussein said. He added that the fourth  generation, his generation, took over a decade after the Second World War. "I joined in 1964 at the age of 17." By then import licenses had been introduced. Exchange control was in place. "Social ism had taken root, which at the time was very fashionable," Mr. Hussein recalled.

Worst times

However he said the worst times were from 1970-'77. "This was a more invasive kind of closed economic society that took root with three economic-related cabinet portfolios in charge of leftists – Ministry of Finance (Dr. N.M. Perera), Ministry of Constitutional Affairs (Dr. Colvin R De Silva) and Ministry of Housing (Peter Keuneman) together with draconian laws which were economically counterproductive," he said noting one such policy was the ceiling of Rs. 2,500 on income.

"One needed an exit permit to leave the country and there was the Criminal Justice Commission (CJC) which allowed for people to be taken to custody without being hauled before court. These types of economically deterrent laws were in place which inhibited the country," Mr. Hussein said. He said it was the 'worst' era for businesses but Abdul Rahims survived with a lot of difficulty. During 1964, Abdul Rahims branched into industries. Diamond Ceiling fans, Diamond Kerosene cookers, Diamond enamel ware and Diamond glassware were some. Abdul Rahims did this with Hong Kong-Chinese collaboration "We had these industries till 1994-1995, but we realized that manufacturing consumer items with a limited market was not economical due to Indian and Chinese product influxes and we exited this segment in 1995,” he added.

He said that Abdul Rahims started two corrugated carton plants which they sold to Munchee (due to the same reason) in 1995. "After this we just concentrated on retail wholesale and institutional sales. We aggressively did tableware and kitchenware catering to the hotel and the food industry during the last 10 years, "Mr. Jaleel said. Abdul Rahims changed into a limited liability company in 1995. "This was easier to function than a partnership than before and also easier to trade in the stock market,” Mr. Hussein said.

What now?

"We want to do something completely outside trading. We are looking at options in the food industry such as restaurants,” he said. He added the company is also looking at the Maldives for some ventures. He said the company was trying to start housing projects during the last two years, but has put it on hold for the moment due to the current economic downturn. "We also want to enhance our brand network. We have aligned with Singer Mega outlets for cross trading, "he said, adding the company is planning to bring in professionals to the company in a bid to be professionally managed

Stock options

"We would like at some point in time to list on the Colombo Stock Exchange, but a lot of other things need to come into place. That is why we are on the process of professionalizing the company to keep in line with this idea,” he noted.

Proctor & Mrs Ahamed, children Aisha, Khadija (Fowzy Marikar), Fowzia (Cader), Ilyas (Minna Aziz), Ismeth (Faisha), Izzath (Rizvi Marikar-Bawa), Hilmy (Fazliya Wahab), Fathima (Jadeed Hameed). Fueza (Mohideen), & Anver (Shaama). Izzath went on to become the Sri Lankan Ambassador in Riyadh. His sons are Faizal (Ferial) and Aslam (Shazida Azahim Mohamed). Izzath’s grandkids are 

Nadeem, Nadia, Mariam, & Omar

Saudatha – Aroosiya

Sugatha & family. Sugatha sold seashells and his wife was a worker at the Mahamodera Hospital in Kaluwella.

The Galle Fort Mosque is located on the south eastern corner of the Fort.

                                                          Galle Fort Meeran Mosque

Shaykh Hasan Ibnu Usman Makdoomy Rahimahullah is known to be the first Moorish Saint of Sri Lanka, about whom chronological data is available. Sheikh Hasan is one of eminent wali of Srilanka. Sheikh Hasan popularly known as Alim Sahib Appa among his disciples (mureeds) in Sri Lanka.

Shaykh Hasan was born in Sholai, Thalapitiya, Galle in 1785 AD (Hijri 1200) 

His father is Usman Makdoomy Ibn Fareed of Aluthgama and his mother is Fathima Siddeeka, the daughter of Katheeb Sheikh Mohamed of Galle.

Shaykh Hasan is a direct descendant of Sayyidina AbuBakr Raaliyallahu Anhu. Sheikh Hasan’s mother died on the ninth day after his birth and he then came under his aunt cares.

Shaykh Hasan had his early education in Quran reading and the fundementals of religion in a Madrasa. Later he studied under Shaykuna Lebbai Alim (d.1240 AD/1824AD)  of  Kayalpattinam, India. He studied Tafsir, Hadees, Fiqh and other fundementals of religon under Shaykuna Lebbai Alim (also called Shaykuna Pulavar).

Shaykh Hasan was the first Katheeb of Galle Fort Mosque and he was involved in trading and business as a profession.

Shaykh Hasan lived for 42 years in his birth place at Galle. He spent his later life in Hambantota, Trincomalee, Kandy, Ganetanne, Maggona and finally in Aluthgama. He was a great scholar in Theology having studied extensively at the Al Azhar University in Cairo


Other residents

Sugath, Nimal, whose father ran a guest house, the first one on Hospital Street, and charged Rs 1/- per day for tourists stay.

Mohamed Shums Cassim, son of Rohani Cassim, who lived adjacent to the Meeran Mosque, practiced law in Kurunegala for over 25 years. He was the first Muslim lawyer in the city. In recognition of his all-round services, the honour of MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire) was conferred on him in 1949, and in 1953 the Government showed its appreciation of his work by electing him a Senator.  He died on 20 May 1954, the Day of the Battle of Badr in Islamic History.

Cassim, known in later years as Rohani Cassim is the progenitor of the family.  He rebuilt the original house given by the Dutch commandant, named it ‘Jasmine Cottage’, and lived there with his large brood.  The house is still owned by a branch of the family.  The house stands at the southern end of the Fort at the junction of Church Street and Rampart Street. It is the two storied house seen on the left of the picture below by the mosque. The land for the mosque was donated by Rohani Cassim.

Shums Cassim was the first Muslim lawyer in the city. In recognition of his all-round services, the honour of MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire) was conferred on him in 1949, and in 1953 the Government showed its appreciation of his work by electing him a Senator.  He died on 20 May 1954, the Day of the Battle of Badr in Islamic History.

His obituary was written by Dr. A.M.A. Azeez, then principal of Zahira College, Colombo, in the school magazine “AZ-ZAHIRA”, 1954.

Mohamed Shums Cassim

The Cassim amily descends from Rohani Cassim & Fathuma Makdoom, whose children are,

Shariff Cassim (Asma Magdon-Ismail)

Azizdeen Cassim

Haleema (Fakhir Mohideen)

Thalha Cassim (Abdul Cader Ahamed Ismail aka Red Doray)

Thufa Cassim (Abdul Cader)

Ismail Cassim (Master) (Haleema

Zainoon Cassim (ALM Vilcassim)

Kamer Cassim (Sadath Ismail)

Shums Cassim (Sithy Vilcassim)

Mariam (MP Mohideen)

Khaja Cassim

Haniffa Cassim

5 sons whose names are not known

Mohamed Kamer Cassim, Proctor High Commissioner Designate to Pakistan is one of Rohani Cassim’s sons. He was a lawyer who had his practice in the Hultsdorf suburb of Colombo at the time of his death on April 07, 1947. He was newly-independent Ceylon’s first High Commissioner (designate) to Pakistan when he passed away, and Prime Minister Don Stephen (commonly referred to as D.S.) Senanayake appointed Dr. Tuan Burhanuddin (commonly referred to as T.B.) Jayah to replace him.

 Jehan Kamer Cassim

Jehan Kamer Cassim

Jehan Cassim died on July 15, 2015 leaving behind his beloved wife, Ayesha, two sons Kaleel (Dr), Farman (PC), two daughters Mona and Rifa along with 9 grandchildren. He was a lawyer, Chairman of the Common Amenities Board and then the Chairman of the Bank of Ceylon. He will be sadly missed by all his family, friends and the entire community.

Thaha Sheriff Cassim

Thaha Sheriff Cassim’s celebrated with family, community, and his alumni club when he turned 100 years young on Nov 22, 2019.  Six weeks later, he passed away peacefully on Jan 06, 2020.  He is sadly missed by his family and entire community.

Sent by Nizar Cassim, son of Shums Cassim, and cousin of Jehan Cassim

Firewood shop

Police horses were stabled at the point where the Hospital Street sign now stands. The children of the Fort used to enjoy visiting the stables to see the horses. 

Ms Fathima Hanim states, about the people who are living down this street since the 60s,

Mr Nimal and his wife who ran the first guest house in the Fort levying a fee of Rs 1/- per day

Mr Sugatha, his son and daughter in law

Proctor Ahamed’s House: Proctor Cassim and wife Fareeda, children Anas, Hanbal, Ibrahim and Zeena.

Pedlar Street

Janahitha Hotel 

AHM Hamza & AHM Ibrahim’s envelope factory 

Cassim Nana’s house (hired a buggy cart). Wife Haseena and children Alavi, Nizam, Shamsdeen, Fawqiya, Sithy Noor & Fathuma Saidiya.

Piyasena’s shop

There used to be two laundry businesses on this street. One was run by the Perera family aka “Daahathara Paula” (14 member family).

The street also had a cycle repair shop, motorbike workshop, and a cobblers repair shop.

Reuben’s “Read & Return” bookshop

Nazeer & Rahima family, children Rizan, Rinas, Rinzi, Rizni & BASHEERA

Naim Nona, Sithy Datha (Aishamatha’s house), Najmiya, Nisriya, Nismiya, Nishthaar

NN-Saapu Udu - Khaija Datha, children Sithy Fathuma, Naleefa, Faahira, Firdowsiya, Sharafiya, & Saheedullah

Nabaviya & Chechi, children Susaan, Fathahiya, & Ferial

Thilak Barber Saloon

Laundry (Perera #14 Paula Gedara)

Avoo Lebbe Marikar Vilcassim & Khadeeja Umma Sultan Bawa, children, AM Vilcassim, SAC Vilcassim, MAC Vilcassim, Haleema Umma (AH Ismail), Ayesha Umma (Ismail Ahamed), Pathumuthu aka Moochachee (Jiffry).

MOHAMED ABDUL CADER VILCASSIM (center) with his four oldest children; standing: JIFFRY (left), son – name unknown who died very young (right), seated: ZAIN (left), SITHY (right)

                        Mohamed Abdul Cader Vilcassim’s sons, Zain (left) and Jiffry (right) 

Jiffry Cader Vilcassim & wife Zareena, with their grandson, Nasurdeen

        Sithy Sums Cassim, daughter of Mohamed Abdul Cader Vilcassim with her grandson, Omar

Progeny, Hassan Bary Vilcassim, Hafeel Vilcassim, Athas Vilcassim, Silica (Zulaiha aka Baby Datha) Vilcassim (Mohamed Hajiar Mohamed Junaid [late senior partner of S U  Mohamed Hadjiar] ), Feisal Junaid, Batcha Vilcassim, Shaukath Vilcassim, Thalib Vilcassim, Kaleel Vilcassim, Jiffrey Cader Vilcassim, Sithy (Shums Cassim), Zain Vilcassim, Jiffriya (Abdul Rahman – Thipli), Haleema (AON Hussain, Proctor), Khadija (Shaukath Vilcassim), Halima Umma  (aka Male`Umma) Vilcassim (Ismail A H), Khatheja Umma Ismail (Abdul Careem Aboobucker), Samsudeen Dean Ismail, Cassim Ismail, Ahmed Jamaldeen Ismail, Fathuma Ismail, Ayesha Umma (aka Ayeshamchachi) Vilcassim (Ismail Ahamed), Ahamed Mohamed Ismail, Proctor, Galle (Thalha Nona -  Kakchachi), MIM Saheed, Faleela Ismail (Proctor AM Faloon Markar), Kadija Ismail  (Abdul Cader -Armashi Mama- Ismail ), Hasseena, Haleema, Cassim, Nafeesa Ismail, Pathumoothu Vilcassim –Moochiachchi- ( Jiffrey), Hussain Jiffry, Jiffry (Cobra), Jiffriya, Fathuma, Jawad, Zain Jiffry

                                                        Feisal Junaid with Aaliya & Azra

Haleema Umma Vilcassim, grandmother of Fatima Ahamed (Banerjee) Mother of Khatheja, Samsudin, Cassim, Abdul Cader, Jamaldeen and Fathuma Ismail

                                            Ismail Family (pix sent by Fathima Bannerjee

Standing: ?, Zahir Vilcassim, ?, Fathuma Ismail (Udakotuwa, Fort, Galle), Shireen Bary, Ameen Alavi, ?, Hilmiya Junaid,
Khadija Ismail, Fareeza (Tassy) youngest d/o Thaha Cassim &  w/o Nizam Cader, Sileeja Junaid, Kamal Saheed,
Nizam Cader (Abdul Rahims), Laafat Hassan 

Seated: ?, Sithy Cassim, ? ,Thaha Cassim, Jamaldeen Ahamed, Feefree Careem, Aisha Ismail, ?

Proctor Hassan Bary & family, children Flyla, Zain, Khaija, Ferial, & Nasser

NN=Bouse Udu. Sithy Datha & children Naazly, Fazly, & JAZEEMA

The Magdon-Ismail family are descended from Makdoom (from Alutgama) & Khadija. They lived in a house called “Furqan Lodge”

Makdhoom a descendant of Arab traders who had settled down in Alutgama was an interpreter employed by the British.  Since it was necessary that he lived in close proximity to the seat of the then British Government in Galle, he was accommodated in the barracks within the Fort.

Being a Muslim he had refused to partake in the meals prepared in the barracks and therefore arrangements were made for him to obtain his meals from Raheema Umma’s descendants who had continued to occupy the house provided for them by the Dutch Commandant.  He had returned the favour by marrying Kadija, a great granddaughter of the widow.  Cassim a Moor from Weligama, another little Moorish settlement not far from Galle, was a frequent visitor to the Galle port on account of his business a ship chandler.  He had struck up a friendship with the much older Makhdoom and ended up marrying one of his daughters, Fathuma.

The first known generation comprise, Ahamed (Kami Cader), Hameed, Mohamed (NN=Cheeni Chacha), Sheikh (Segu), Hameem, the father of Furkhan Magdon-Ismail whose name is not known, Saeeda, Masooda, Haleema, the wife of Ishak whose name is not known,  & Mohideen Umma,

The next generation are,

Abdul Cader Magdon-Ismail (Fathima Sameeha)

Khaja Magdon-Ismail

Asma (Sheriff Cassim)

Hafsa (Ismail)

Furkhan Magdon-Ismail (Sithy Safaya Cassim), their son uraiz Magdon-Ismail (Rashada Abdul Rahman)

Zain Magdon-Ismail (Fathuma Vilcassim/Fauziya – Shinni- Vilcassim)

Shums Magdon-Ismail (Noor Najima)

Rasheed Ahamed Magdon Ismail

Alavi Magdon-Ismail

Hussein Magdon-Ismail

Ms Suhaira

Mohamed Cader (Kakabo) Segu Magdon-Ismail

Haleema Cader (Hassan Barry Vilcassim)

Name Not Known (AM Faloon Marikkar)

Fathuma (Zain Magdon-Ismail)

Dr Kamal Magdon-Ismail

Ismeth Magdon-Ismail

Nilam Magdon-Ismail

Hameem Magdon-Ismail

Yousoof Magdon-Ismail


Mahesa & family, children Anusha, Vasundra & Sivam

Vilcassim & Hasana family, children Maalika & Manhal

Careem family, Shafeek & Kajja

Marikkar family, children Hussain, Shamsdeen, Hamza, Farees, Kamariya, Abdul, & ZAKARIYA

Vilcassim family and children Nabeela, Niloufer, Naila, Navaz, & Noufel

Fazeera Markar, is the daughter of Proctor Ahamed Magdon (Faloon) Markar & Faleela (Fali) Ismail 
d/o Ayesha Umma Vilcassim aka Ayshamchachi &
A M Ismail/Faloon  aka AM Markar who had his Law practise in Colombo

Ms Fazeera is married to Shakeer Ismail, lawyer, and is

domiciled in Washington DC, USA now.

She is the author of “Enjoy” a book about Galle cuisine.

Her son Qadri Ismail who wrote the forward for the book is a Professor of English Literature at the University of Minnesota in USA.

Saniya Noordeen and Zohra Vilcassim have also written recipe books on Galle cuisine

Ahamed Sali & wife Haleema. Daughter Zeena

Senator Mashoor & family, children Razaana & Shuwaiba

Nazeer & Rahima, children Rizan, Rinaz, Rinzi, Rizni & BASHEERA

Ms Shakira Khalid

Ms Sharafiya Shahul Hameed



Zain Vilcassim, Fazniya

Raja (14 pawla gedara)

Nawaz Ismail

Ms Shameela & Fathuma Gullan Cader’s house, sisters)

Shafeek, whose parents and sister lived down this street and ran a shop that had anything and everything in it.

NN=Gullan Udu Mr & Mrs Cader. Mr Cader is the brother of Shums (Shums & Co). Children, Shameela, Fathuma, Miskiya and a son, Yesri, who passed away early in life.

Nuwaira Hussain married Hamza Marikar from Pedlar Street and they moved to No. 52 Pedlar Street, which used to be called “Go Go Café” at one time, then “Thushara Café” another time, before she and her husband turned it into their residence. 

Ms Fathima Hanim states that some of the people living down Pedlar street since the 60s are,

Ms Reuben, Ms Sharafiya and husband Shahul Hameedand their son Hifli (Saapu Udu)

The Perera family, Rajah and wife, one of the 14 (daahathara paula gedara) children

Zain Vilcassim and wife Fazniya (sister of Naufal Abdul Rahman), their daughter Razka, son in law, and two grandkids, Sheza & Sheda

The late ‘Gullen’ Cader’s house, daughter Shameela, son in lawAfeefdeen,grandchild Suroori, and great grandkids plus another daughter, Fathima

Shafeek and wife (baby), their daughter, son in law and two grandkids

Church Street

The Church was designed by J.G. Smithers, the government architect, who later designed the National Museum of Colombo. The Church was constructed on the site of a former Court House (1780s). The gallows it is said stood on the site of the present altar. The Anglican congregation in Galle which, up to then, worshipped in the Dutch Church. The church was consecrated on 21 February 1871 by Bishop Claughton, assisted by the church's first vicar, Rev. Dr. George Justus Schrader (1829-1875).

In recognition of Rev. Dr. Schrader's significant contribution to the Church, a large bell was placed in his memory in the centre dome of the Church in 1876. In the mid 1960s, for security reasons the bell was lowered and was left to be sold. It was subsequently bought by the diocese and is now housed in the Cathedral of Christ the Living Saviour in Colombo. The current bell was acquired by the Church in 1968. The bell came from the Liberty Ship, "Ocean Verity", and was donated by the Clan Line Steamship Company

Uzman Anver writes,

 “The All Siants Church was established in 1871. Previously, the court house had its premises at this location. The gallows were situated where the present altar now stands.” - extract from the placard installed at the All Saints Church The Anglican Church or the All Saints Church was built by the British as a response to the Dutch Reformed Church. The All Saints Church too stands as a prominent landscape in the Fort, like the Dutch Reformed Church, as a magnificent architectural master piece of its own. The Architect was James G. Smither and designed by Richard Carpenter.”

“It is believed that originally, the Dutch Courts of 1780’s (Norah Roberts) and the Dutch Gallows was situated where the current Pulpit stand in the Anglican Church. After the British ceded the island in 1796. Many of the Dutch Burghers moved to the Anglican Church from the Dutch Reformed Church. One main reason would have

been the gradual change in the language from Dutch to English within the community. It was at that time that the ruling class had to adopt themselves to the English language. Norah Roberts in her book “Galle as Quiet as Asleep” states the history of many Dutch Burgher marriages at the All Saints Church.

The Anglican Church, similar to the Dutch Reformed Church, do not have any key members from within the Galle Fort, although there is a communion from outside the Fort who attend the Sunday Services. Errol Bultjens, a Dutch Burgher from Galle,was famously known as Charles

as he resembled The Prince of Wales. His mother was the last Dutch Burgher from Galle to live in the Fort.

There used to be weather rooster located right on top of the church triangular roof. It used to turn to indicate the direction of the wind. Some years back during a thunder storm the heavy winds blew out the weather cock, since then the All Saints Church stands like a medieval man with a hat but his elegant feather missing in it. I hope one day they restore it once again, symbolising the “Gallus” of Galle.”

The Queen’s House - Governor’s Residence

“The Dutch conquest Colombo took place in 1656. Galle was conquested in 1640. For 16 years, the ruling seat of the Dutch East India Company of the island was from Galle. The Dutch Fortification process began in 1642 and was completed in 1668. It is possible that the Dutch may have occupied the then remaining Portuguese buildings before they were demolished and had them restructured. The Dutch Commanders residence also known as the Governor’s Residence, Queens House and Walker’s. It was the official residence of the Galle Dutch Commander dates to 1683.”

The Commercial Bank

“George Henry Bogaars, a well known Dutch family owned the premises and ran the Old Mansion Hotel. Later it was sold to the Mercantile Bank of Ceylon. Commercial Bank PLC of Ceylon acquired the Mercantile Bank Branches in 1973. The bank was undergoing a restoration and refurbishment phase as a mark of celebrating its 100 years during the period, ,1920 - 2020

Clan House

“The Clan House is where John Black, who was the first American Consul in Sri Lanka ran the oldest shipping agency in 1847 (Norah Roberts). Black, was a business magnate who ran the oldest British shipping firm. Later, “In 1868, two Scottish merchants, Thomas Clark and Patrick Gordon Spence ventured a partnership and commission under the name of “Clark & Spence”. Edward and SR Aitken joins the partnership in 1873, Colombo and the name of the partnership change to Aitken Spence. In 1876,  Lloyds of London appointed Aitken Spence & Co. as their agents for Ceylon - a position which the Company holds to this date

"Even today the blackboard with the Ship arrival times are visible.”

No.27, Church Street - The Heritage Hotel Galle Fort

“A cherished store which was very dear to many citizens who lived in Galle remeber this premises as the “Kotuwa Kadey”. A humble origin of business, which began by the side of the YWCA and the business picked up quickly. They purchased the bare garage premises of Hayley’s, thereafter and moved out of the Fort to Wakwella Road as “Manjari”.

Now it has been converted to a luxury boutique hotel. Everything you wanted could be found here, the only exception would have been groceries. Some called it the “Pettah under one Roof”. The owner had two daughters. Eldest inherited the sister branch Lady J in Borella and the younger inherited Manjari, which in fact her very own name. A twin branch of Manjari has been opened in Nugegoda, in greater Colombo.”

“The old maps of Galle Fort depicts that their used to be an old Potuguese Church and a graveyard. Thereafter it was used as the Hayley’s Garage & Storehouse. During the refurbishment and construction of the current Hotel in 2012, a whole human skeletal was found and unearthed. Today the area where the skeletal remains were found, remains untouched with a plot of grass, on Church Street and Leyn Bann Cross Street corner of the premises.”

No. 26, Church Street - The Fort Bazar

“This is the former ‘Hill View’ Bungalow of AH Ismail, alias Nondi Hajiar, & Halima Umma Vilcassim (Short Biographical Sketches of Macan-Markar and Related Families by A. H. Macan-Markar 1977). They were known as ‘Malay Umma’s Family Residence’. A wealthy Moor family who initiated and executed in building the current building of the Galle Fort Meeran Mosque in 1909. AH Ismail’s son, Cassim Ismail, Barrister at Law, was the first Ceylonese Muslim to enter Cambridge University, England. Mrs. Riyasa Nassim, grandmother of Uzman Anver, recalls of being a flower girl for one of the weddings at ‘Hill View’. Durdans Hanim – levied a nominal amount of 1 cent from every house in Galle Fort  to build the mosque house so that it provided a community ownership feel. – Mehran. Later the house was bought by Dr Salgado, and, thereafter ‘Teardrop Hotels’ purchases and restored the run down building to what it stands today, housing the ‘Fort Bazar’, a boutique hotel”

No. 28, Church Street - Galle Fort Hotel

“The former family residence of SamsuDeen Macan-Markar, the second son of OLM Macan-Markar, who was married to AH Ismail’s younger daughter Fathima (1917).

He purchased the premises next to ‘Hill View’ in 1920 and named it as ‘Baith’. SamsuDeen Macan-Markar, being a hefty gentleman, needed two rickshaw pullers to draw the cart when it was pulled to his residence through Upper Church Street.

The Archway in the Hall, a Palladian Colonnade was erected by SD Macan-Markar, for his eldest daughter Sithy Katheeja’s wedding to Ahmed Hussain Macan-Markar in 1937 (as stated by Zahariya Sherif daughter of Alavi Raj, the eldest son of SD). The house was completely redecorated and the bridal chamber and the suite rooms were artistically painted by a foreign artiste, Sofronoff, and a suite of furniture, sitting and dining rooms were fashioned by Count de Mauny. A grand celebration comprising 1,500 guests were invited to dinner (Short Biographical Sketches of Macan-Markar and Related Families by AH Macan-Markar- 1977). The wedding was reported in ‘the Ceylon Daily News’, Wednesday August 11, 1937 as ‘A wedding in Galle: Unforgettable Experience in the Land where dreams come true’. Few years earlier, in 1931, Fathima, died giving birth to a daughter, Halima. Halima, a jovial lady but growing up never celebrated her birthday for this very reason nor had much liking to this house of hers.

Later the family moved to Colombo after Samsudeen’s death in 1938. However, the family used to frequently visit Galle Fort. In 2003, the premises was purchased and converted to a luxury boutique villa as ‘The Galle Fort Hotel’ “

Chambers Restaurant

“AM Saheed, a senior veteran proctor in Galle established his Chamber at this premises. The longest practice in Galle, 62 years on record. He was born in 1889, educated at Mahinda College, fluent in Englsih, Sinhala, Tamil, French and Latin. After passing out from Law College, he was enrolled as a Proctor and Notary in 1914. A lucrative practise in Galle was built up with pure hard work, integrity, and devotion towards the client. He was always present when his cases were heard. Even two weeks before his death in 1974 he was seen in courts (Norah Roberts).

AMM Thahir, his nephew joined the practice in 1924, as a partner. It is said that, there were no civil case at the Galle Courts taken up without the Uncle-Nephew duo not being involved (Norah Roberts). ‘Saheed Proctor’, as known by the community, fair tall thin gentleman with a walking stick carried in his hand. One day when his peon was instructed to carry the heavy load of books to Courts, and was finding it difficult to carry them, a witty comment would come as, if you are finding it difficult to carry with your hands, how hard would it me to carry all the load that\ is in it, inside my head… His son, IA Saheed, also a Proctor, continued the practice thereafter. Like the father, he too was a successful lawyer and continued his practice for more than 50 years until his death in 2011. Today, the Galle Bar has honoured both Senior and Junior Saheed’s with deep respect and remembrance at the Galle Law Library with their portraits hanging on then wall.

After a 90 years of being a Law Chamber, Nawal Saheed been an Accountant, transformed his fathers and grandfathers chambers into a Arabic style Moroccan Cuisine Restaurant and named it ‘Chambers’. “

Poo-Kaak-ka Thakkiya

“A mini sufi Lodge maintained and run by ‘Abdul Rahim and Bros.’ dedicated to the Qadiri Sufi Order. Abdul Rahim and Bros, is a porcelain shop began by Poo-Kaak-ka, who didn’t have any children. It functioned as a ‘pallikodam’ (school), where Quran was taught to kids in the evenings. Sadly, due to the dwindling numbers of residents it does not function anymore. However the age old practices of the Prophets’ grandsons been commemorated during the first Islamic month of ‘Muharram’ and the during the fourth Islamic month of ‘Rabiyul Akhir’,and  the great Sufi Saint ‘Abdul Qadir Jeylani’ are commemorated here. Rice parcels would be distributed by the patron family - Abdul Rahim and Bros. to all the Moor residence of Galle Fort”.

Ibrahim Jewellers

“The shop and business of ‘Ibrahim Jewellers’ established in 1909. The jewellery Shop began at Colombo Fort, York Street. When the shop burnt in 1978 and the business was moved to the front room and verandah of No. 47, Church Street”.

“It used to be the home to one of the oldest moor families of Galle Fort. They were; Cassim the White, who had a son called Aboobakr Mudaliyar, married to Pathumuththu Dharth Umma who had 9 children and each one of them was given in marriage to a prominent family of its own. Sir Mohamed Macan-Markar the first Muslim knight in Sri Lanka was born in this house. It is the residence of the Mother of all the Macan Makars, Ameena Umma, the second daughter of Aboobakr Mudaliyar.


Today the residence is owned by Aboobakr Mudaliyar’s

Son, Avoo Lebbe Marikkar’s daughter Haleema Aboobakr’s son Muzammil Ibraheem’s family.


 It was Haleema’s husband Haneef Ibrahim who began the gem jewellery business.”

BIA College

“Al Bahjathul Ibraheemiya Arabic College (BIA), is one of the oldest Arabic College’s in the island, A religious authority in Sri Lanka. It was established in 1892 by OLM Macan-Markar, a business tycoon and philanthropist from Galle Fort, fulfilling the wishes of his beloved wife, Ameena Umma. The BIA College is a traditional Madrasa School of the Sunni School of thought for boys.

During the bygone past, whoever wished to pursue religious studies and become a ‘Mawlawi’, an islamic scholar, had to travel to India, bearing all cost of travelling and lodging.  Ameena Umma, a visionary lady, pursued to fulfil this lacuna of time by establishing a religious learning seat in then Ceylon. Thus how was the BIA College was founded. The institute is patronage under the ‘Shadhili’ Sufi Order. ‘Bahjathul Ibraheemiya’ literary mean’s the ‘House of Ibraheem’, named after the forefather Sufi Mystical Sheikh of the ‘Shadhili’ Sufi Order, Sheikh Muhammed bin Ibraheem al Fasi, who used to visit Ceylon at that point of time from Mecca.

The Men’s ‘Zaviya’, the ‘Shadhili’ Sufi Lodge down Small Cross Street is where the BIA College began. The present premises at No.41 and No.42 were purchased from the Gudaku Mohamed Family by the Macan-Markar’s in 1927.

The College then shifted to the new premises in 1928. Since then it has been functioning and has produced very eminent religious scholars in the island. Students, in completion of their 7 years of studies and apprenticeship,

are graduated as a ‘Mawlawi/Alim’, which literarily means ‘the knower’ or Scholar of Islam, and bestowed the honorary title of ‘Bahji’, named after the school which nurtured them.”

Geylani Manzil - Stair Way

“The residence where OLM Macan-Markar and family resided before they moved to ‘Sea View’. It was called the ‘Shinna Udu’. There is a story which is believed that, one day a poor man who barely was able to walk visited the residence, and he was given some food to ease his hunger, and then he had supplicated to bless all success in life. No sooner after this incident the business prospered.

The cement floor of the house is embedded in a mosaic pattern of colourful ceramic chips. According to Nafeesa Mubarak, Murci Aunty had told her that: The Macan-Markar’s from Egypt got down some porcelain for one of their ceremonies. One box was damaged. Rather than throwing them away, the ceramic chips were fixed on the floor. Nuski Mohamed and Rila Mohamed were the last of the Macan-Markar’s to live in the house. Both are proud products of Richmond College Galle. MIM Mubarak bought the house, thereafter. His family too is one of the oldest families in Galle Fort.

The family of ‘Kunji Atha’, who used to live down Church Street at No.76, now partitioned and given on rent. They are known to host one of the oldest ‘Kandoori’ in Sri

Lanka, commemorating the Holy Prophets Birthday Celebration. Of the 12 days of religious and spiritual celebration, they would be the inaugural family to host the community.”

 “Now the house is named as ‘Geylani Manzil’. And the upper floor of the house has been converted into a Restaurant called ‘Stairway’ run by Yazid.”

Jiffry Thakkiya

“The Jiffry Thakkiya is a Sufi Lodge belonging to the Alaviyathul Qadiriya Sufi Order situated at the lower end of Church Street and Small Cross Street. It is famously known as Jiffry Thakkiya, as all the heads of the Sufi order are named as ‘Jiifry Mawlana’. The property is said to have been gifted to the Thakkiya by the Vilcassim Family and the building was constructed by Thaha Cassim, both native philanthropist from Galle Fort. The largest annual feast in Galle Fort is hosted by Jiiffry Thakkiya. Nethra Samarasinghe, an Anthropologist, in her Dalhousie University Masters thesis “Remaking the Fort: Familiarization, Heritage and Gentrification in Sri Lanka’s Galle Fort” in Chapter 4 explains in its best as extracted below; “On a sweltering afternoon in mid September, the Alawiya Thakkiya (a Sufi lodge) held its annual Kanduri feast. It was the Fort’s first public feast after a month of fasting and was held two weeks after Eid, which marked the end of Ramadan.

 It was a much- anticipated feast: None of the Muslim families of the Fort cooked that afternoon as they all expected to join the festivities. Many of their middle class relatives made the four- hour drive from Colombo, and Muslim families from villages an hour or two down the

coastline arrived in buses and three-wheelers.

By 1pm the sun had reached its peak. There wasn’t a patch of shade in sight, yet, at this hour when Fort People usually retreat into their houses to sleep away the heat,

Church Street was swelling with crowds and there was

little room to move near the Thakkiya. Thakkiya means “place of repose” in  Arabic and refers to a lodge or prayer house for Sufi Muslims.

The Alawyia Thakkiya, is the lodge of the Sufis belonging to the Alawiya network. The Fort has four other lodges that belong to different Sufi networks. The Alawyia Thakkiya is a pale green building at the corner of Church Street and Small Cross Street. Church Street is one of the main thoroughfares of the Fort; it divides the walled town lengthwise in half and has a network of small lanes branching off from it. As its name suggests, Church Street was once the Christian heart of the Fort and still contains the Dutch Reformed Church built in 1684, and the Anglican Church built by the British in 1871.

These churches are sparsely attended today, as the Burghers who once comprised the town’s majority Christian population collectively migrated out of the town and the island at large in the 1960s and 1970s. Today, Church Street is the main commercial street of the Fort and houses jewelry shops, designer stores, and boutique hotels in addition to the churches in its upper half.

The houses in the lower half of the street are almost entirely owned by Muslims. These houses, built wall-to-wall, with verandas opening out onto the street, extend in two long rows towards the sea-facing ramparts.

The Muslim presence is physically inscribed on the street by the green-colored Sufi lodges of the Shazuliya and Alawiya networks. On regular days, these buildings with their Islamicized colonial architecture blend inconspicuously into the streetscape.

On September 18th, however, the Alawiya Thakkiya stood out as focal point of the street’s activities.

At 1pm the prayers begin at the Thakkiya. The two prayer halls of the Thakkiya are already filled, an hour before, and people jostle to find a spot to stand on the crowded street.

Looking from where I stood, directly facing the Thakkiya, it seemed that this was an entirely male space. The front prayer hall was filled with men in white prayer caps. Crowding around a large area fanning out from the Thakkiya were men of all ages wearing shirts and trousers, tunics, shirts, and sarongs. Men not only filled the street, but also occupied the verandas of the jewelry shop next to the Thakkiya and all the Muslim houses immediately across from it. Further down the road, at the corner where Small Cross Street intersects Church Street, the gender composition of the crowd shifted.

A long line of women dressed in shalwar kameez and headscarves stood by the wall that stretched along Small Cross Street, facing the Thakkiya from its side.

Dressed in reds, oranges, greens, and blues with gold bangles, earrings, and chains, the women contrasted sharply with the men who stood in whites and browns just around the corner.

Like the men’s prayer hall in front, the women’s prayer hall at the side was full. Younger women—new brides—sat at the center surrounded by middle aged women and a ring of old ladies with their backs against the wall. The children and unmarried girls remained inside the living rooms of the adjacent houses, as I observed while passing by them. Just as the porches of the houses across from the Thakkiya were filled with men, the houses further down Church Street and all along this side street were filled with women.

As the Kanduri feast unfolded in space, the Fort’s colonial street plan—with its geometrical grid and systematic ordering of space into thoroughfares and side streets— became overlaid with a new set of spatial demarcations.

Residents needed to host all the attendees down one street block while adhering to the Islamic practice of spatially separating genders in the public sphere. Because the prayer halls had filled up, distinct blocks of men’s spaces and women’s spaces formed in Church Street and its side lanes.

Kanduri feasts are held in Sufi communities all along Sri Lanka’s coastline, but most Sufi lodges are built with ample space to host large crowds. If held in a Thakkiya outside the Fort, the feast’s activities would have been circumscribed within the boundaries of the religious space. But as the Fort’s Thakkiya is a refashioned colonial townhouse, and was never built to accommodate such crowds, people turned the streets into extensions of the prayer halls and the segregation of genders in the interior of the lodge became scaled up to encompass the public

street. For that afternoon, people temporarily recoded

Church Street’s existing spatial organization into a gendered spatial landscape segregated according to Islamic norms. This temporary reorganization of the Fort’s space into men’s and women’s spheres is not unique to the Kanduri feast.

Ten days prior to the feast, when Muslim residents made visits to their neighbors and relatives to celebrate Eid, men, women, and children took to the streets at different times of the day.

Soon after the morning prayers at the mosque, the Fort’s streets were filled with men visiting each other’s houses,

 and stopping to exchange Salaams. In the afternoons, children dressed in their best clothes and walked in groups, going from house to house to collect gifts and sweets from other Muslim families.

It was only in the night when the men went inside that married women and their unmarried daughters walked down the streets to drop into their relatives’ homes. While in most urban areas Muslim families leave together to visit family and friends for Eid, in the Fort women and children go on their own as they find it safe to walk unaccompanied by men within the walled city. Therefore, during course of the Eid celebrations, the Fort’s streets were filled at alternating intervals with groups of men, women or children. While the separation of men and women was temporal during Eid, and spatial during the Kanduri, they both illustrate a Fort Muslim practice of temporarily inflecting the town’s public spaces with their own codes of gender segregation.

As the prayers for the Kanduri ended, the food distribution began. The feasts’ food was stored down Small Cross Street in the men’s Zawiya of the Shazuliya Sufi network (A Zawiya is also a Sufi lodge or prayer hall. It serves the same function as the Thakkiya) Its prayer hall was filled with sawans, metal basins of food covered in banana leaves, and as I stopped by my friend Hamad told me, “There are 500 sawans here, and with six to a plate we could feed 3000.” As the prayers were coming to a close, a line of men—young children, old men, and teenagers with their slick haircuts concealed by prayer caps passed the basins of food from hand to hand between the two lodges.

Once the prayers concluded, people who were sitting inside the Thakkiya and standing on the streets made their way towards the houses in the lower half of Church Street.

Young boys wove through the crowd ferrying the sawans to the houses. Many Muslim residents told me earlier that it was a tradition of Muslim families down Church Street to contribute to the Kanduri by opening up their homes to the guests of the feast. They cleared out the furniture and laid mats down in their porches and living rooms for the participants to eat on. Some houses hosted men; some hosted women.

In others, men sat in the porches and women remained in the living rooms. In the house where I ate with my host family, there were five sahans (large dishes), with six people sitting around each. Larger homes had more. Walking around later, and chatting with friends about where they ate and whom they shared the food with, I realized that residents of this street block had collectively

hosted every Muslim family in the Fort, which constituted more than half of town’s population, as well as all the people who came from Colombo and the villages outlying Galle.

During the feast, Church Street’s capacity to hold people increased by three or four fold as people temporarily blurred the boundaries separating ritual, public, commercial and domestic spaces.

The Thakkiya’s ritual activities, carried out by bodies in prayer, spilled out onto the public street, filled the jewelry shop next door, and spread down the block along the front porches of the houses. Domestic space became remade into public or communal space for the duration of the feast as Church Street’s Muslim residents opened out their

verandas and living rooms for visitors from other parts of the Fort and from outside the town. As both Muslim residents in the Fort and those attending from outside told me, this way of hosting a Kanduri is particular to the Fort. The reasons for this are closely linked to the spatial arrangement of the townhouses and street:

People extended the feast’s activities from the Tkakkiya into the street and surrounding houses primarily in response to a lack of available space inside the Sufi lodge. Also, residents were able to host the feast’s crowd in the way that they did because the verandas, by their structure, already blur boundaries between the street and the home, and residents in their everyday lives treat the porch as an extension of the public sphere.

Yet these creative strategies that residents had devised to overcome the town’s particular limitations of space had,

 over time, become traditions that characterized Kanduris in the Fort and differentiated them from feasts elsewhere.”

“One of the best explanation of the cultural and ritualistic life style of the Muslim community of Galle Fort”.

Dairy King Ice Cream Parlour

“An Art Deco House of the British Era, anyone who would pass down the street would notice the Baby Pink and Blue Home made Ice Cream Shop. It’s a family business run by Shahnun Samsudeen and Tariq Nassim. The family home of the Samsudeen family four sisters.

It is believed that the house was originally a Horse Stable and thereafter during the British the present building was built as a recreational club for the British Mecenaries and Europeans. Many would have found its way to play a game

 of billiard or pool or even game of bridge. Thereafter it was purchased by PT Abdul Rahman before the house was bought over by the current family.”

Sea View

“The Sea View is located right at the corner of Church Street and Rampart Street. Observing the architectural features of the house, it would have been an Old Dutch Era Mansion House later modified during the British Era. Angelo Ephrums, AR Ephraum’s elder brother, who bought the NOH ran the premises as the Sea View Hotel (Norah Roberts). OLM Macan-Markar acquired the property in 1887. It is the ancestral house of the Macan-Markar’s. They were one of the most prominent moor families in Sri Lanka. I am the great-great-greatgrand son of OLM. Macan-Markar and Ameena Umma Aboobuker through my mothers side.

To keep my biases aside I shall be compiling the story of the Macan-Markar’s through previous written sources and family documents. Kumari Jayawardena in her book ‘Nobodies to Somebodies: the rise of the Colonial Bourgeoisie in Sri Lanka (2019)’ writes as follows; “it would be useful at this point to look at some of the commercially prominent Muslim families, particularly since their influence was later translated into the sphere of politics and social life of the Muslim bourgeoisie… …The source of important capital accumulation among southern Muslims was the gem trade and the largest profits were delivered by ‘middle-men, gem-cutting establishments and retailers’ (Roberts 1979:167).

The family of Naina-Markar was linked through marriage to the Macan-Markar, a family that rose to prominence and to a position of leadership in Muslim society through

 the gem retail trade. The founder of the Macan-Markar family business was Othuman Lebbe Macan-Markar of Galle, who started as a modest itinerant gem trader in Ratnapura and opened a jewellery shop in the Oriental Hotel in Galle in 1860. He moved to Colombo when it replaced Galle as the leading port, and in 1892, he acquired a shop in the Grand Oriental Hotel, a popular tourist hotel in Colombo, where he had a large clientele of foreigners including visiting royalty; he also exported cut and polished gems to Britain and was the owner of land in Ratnapura, the gem district in Sri Lanka. Macan-Markar married Amina Umma, daughter of Aboobuker Mudaliyar.

Their son O.L. Mohamed Macan-Markar (1877-1952), was educated at All Saints College, Galle, and Wesley College, Colombo, and joined teh family business.

He was immensely successful and diversified into both plantations and urban property. By 1927, he owned 731 acres of rubber and coconut land (Roberts 1979: Chapter IV, Table 2). He bought valuable land near Galle Face and put up the Galle Face Court, the first multi-storey apartment building in Colombo with apartments and ground floor shops. The gem company also moved into their own premises, the Macan-Markar building in the Fort.

 Mohamed Macan-Markar’s public life began early; in 1906, he became the Vice-Consul for Turkey and was made Consul in 1915. The Turkish connection gave local Muslims a sense of Muslim identity, and Macan-Markar, attired in fez hat and Turkish costumes, was presented to King Edward VII and was addressed in Turkish style effendi (Marikar 1979).”

 Asif Hussain in his book “Sarandib: An ethnological study of Muslims of Sri Lanka (2011)” states with regard to the Gem and Jewellery Business, the style of name and the religious feast conducted by the Macan-Markars, quoted below; “Many Moors no doubt made their fortune in the gem trade as well as in the related field of jewellery. Among the Moorish businesses mentioned in Twentieth Century Impressions of Ceylon (1907) we find a reference to OLM Macan-Markar which is said to be ‘the oldest established jewellery business in the island’, it having been founded at Galle in 1860 by Othman Lebbe Macan-Markar. He is said to have started as a gem-trader in a small way, buying and selling single stones (330)”

“The Macan-Markars of Galle were probably among the first to adopt surnames of the European type, for we learn

 that Oduma Lebbe Marikar Macan-Markar of Galle, a leading nineteenth century Moor entrepreneur who passed away in 1901 had four sons, namely, Mohamed Macan-Markar, Samsudeen Macan-Markar, Abdul Vadood Macan-Markar and Mohamed Saleh Macan-Markar, all surnamed Macan-Markar after the European manner, a tradition continued by the subsequent generations. The Magdon-Ismails also seem to have adopted their family name quite early on considering the several generations that have carried this surname (217).””

“…the annual Mawlud-un-Nabi ceremony at the Macan-Markar’s ancestral home ‘Sea View’ in Church Street, Galle Fort which is said to have been in existence for over a century. The celebration here consists of benedictions being pronounced on the Prophet followed by a lengthy duā in Arabic and Tamil and culminates with a sumptuous luncheon.

The function is attended by both men and women with the men seated upstairs and the women downstairs. Participants include members of the Macan-Markar family, family friends and residents of Galle Fort (181).”

“As stated by Marwaan Macan-Markar, Great Grandson of OLM Macan-Markar: ‘Celebrating OLMM.M Legacy: A jeweller from Galle Fort who made his family sparkle’ - Extracts from the booklet, “OLM Macan-Markar: inaugural Family Reunion: Celebrate Your Heritage, August 2018”) “O.L.M Macan-Markar died on July 4th 1901, at Sea View, the grand, spacious, Dutch Colonial-Era House that remains a land mark in Galle Fort.

By then he made a name as one of the country’s wealthiest gem merchants. There are many facets of his life, that of

his wife’s his children and their descendents’ that shine through. Some of these stories have been retold, have come down generations, spanning over 150 years. They are threads that bind our family’s unique history. They are a celebration of lively oral tradition that runs through decades. It is something to be proud of.

We sometimes get a chance to hear them at large family weddings, at small family gatherings and at the annual kandhuri. But some of these facets of the OLM Macan-Markar family’s achievements are worth illuminating.

hopefully, they will strike a chord with as many members of our large and expansive family tree, which has grown from its beginnings in the narrow, quiet streets of the Galle Fort to cosmopolitan capitals across many corners of the world…

…the Macan-Markar family life grounded in the world of Galle Fort. Among them was the rise of “Sea View” as the new home of the family. It was here that the family patriarch, despite being unschooled, welcome his growing list of European customers.

It was here that his sons and daughters grew up and stayed, including his youngest daughter, Haaseena Umma, till her death in 1975. Those who came before her and shared a childhood in the large, airy halls at “Sea View” were her sisters - - Fathumoothu, Nafeesa Umma, Sithy Safa, Khatheeja Umma, Razeena Umma and Shahana (died young and predeceased his parents), Mohamed,

Samsudeen, Abdul Vadood, Mohamed Cassim (who dies young but after his fathers death) and Mohamed Saleh.

And it was from here that a large retinue of family

members left on all-day picnics in bullock carts and, later, cars to idyllic spots by the banks of a river outside the Fort. They took with them kept short, that special picnic lunch and distinct Galle Muslim recipe, complete with rice and the accompanying 14 dishes, served on banana leaves.

It was also from the family Dutch-era mansion that religious tradition begun during OLM Macan-Markar’s times has continued for over 100 years - the annual kandhuri, a weekend on the eve of the annual Ramadan fast marked by faith, food and family. The annual gathering fo prayers and family reunion serves meals for nearly 600 people on the Sunday afternoon it is held.

 Those who attend have come to expect the special sweet - the muscat - that is served in palm sized portions at the end of the kandhuri’s biriyani lunch. It is a sweet produced

like so many other distinct sweets and spicy dishes by the females in the family, many of them, like the muscat, being made from recepes kept as family secrets and handed down from generation to generation. These recipes are part of the family lore for their origins, too. Most were inspired from the dishes that were prepared for the many Arab and South Asian visitors, including the Sheikhs of Mecca, who stayed for long stretches at “Sea View”.

Even today within the Galle Fort, rich with its muscat, enjoys a special status in the religious calendar of the Fort residents. At the heart of this religious facet was another central pillar of the family: the matriarch and the wife of OLM Macan-Markar, Aamina Umma.

Her surviving grandchildren relate stories of her charity

and piety, which combined to give their parents, her children, a religious foundation.

Its was out of this devotion that she made a mark in the annals of Islamic Education in the country, laying foundation to build Bahjathul Ibrahimiya Arabic College in 1892, a few doors away from “Sea View”. This islamic school opened its doors to Muslim students across the country to be tutored in theology, Arabic and Islamic principles. The family stepped in to cover the cost, ensuring free Tution, board and lodging for students from across the country who applied for a place. It meant that Ceylonese Muslims who aspired for a religious education had a domestic choice in the Galle Fort. Till then, the only route opened to them was a journey to India to attend an Islamic school in India’s southern states. Ever since, the students of the school have become a regular fixture at “Sea View” during prayers and religious events…”

Sir Mohamed Macan-Markar’s marriage to Lady Noor Naima was reported in “The Ceylon Independent, Monday, July 25, 1910” as a Fashionable Moorish Wedding “at home” Galle, Ceremony at “Muirburn”, Colombo: Mohamed - Marikar “The Marriage Mr. H.M Macan-Markar Effendi, Imperial Ottoman Consul to Ms. Noor Naima Naina-Marikar...

…The seconds of the two events of Saturday took place at “Sea View House”, the residence of teh bridegroom, when Mr. Samsideen Macan-Markar, brother of the bridegroom, held a brilliant reception to a large gathering of friends and well-wishers of the bridegroom, held a brilliant

reception to a large gathering of friends and well-wishers of the bridegroom. The entire length of Church Street was

illuminated with kits on lights, specially got down from

Colombo. The residence which is a very commodious one was beautifully got up, the numerous halls and rooms being well furnished, while the floors were spread with Turkish and Persian carpets. One of the chief attraction was the crystal bed, which is said to be the only one in the island, and which came in for considerable attention… …at 9.30 P.M, soon after the well furnished apartments were filled with the invited guests, who were treated to a brilliant display of fireworks there being four parties competing. A special bridge had been erected across the roadway from the house to the ramparts, where the marquee was run…”

The wedding reciprocates with a description of the Nostalgic memories of E.F.C. Ludowyk (16. 10. 1906, Galle - 1.06.1985, Colchester, England) in his book

 “Those Long Afternoons: Childhood in Colonial Ceylon”

 “Diversions in a different style, more spectacular and remote were provided by weddings between wealthy families in the moorish community. My brother and I were young enough, for a while, to accompany my mother to see the bride sitting in forlorn state, sometimes in what seemed to be canine of glass with brocade and crystal hangings. We gazed at her in awkward silence in the musk-laden atmosphere, hoot with the glare of lights. Then out we went, my mother to linger awhile in the reception room, while we were pressed by school mates in the reception room, perspiring in the unaccustomed finery of tweed suits to help ourselves at tables decorated with uncut pineapples and a medley of dishes. The occasion was too crowded and noisy for the collation offered.

 It was pleasanter to escape outside and join Granny and the ayah (maid) and sit overlooking the sea on the edge

the multitude waiting for the fireworks. The Police Band from Colombo played valiantly through the din to which it contributed, marches, overtures and musical snatches.

Then came the band of the rockets and flowers in red, yellow and blue broke into bloom, dropped and faded in the darkling sky to be followed by inumerable serpents of flame sizzling and gyrating in the heavens. For a moment both sea and sky were illuminated and then half-darkness returned and a collective sigh went up from the crowd. The band continued to play; God save the King blazed in lights. But the bridegroom had not as yet arrived. It was late enough and it was time for us to depart.” As said by Fauzulilla, Youngest Grand Daughter of OLMMacan-Markar; ‘Mrs.OLMM.M (Aamina Umma) - Extracts from the booklet, “OLM Macan-Markar: inaugural Family Reunion: Celebrate Your Heritage, August 2018”

“My paternal grand mother Aamina Umma, who I had never seen, unknowingly was a big presence in my life, and I believe in many of the other grand children’s lives too…

…She lost her most steadfast support, partner and confidante in her life when her dear husband Oduman Lebbe Marikkar Macan-Markar died in 1901. His absolute confidence in her ability and capabilities made him leave all his possessions not to his children, until the youngest reached the age of 25, but to his wife.

This made her in charge of the well-established firm OLMMacan-Markar, all the gems and jewellery in it, plus all his properties and all others that belonged to him.

The codicil that empowered her said she could sell or do

whatever she wished and nobody could question her on her decision. And when she finally handed over the family business to her sons, she gave the the important advice - not to be a guarantor nor to take loans. Her greatness can be judged by the way her husband looked up to her, by the confidence and trust he had in her - so many years ago when women were not even seen, leave alone being heard. Today they are fighting for empowerment of women more than a hundred years later…

…At one point in her life she was compelled to attend a court case regarding the rights to care for her 2 grand daughters Madaniya and Sithy, when they lost their mother. The fathers claim was dismissed and she was given the rights of keeping the children with her. The court case was held at Sea View as was in purdah, and the British Government decided to bring the court to Sea vIew, where the proceedings of the court took place officially…”

[courtesy Uzman Anver, Attorney at Law, Galle Fort]

The Macan Markar’s lived down Church Street but moved to Colombo mainly in order to pursue their gems and jewellery business. In the 70s there used to be an old lady called Haseenatha who lived in their family home.

 Haji Sir Mohamed Macan-Markar Effendi

Oduma Lebbe Marikar of Galle had three sons - Naina Marikar, Macan Markar and Haji Ahmad. Naina Marikar had many sons, the eldest of whom was Mohamed Ismail. He established a Gem & Jewellery business in his name, N.M.Ismail.

On his death, his three sons - Mahmood Ali, Mohamed Jameel and Mohamed Kassim (better known for his services as Honorary Secretary to the Ceylon Cricket Association for nearly a decade), changed the name of the business to M.Ali & Bros. and carried on a lucrative trade in the Victoria Arcade. They also assumed the ownership and management of  Watawala Tea Estate, near Hatton, in the Central Province. Haji Ahmed had an only son, Cabeer who passed away at a relatively young age while performing the Jumma Prayers at the Galle Fort Mosque.

Oduma Lebbe Marikar Macan Markar, the second son, established, in 1860, a jewelry business at Point de Galle by the name of O L M Macan Markar & Company Limited. It is the oldest business of this kind in Sri Lanka. The business flourished and was moved to Colombo when the port of call for ships was moved from galle harbor to Colombo harbour.

His establishment in Colombo commenced at No. 1, Grand Oriental Hotel Arcade, Fort, Colombo. With the increase of patronage he moved to a more prominent location of the Grand Oriental Hotel in 1905. He had, among his clients, several members of the British Royalty comprising, His Majesty King Edward VII (1875) as Prince of Wales and His Majesty King George V (1901) as the Duke of Cornwall and York. Amongst the British nobility, some of his customers were, the Duke of Manchester, the Duke of Sutherland, Earl of Aylesford, Earl of Ellesmore, and Lord Abercomby.

In 1901, His Majesty King George V, as the Duke of Cornwall and York and the Duke of Roxbury, visited the exhibition of gems specially displayed at the King’s Pavillion in Kandy and made purchases from Macan Markar and complimented the firm for their excellent collection of gems. The firm regularly exported precious stones to the London and Paris markets. The world famous Cat’s Eye, weighing 105 Carats, called the Blue Giant of the Orient, a Blue Sapphire weighing 225 carats and the Wonder Star of Asia, a Star Sapphire weighing 225 carats are in the possession of the firm. They also possess a rare collection of antique jewellery worn by Moor brides of the past.

OLM Macan Markar passed away on July 4, 1901.

The members of the firm who succeeded the founder were his four sons - Mohamed Macan MarkarSamsudeen Macan Markar, the most resourceful of them all in business, Abdul Vadood Macan Markar, steady and cautious in all his underatkings, and Mohamed Saleh Macan Markar, who passed away early in life in the year 1928 leaving behind a bequest of Rs. 50,000 for the establishment of the Saleh Macan Markar Muslim Educational Trust for the welfare of Muslim students.

The firm had, prior to 1942, branch offices at Shepherd’s Hotel, Continental Savoy, and Semiramis at Cairo and King David Hotel in Jerusalem.

Mohamed Macan Markar, fifth in a family of thirteen, was born at No. 47, Church Street, Fort, Galle on September 7, 1877. He was educated at Wesley College, Colombo (Pettah) and represented the College Cricket XI under the name of M.M.Mohamed, as he was then known at school. His contemporaries were, C.E.Pereira, who was the captain of the Cricket XI at Wesley, and S.P.Foenander, the worlds official cricket record keeper.

Mohamed made an unsuccessful attempt at passing the pre-medical examination before turning to business.

He was the Vice Consul for Turkey at Galle and later Consul for Turkey at Colombo during the period 1903 to 1915. He was also a member of the Galle Municipal Council, for twenty five years, during the period 1906 to 1931. later he was a member of the Colombo Municipal Council from 1940 to 1943. he also sat as a member of the Fez Committee and was the founder President of the All Ceylon Moor’s Association for and held that position for a number of years. He, subsequently, held the position of President of the All Ceylon Muslim League in 1945. He represented the Consulta eof Turkey in Ceylon. First Muslim Member for the All Island Seat at the Legislative Council. Senator 1947-1952. In addition, Mohamed was a registered member of the congregation of the Maradana Mosque. He was Knighted in 1938.

Ibrahimiya Arabic College at Galle was founded by his mother, Mrs. OLM Macan Markar, who left endowments for its maintenance. The institution is now being maintained by the firm.

Haji Mohamed Macan Markar, Effendi, as he was known then, married Noor Neima Naina-Marikar, the eldest daughter of SL Naina Marikar Hajiar, on July 2, 1910, at "Muirburn", Turret Road, Colombo.

When the Hijaz Railway connecting Makkah and Madinah was commenced in 1907, Ceylon Muslims presented, at the Grand Mosque, New Moor Street, an address of thanks to the Turkish Consul, Mohamed Macan Markar, for submission to the Sultan of Turkey. A photograph of those who attended this function is still available.

Mohamed Macan Markar performed the Hajj piligrimage, in 1906, together with his mother, Aamina Umma, daughter of Aboobucker Mudaliyar, his grandmother Pathumuthu, daughter of Mudaliyar Cassim Lebbe Marikar (Cassile Blanc), his maternal uncle, Avoo Lebbe Marikar and the two ikhwans. SLMH Abdul Wahab and HSM Izzadeen. 

Katheeb Izadeen, married Jameela Umma Cassim,

d/o of (Pulli Maan) Dheen Cassim & Muthu Natchiya.

He was the first Arabic teacher at Zahira College, Colombo and is buried at the Maradana Mosque premises, after Jumuah Prayers, as reqested by the late Hon TB Jayah, Principal. Katheeb Izzadeen & Jameela are also the parents of Izzathul Suada (one of the pioneer teachers at Muslim Ladies College, Colombo 4, under the leadership of the late Mrs Ayesha Rauff, and wife of MCM Thaha, oldest brother of Dr MCM Kaleel), Saadul Fuada (wife of Abul Hassan, the first appointed Mufthi in Ceylon), Shumsudeen (husband of Maba), Mymoon (wife of AHM Mahsoom), Masoona (wife of the late ARM Affan), Mohideen (bachelor) & Khadija (married to AHM Azhar of Galle).

They encountered a number of interesting adventures on their journey, including an encounter with a Bedouin tribe while crossing the Arabian desert on camel back, in a Caravan.

As Turkish Consul, he visited Istanbul together with his brother Abdul Vadood and thereafter Rome, Paris and London on business, in 1909. While in London, he was presented to His Majesty King Edward VII, at St. James’s Palace by Lord Crewe.

Mohamed Macan Markar took a keen interest in the promotion of Muslim education and subscribed Rs. 1,000 towards the construction of houses, alongside the New Olympia Theatre at Darley Road, in a project that was estimated to cost Rs. 12,750.

He, along with M.T.Akbar and several others, founded the Ceylon Muslim Educational Society Ltd., which established and managed the Hussainiya Boy’s School and Fathima Girl’s School. He realised the disability he suffered from insufficient education and endeavoured to provide his sons the best possible education available.

It was in his lavish bungalow, "Villa Stamboul", Galle Road, Colpetty, that the Muslim Ladies of Ceylon, gave an "Arabian Night" reception and presented an address paper to Lady Manning, wife of Governor, Sir Henry Manning, on October 5, 1921. The members of the reception committee were:-

Mrs. SL Naina Marikar, Mrs EGAdamaly, Mrs CM Meera Lebbe Marikar, Mrs MAC Mohamed, Mrs WM Abdul Rahman, Mrs SL Mahmood, Mrs AAM Saleem, Mrs MR Akbar, Mrs Ghouse Mohideen, Mrs HNH Jalaludeen and Mrs HM Macan Markar.

Mohamed Macan Markar was elected the first Mohammedan Member for the all island seat in the Legislative Council in 1924. He was subsequently elected member for the Batticaloa South electorate in the State Council from 1931 to 1936 defeating E.R. Thambimuthu, and thereby gave the Muslims of the Eastern Province a political consciousness. he was elected the Minister of Communication and Works and it was his deciding vote in the Board of Ministers that introduced Income Tax to Ceylon. He was Knighted in 1938. At a grand public reception given to him in his home town, Galle, he was the first Muslim to openly espouse the establishment of a Sinhala Government, provided that justice and fairplay amongst all te communities in the country was ensured. As a matter of fact, the pro-Sinhala attitude of the All Ceylon Moor’s Association, of which Sir Mohamed was the President, broke the back-bone of the pro-fifty-fifty group. Sir Mohamed’s successor in office, Sir Razik Fareed, carried on this policy with great gusto until the fifty-fifty cry was silenced.

Sir Mohamed was appointed a Senator in the first Parliament of Ceylon in 1947 and continued to remain so until his death, after a short illness, on May 10, 1952 (15 Sha’aban 1371H). His wife pre-deceased him. He confided that he had two sincere loyal friends who were true to him right up to the end. They were, Hon. WM Abdul Rahman and HNH Jalaludeen Hajiar.

Sir Mohamed made a bequest of Rs. 50,000 towards the construction of a Mosque in the University of Ceylon campus at Peradeniya. He also made substantial endowments towards Muslim female aducation and for post graduate studies for Muslim students.

His sons are, Ahmed Hussain Macan Markar, BA (Cantab), Bar-at-Law, MMC (former MP for Batticaloa); Alavi Ibrahim Macan Markar, MA (Cantab), FCA, Chartered Accountant and Dr Mohamed Ajward Macan Markar, MD (London), MRCP (england), Professor of Medicine, University of Ceylon, Peradeniya.

His daughters are, Noorul Kareema (wife of Ahamed Samsudeen Mohamed), Hibshir Hanem (wife of A.M.Aboobucker), Fathima Shoiba (wife of S.A.C.Ismail), Noorul Ameena (wife of Mohamed Alavi Macan Markar).

#57 Aboobucker Mudaliyar and his descendants, Habeeba (ILMM Cassim), Aamina (OLM Macan Markar), Juwaila Umma (Sultan Bawa Saheed), Sinne Lebbe Marikar (Pathumuthoo), Avoo Lebbe Marikar (ALM Habeeba Umma), Ayesha Umma (Yusuf Marikar), Abdul Careem (Katheja Umma Ismail), Cader Candu Natchia (M Ismail Naina Marikar), & Mohamed Cassim

Habeeba Natchiar Aboobucker & Ismail Lebbe Marikar Muhammad Cassim’s descendants are Abdul Rahim & Zubaida (Segu Abdul Cader), Mohamed Semsemi, Abdul Jaleel (Saeedathumma), & Mohideen (Fathuma Abdul Careem),

Zubaida & Abdul Rahim’s progeny are,

Ayesha Segu Abdul Cader who married  Packeer Mohideen

Zubaida Packeer Mohideen who married Abdullah Marikar  Mohamed

Dr Faizel Mohamed who married Sandya and whose children are Shazna & Saarah

Fazlene  Mohamed who married  M Marzook Sheriff and whose children are Shaheena Sheriff and Dr Asif Sheriff

Nazleen Mohamed who married Fazlul Cader and whose children are Shihana Cader & Sadiq Cader

Mohamed Packeer Mohideen who married Mashoora  Hussain  and whose childern  are Madarudeen  Mohamed & Mueena Mohamed

Junooda Packeer Mohideen who married A.M.M Thassim and whose children are Yasri Thassim & Yusri Thassim

Packeer Mohideen who married M.H.M Saheed and whose children are Nooriya Saheed  & Aroosi Saheed

A Jiffry Packeer  Mohideen

   Zubaida Packeer Mohideen            Abdullah Marikar Mohamed


 AMM Thassim 8/8/1908-1/9/1974

Semsemi & Zeenaths progeny are,

Flyle Hussain (Elfreida)

Ruzly Hussain (Feroza Marikar-Bawa)

Shoiba Mashoor (Dr Saud Hameed)

Rezana Mashoor (Dr Fahmy Ismail) 

Abdul Jaleel & Saeedathumma Cassim Sultan Bawa’s progeny are,

Ms Raina Jaleel (Fahmy Cader)

Ms Raisa Jaleel (Imthiaz Cader)

Ms Salva Jaleel (Firzad Hussain Caffoor)

Ms Zeida Jaleel (Althaf Hussain Caffoor)

Bari Jaleel (Renuza Hasheem)

Ghazi Careem (Shenaz Abdullah Markar)

Ms Rinza Careem (Farin Careem)

Ms Rinoza Careem (SMA Shabdeen)

Mohideen & Fathuma Abdul Careem’s progeny are,

Muayyad Cader (Masserath), Mohideen (Fathuma Abdul Careem), Muannad Cader (Maria)

Ms Muneefa (Muayyad Idroos), Shaheen, Sameera, Shamila

Fasilet Cassim (Abdul Careem Shums)

Masheviat Cassim, Zareef Cassim, Sarmiya Cassim, Akram Cassim

NN=Lovi Udu - Magdon-Ismail, Ms Ain Magdon-Ismail, and children Fareena, Nishreen, & Rizli

Alavi Ismail, wife Sithy, and children Firdhouse, Salma, Jiffry, & Mohideen

NN=Turkey - Mashoor, wife Jisthiya, brothers in law Dr Saud Hameed, Mohideen, and son Jazry

Pookaka’s Thakkiya

Saather House, Haleema Khaija, Sonny, & Noori

ILM House, Hibshiya, Haleema, Huzaima, Faalila, Nilam, & Haameem

Mansoor Marikkar, Baraka, Shakira, Zacky, Nasser, Saina, & Zaabith

Deen, Ms Nilama Deen, Rikza, & Rifdy

NN=Major - Hussain, sister Fathuma, Ahamed, Shaffy, children Zain, Sithy, Noor, Safiya, & Vaheeda

Ms Sithy Rahima, Hafeel NN=Maama Kaaka Udu, daughter Rabah & ZOHARI

Ismail, Ms Sarjeen Ismail, & Shaadiya

Ms Sakkaf – Sithy Zaahira, Nasiha, Jasiya, Aroos, (UK) Ismail, Fairooz, & Ismeth

NN=Chinthamani/Kolashikka Udu - Zanooha, & SHAMLA

Ibrahim, Nusky, & Rila

Naima Datha, Shafeek, Farook, Rafeek, Thowfeek, Ameen, Inaya, & Raazik

Aaminatha, Khaija, Hanoon, Ahamed, & Nasreen

Hussain, Sainoon, Nafeesa, Sithy Aisha, Rafeeka, Fahari, & Faizal

NN=Sheenana Udu - Sithy (NN=Chicholi), Fareesa, Rameeza, Aroosiyah, Saadiqa, & Jiffry

Wijedoru, CTB Manager, Galle

Jiffry Thakkiya

Ms Seniya Noordeen

Mr & Mrs Markar, son Rizly (NN=Tom), Shina, & LAILA

Ibrahim & Ameena, children Ahamed Areeza, & Areez

Abdul Hassan Hajiar & Ain, children KHYR, Fathuma, (Hamza), Kayes (Zeenath), and grand children Uzby, Ubaid, & Sithy Fathuma

Ismail & Ain, children Mubarak, FAHUMIYA, Kamariya (Thaha), grand child Hazeema

Mohamed & Zubaida, children Fazlyn and Fathuma

Sooda, Junooda, Jiffry

Mr & Mrs Bultjens, children Aubrey, Cheryl, & Errol

HS Hussain, Saniya, Hurlyn, Jasmiya, Sa’ad, Sahal, Shaanaz, & Rukiya

Jasmine Cottage, Mariam, Haleema, & Sainoon

Makan’s House – Haseena Datha

ABM Shafeek (ex Ahadiya Sunday School Teacher and his wife Zainab Rahman

Effendi Rahman & Haleema Cassim, children Zainab (Shafeek), Fathuma Asma (Naufal), Rehana (Nimal), Shereela (Dr Malik Deen, USA), Fareena (Farook), Ifthikhar (Shainza), & Rahila (Imtiaz) lived down this street. Subsequently, they moved to Hultsdorf as the children were attending Colombo schools (SPM) and then to Mount Lavinia.

Ms Kamariya Thaha

Ms Nafeesa Mubarak

Ms Safiya Shahul Hameed

Ms Sithy Rahima Hafeel

ABM Ameen (younger brother of Shafeek)

Thariq Nasim


Fareed Ibrahim


Zain Shaffy


Shafy Hajiar

Safa Ibrahim

Na’aman Hajiar taught the reading of Qur’an to the children in the Fort in the 60s. He had a small facility referred to as a “Palli Koodam” (class room) adjacent to the Bultjen’s home. The kids who were able to read the Qur’an fluently were also taught Tamil language, Book 1&2, as a special bonus. He also composed short songs in Arabic-Tamil for all significant religious occasions including whenever special dignitaries visited the Fort.

The youngsters in the Fort, in the 60s, started the first Sunday School for children at the Arabic College. A group of them, including the brother of Fathima Hanim, the late A.H.M. Mahroof  (Fort Printers and presently GMA printers) also started the “Galle Muslim Cultural Association” and organized annual competitions for Qu’ran recital, Oratory, Calligraphy, Azan with many valuable prizes offered to the winners. 

Fathima Hanim says, “When we were kids, every house had a wooden board in the shape of a tablet (see pix below). It was whitewashed and the ink was made of roasted rice. A pen shaped from a bamboo was used to write on the board.The kids took the board, ink, and pen to Na’man Haji’s “Palli Koodam”and were only allowed to start books once they had mastered the alphabets. Sometimes, we went to our neighbor, Adam Hajiar’s, with the board for lessons.Many adults taught their kids at home and this board is still preserved in many Galle Fort homes”

She also identifies the following families who used to live in communion in the 60s who are still resident in the same house in the Fort.

Sithy Raheema Hafeel and daughter Rabah Ameen, Shafeeks sister in law

Ms Safiya and husband Shahul Hameed

Ms Nafeesa Mubarak

Ms Nasreen and her uncle Ahamed

The late Nadha Shamsudeen’s children, Shahriya, her 3 daughters (Afreen, Afrah and Ashrath), MASHOORA, Shahnun, husband Thaariq and their children (son Makki, twins Thahseen & Thahneez, and Mariam)

Ms Kamariya Thaha and her daughters Hirza, Sithy Khaija and grand children

The Dutch Reformed Church

Dutch Reformed Church


All Saints' Church is an Anglican church located within the Galle fort in GalleSri Lanka and is located on Church Road.

The decision to build an Anglican church at Galle, was initiated by the first Bishop of Colombo, Rt. Rev. James Chapman. The foundation of the church was laid on 30 October 1868, by Rev. Dr. Piers Calveley Claughton, the second Bishop of Colombo. The construction of the church was facilitated by a grant of the land and £600 from the 13th Governor of Ceylon, Sir Hercules Robinson. A further £1,000 contribution was received from an English parish. The Church was designed by J.G. Smithers, the government architect, who later designed the National Museum of Colombo. The Church was constructed on the site of a former Court House (1780s). The gallows it is said stood on the site of the present altar. The Anglican congregation in Galle which, up to then, worshipped in the Dutch Church. The church was consecrated on 21 February 1871 by Bishop Claughton, assisted by the church's first vicar, Rev. Dr. George Justus Schrader (1829-1875).

In recognition of Rev. Dr. Schrader's significant contribution to the Church, a large bell was placed in his memory in the centre dome of the Church in 1876. In the mid 1960s, for security reasons the bell was lowered and was left to be sold. It was subsequently bought by the diocese and is now housed in the Cathedral of Christ the Living Saviour in Colombo. The current bell was acquired by the Church in 1968. The bell came from the Liberty Ship, "Ocean Verity", and was donated by the Clan Line Steamship Company.


Church Cross Street

This street starts at the now defunct post office and leads up to Lighthouse Street, where the Telecommunication  office is situated.

Mr Laafat (Dr. Ansari Hassen’s brother) and his wife Zaima, mother-in-law, brother-in-law Fazlul and daughter Faheema (now Dr. Faheema Saheed).

Lighthouse Street

The Galle Gymkhana Club founded in 1885 which was later renamed to Galle Gymkhana  Lawn Tennis Club (GGLTC). The Club conducted a very popular sweep and annual horse racing meet at Boosa outside the Fort. The location has now been converted into a children’s playground, opened by the Lions Club of Galle and named after Mahendran Amarasooriya, Chairman of Commercial Bank and Director of several corporate organizations, and son of a very famous Buddhist philanthropist, Senator Thomas Amarasooriya of Unawatunne in Galle

Southlands College, All Sainst College, St Joseph’s Chapel, the Methodist Church, the Old Dutch House, YMBA, “Beach Haven”, the residence of the former Deputy Mayor of Galle, Ms ND Wijeyanayake, Thomas Galle International School, The Muslim Ladies Religious Center (Ummul Fukhura), and the Tea Small Holdings Authority, are also located down this street. The Maldivians who visited galle for trade lived at the house “Ocean View” located at No 80.

Some of the people who lived here are,

Hamza Hajiar & Shireen

Fatheela Datha. BALKEES, Kaizer, Frouze (Zeeniya Hashim), Fouze (Naaz Sulaiman from the WM Hassim family in Colombo).

PT Abdul Rahman & family. Yasmin (USA), Cassim, Sheriff, Naufal (decd 2021). The family moved to Wellawatte and lived down Frederika Road.

Yasmin married Azad and has moved to USA.

Cassim (Bunchy) is married to Sachetha

Naufal married Fathuma (Asma) Rahman also from Church Street in Galle Fort. Their children are Rashid (USA) and Ayesha (Reza Rafiq). Naufals mum is a descendant of the Magdoom family of Galle Fort.

Dr Adly Mohamed & Sithy Rahima. Sifla, Ain Datha

Asmi Mohamed married Fathima Naima Naina-Marikar from Wellawatte, children Ayad & Akmal

Proctor Azeez

Jisthy Careem, who led and played with the band, “Rhythm Knights” in the 60s, also lived down, at the end of, Lighthouse Street where the entrance of the house faces Rampart Street. Jisthy has now migrated to Australia. 

Jisthy Careem (Australia)

His father, Haji Careem, owned and managed the Eastern Gem Company on Mody Road, in Kowloon, Hong Kong. The business was very successful as it was located in the golden mile district of Kowloon, within a stones throw of the top most 5 star/6 star hotels in the city.

Many celebrities including members of the Beatles and Nat King Cole (his father did not know who they were) visited his shop. Hooriya is a sister of Jisthy.

                                            Hooriya Careem

Rhythm Knights

Rhythm Knights

International music star Disti Meerac (Jisthy Careem) now living in Sydney, Australia has recorded three songs loved by Vernon Corea (the legendary Sri Lankan broadcaster) as a tribute to him. Disti was a member of the well known group ‘Rhythm Knights’ and he sang on the Sri Lanka circuit with all the stars including Cliff Foenander. Vernon has introduced the Rhythm Knights on so many stages around the island when he compered the top shows. He was a leading compere at the time in the 1960s. Disti knew Vernon Corea so well. The three songs were – Nobody Knows The Trouble I’ve Seen, Blue Moon and Know Other Love. Vernon has also sung the first two songs with his brother Ernest Corea in a duet in Maha Nuge Gardens. Both brothers had very good voices and were always singing together.

Disti also relates the stories behind the songs in his tribute to Vernon Corea posted on the social media site, Facebook.

‘When Ivan, Vernon’s son related a very short story to me..I almost felt the presence of this charismatic personality VERNON COREA …a legend of RADIO CEYLON..

There are three songs tied to this bit I have to say to you.. 




One of Vernon’s Radio Ceylon colleagues was getting married and he mentioned that he wished he could have had a set of musicians at his wedding reception… but could not afford it…So Vernon got together some musicians friends..and his son Ivan carried his ‘recorder’ and Ivan played it , Vernon sat at the piano..and the music played on…just like a fairy tale…………..

The Groom did not have to pay of course, and so the true personality, the sparkling, magnanimous personality of VERNON COREA was on show………. He went out made a recording for his wife Monica, these were the days of 78 rpm and gramaphones…yeah he sang this for her. NO OTHER LOVE was derived from CHOPIN’s etude and the famous JO STAFFORD sang this beautiful song…Today , I dedicate this in memory of a friend of mine and a friend of RHYTHM KINIGHTS… Pardon me, for any shortcomings on my part,,, on these three song I have sung here — at SYDNEY.’

Posted on the Radio Ceylon Facebook Group Page.


Others who lived down Lighthouse Street are,

Kabeer Hajiar, Khamseen Datha, Sithy Khadija, Durriya, Haleema, Khaija, Inaya, ROWLEY & BASHEERA

Dr Austin Perera & family. Daughter Anoma

Cader and Nafeesa, their children Fouqiya (Mohideen – Dr. Saud’s brother), Fareeza (Abul – HH’s brother) and Sithy Fathuma (Fazlani), Mohideen and Shamsadeen

Hassan family (NN=Sunlight House), Zohariya & Ajward. AASIYA, MARIAM & RAISA 

Bary, Arafa Datha, Ruwaisa, Raisa, & Ramali

Khairiya Deen, Sithy, & Mohamed

Alma Umma Datha (NN=Baboodu) & Abdul Rahman 

Noorul Ain, Jiffry, Rehana, Faiza, Fahumiya, & Jamaldeen

Ibrahim Hajiar & Mubeena family. Children Fareed, Athifa, Sithy Faseena, Authad Haji (Faiza), Zakiya, Rauf, Aroos, Madeefia Rauf Aroos, & Shafi. NN=ElGuli Udu 

Cecil V Wickremanayake – says From Mahamodera, we moved into the Galle Fort to an enormous house in Lighthouse Street. The house was once a hotel in the days when ships called at Galle. Its rooms upstairs were numerous and its hall enormous. So big that Dad often played host to those holding meetings there, like the newly formed Suriya-mal campaign.

Frequent visitors were Bevis Bawa, a close friend of Uncle Guy, Wijayananda Dahanayake, a teacher, Jimmy de Livera, an Excise Inspector, Edgar Ephraums a businessman - the father of the lovely Sylvia who a few years later became the pulse of my heart when we studied together at Richmond College.

There were also the Abeywickramas and the Amarasuriyas, Rick Abeywardena, who we called "Lower Bar Uncle Eric" to distinguish him from Dad’s elder brother Eric. Around the time of the Suriya Mal Campaign, another visitor was Dicky Jayewardene, who had just returned from England.

Thaha Cassim and Family

Wijenayake Family

Albert Family NN=KiriAlbert - because he owned a large herd of cattle

Sultan Marikar family and daughter Yasreen

Jiffry Careem, Naima, Fahari, & Ferin

The Ladies Zavia

Proctor Saheed, Fowziya, Faariha, Naval, & ZAMEENA

Ms Madaniya Ismail, Rias, Shibly, Haniya, Raaniya, & Seema

Kuhafa – Sithy Fathima, Zainab, Affan, Ashraf, Rakeeba, Sithy Zuhri, & Azri

Ex Mayor Wahab, (former High Commissioner to Ghana and First Muslim Mayor of Galle), wife Saadiya & family. Children Za’faran, Ni’math, Minna, & Ahmed

Ms Nafasiya Cassim

Sultan Marikkar

Ms Fathuma Hamza

Ms Raqeeba

Ms Zainab Kuhafa

Abdullah Kuhafa (Australia)

Sithy Deen (Australia)

#41 Hussain Baba, now in South Africa says, “While we were away in Hongkong, my maternal grandmother

Mrs. Hashim Farsi, aunty Faasiya and her children including Mohamed Thowfeek used to stay at my parents house. 

As stated by Fathima Hanim, some of the families still living down Lighhouse street since the 60s are,

Bary Mohamed, his wife and one daughter

Ms Nafasiya Cassim

The late Mr Wijenayake’s daughter, Shiromi, son in law and grandkids

Ms Fathuma (widow of the late Hamza, my moms youngest brother), her daughter Raajiha (Risham), and their three children

Ms Zainab Kuhafa, her husband, and three children

Ms Raqeeba, three daughters,sons in law and grandchildren

Parawa Street

The narrow Parawa Street branches off from Chando Street and leads up to Temple Road where a new tourist hotel has been constructed.

The Zaviya of the Shasuli Order is located here.

Careem family whose children are Shafeek and Khaija

Rasheed family and daughter Mashooda

Zaglul Wadood, Sa’ada, Zain Rifa

Mashoor (NN=Turkey), wife Nazali and children Zeenath & Rebab

Ismail (NN=Lipton House) family, Nawaz, Zameela, Hurriya, Mansoor, Rumy & HIBSHIYA

Ahamed Faleel (NN=Badr Udu) family and children Zulfiya, Infiya, Safwan, & Zanhar

Zameela Ismail

Ms Gunewardene

Fathima Hanim states that some of the people still living down this street, since the 60s are,

Ms Zain Rifa’s daughter, son in law and grandchildren

Ms Zameela Hussain, son, daughter in law and grandkids

Mr & Mrs Gunawardene and their daughter

Chando Street

Faasy Marikar & Girly, children Laila, Reema & Shaamil.

Razeema Fassy

ARHM Salie – House Nizam Hajiar & Nasiya.

Children Nadia, Ninzer, Naseer, & Nilar. Grandma Sithy

Qunoora Datha and children Fathuma & Fowse

Hussaini, Hussaina, Rizna, Rizani & Ismail

Athas family, Isma, Jiffriya, & Miskiya

Gomez family and children Valerie & Gordon

According to Ms Fathima Hanim, some of the people still living down this street, since the 60s are,

Mrs Razeema Rauf, daughter, son in law, and grandchildren 

Great Modera Bay Street


 Middle Street

Professor Michael Roberts lived at #38

Ismail and Fathuma who lived at #40. Ismail was a jeweller.

Children are Faika, Shimla, & Kamil, all born at Lighthouse Street.

Shimla is married to Dr Firazath Hussain from Charlemont Road in Wellawatte, who spent many decades working in the Sultanate of Oman and is now back home to roost, after retirement.

They live down Fredericka Road in Wellawatte. They have two sons, settled in the USA. The older son, Ahmed Saddam Hussain, did a double major in Computer engineering and Business administration and subsequently his MBA. He is currently working as a Director to a 6 billion dollar defence contractor ATK. He is married to Chen Xinghua from China, Xinghua has a CPA and a MBA, She is a financial manager for Walt Disney. They have a son, Deen Kamal Hussain, born in 2009.

The second son, Mohamed Talal Hussain, did his first degree at UCLA , and then his law at Loyola law school. He is currently a practising lawyer in the USA.

Naasim & Riasa family. Children Thaariq, Thaahir, & fatheen. Riasa’s mum Alavia also lives with them.

Jawad family and son Kismet

Dr Nanayakkara, consultant cardio specialist, his sister and two nieces.

Faika Junaid

Riasa Nasim

Fatheen Anver

Jasiya Haseen

New Oriental Bakery, where crisp bread was sold

Ms Fathima Hanim states about the people who have been living here since the 60s, as,

Ms Faika Junaid

Ms Riasa Naasim, daughter Fatheen (Nasser Anver), children Uzman (Attorney at Law), Ahla, & Aslam

Rampart Street

Rampart Street commences from the Grand Jummah Mosque, in front of the Lighthouse,

Rauff Aroos Hajiar, Madeejia Rauf Aroos (now resident down Hospital Street from Small Cross Street).

On the ramparts, opposte the bastions, there are old judges residences, which are now the Gemunu Regiment Bastion. 

Sithy Khadeeja Mohamed, co-owner /manager Ameen Hotel

Ms Fathima Hanim states that there are people living down this street since the 60s of whom some are,

Mr & Mrs Rauf Aroos (Jisthi Careems house which was previously known as “Pakisthan Udu”, their son Hazik and daughter in law Imaza

Small Cross Street

Hannan & Hafsa family. Children Fathuma, Saina, Zameela, Nuwaisa, Ahamed, Ismaeel, Ilyas, Mubarak & Haleem

Kaathima Datha – Children Rameeza, Firdowsiya, Fathuma, Hanbal, Nilamdeen & Zaabith

NN=Hazrath Udu, Fathuma Zohara, Thaha, Vazeera, Mukthar. Children Madeeha, Issath, Ismeth, Fareesa, Sadeeka (married to Muheeth) whose children are Nazmi & Niyas

Azeeza, Zaima, Fathuma Jiffriya, & FATHUMA

Nauman family, daughter Azra.

Cassim family. Children Aakila, Hassen & Iqbaal

David Aiya’s vegetable stall and small corner store

Ms Firdousiya Nilamdeen

Firewood store 

Sri Sudharmalaya Temple

Ms Fathima Hanim speaks about the people living here since the 60s,

Ms Firdowsiya and husband Nilamdeen

New Lane I

Some of the people living down this street since the 60s, according to Ms Fathima Hanim, are,

Ms Aroosiya Miskin, daughter Sumaiha, son in law Liyaudeen, and her three grandkids”

Mr Siripala and his wife Kanthi

Sandanam, Podi Haamy and their children Siripala, Pema and Lalitha. Siripala continues to live in his house. His father Sandanam owned a Rickshaw that many in Fort used to hire for transport purposes.

Aasiyaththa, Jamaldeen and their children, Aisha, Fathuma, Sithy Noor.

Sainambu Datha, Miskin Nana and their children Aroosiya, Ahmed Hussain and Moma Ghani. 

First Cross Street

Siripala and family

Aasiyatha, Jamaldeen, Aisha, Fathuma, Sithy, Noor, & Muhiyadeen

New Lane II

Mudassar Mohideen

Ms Nasreen


Firewood store 


Good old days of the Galle Fort: Golden memories

by Faiza Thassim, 2012 (resident in Maryland, USA now)

Tucked away in the southwest corner of Sri Lanka’s coastline, away from the hustle and bustle of the busy town of Galle lies the quaint old peninsula that is the Galle Fort. Originally built by the Portuguese and then modified by the Dutch in the 17th century, this little enclave shot to fame after it was declared a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO in 1988.

Although the maintenance of this little city is funded by the government of Netherlands, the Galle Heritage Foundation that claims it to be insufficient says parts of the Fort will now be leased out to commercial establishments to bridge the deficit.

Until very recent times the Galle Fort was home to a multi-ethnic predominantly Muslim Sri Lankan community that boasted of a laid back but productive lifestyle in a comfort zone rich in its very own “Galle Fort” tradition and culture that only its residents knew and revelled in.


Huraiz Magdon Ismail, a former senior member of the Galle Fort community now living in Colombo owing to practical reasons, reminisced with the Daily Mirror about ‘the good old days” in his beloved home town. Born (in 1934) and bred in the Fort, he recalls that life was extremely leisurely and peaceful in those days, the majority community Muslims along with the Sinhalese, Tamils and Burghers living in harmony as one brotherhood. Mr. Magdon Ismail claims it was his grandfather’s family originally from Magalle that was the first Muslim family to settle in the Galle Fort somewhere in the early 1800s.

“It was then home to the Dutch Burghers, a fortified and garrisoned place,” he said. “But my grandfather somehow or the other got permission to come and settle therein with his family and set up home in Small Cross Street. In those days all significant family homes had nicknames and ours was called ‘Bumbleoodu” (Bumble House).

”However, this was disputed by the late Kays Hassen who claimed it was his Muslim ancestors that first stepped into the Fort, but Norah Roberts a long-time Librarian of the Galle Public Library and Galle Fort historian confirmed it was the Magdon Ismail family,” he said.

Since its new-found exposure the market value of properties went up, there was a demand by foreigners to buy property therein and that way the people benefited, Magdon Ismail said. “I too benefited in a way.

My two sons were working in Colombo, and I had the opportunity of selling my house in the Fort in 2007 for an unexpected price, managed to purchase twin houses in Mt. Lavinia and also a little house back again in Small Cross Street, Fort for practical plus nostalgic reasons,” he said.

Commenting on the present face of the Fort he said most of the house verandahs were now eateries and showrooms selling jewellery, antiques and other items to attract foreign tourists.

“In those days, almost all front doors were kept open throughout the day and evening. Anyone could walk in with a pleasantly resonant greeting, share a cup of tea with the latest gossip and walk out with a long-lingering smile. But now, most houses were closed up and it was lonely and deserted in the evenings,” his wife Ms Rashada chimed in.

Sulmy Magdon Ismail, their son was of the view that had there been more job opportunities closer to home, people would not have had to move out to Colombo where anyone and everyone who wanted to make something of their lives eventually went. “The Galle Fort was not an income generator. Anyone can walk in and drink of its historical and aesthetic essence free of charge. With the new trend, although some ‘hit the jackpot’ so to speak, some others regret having sold their houses as now, even if they gave it out on rent they would be up on the deal, as the commercial value of the properties is very high,” he said.


Ziqufi Ismail, (no relation to Magdon Ismail) also a much integrated ‘son’ of the Fort said his boyhood years there were the most cherished time of his life.

“The moulding we received living in that multi ethnic environment, loving each and every human being irrespective of cast, religion or race is what I am made of today. My parents moved out to Colombo for the sake of their children’s education but I used to crave to run down to Galle on Fridays to be amongst extended family in our sprawling family home that was nicknamed “Saappoodu,” (Saappu House) he said.

“I was among a bunch of friends known and somewhat ‘feared’ for the boyish mischief we created in the neighbourhood putting the likes of Tom Sawyer to shame, and we took pleasure in the widely repeated expression that no father would give his daughter in marriage to one of us, but fortunately I was blessed with my life partner from my beloved city of the Galle Fort.”

Memories could be recalled and written till a million pens ran dry, Mr. Ismail said. “We may fly all over the world, but, we can never forget our nest. The Fort has been an example to the entire island where the Muslims and Sinhalese lived peacefully side by side. Most of us went to schools where ethnic groups were mixed. Practically every evening the Pereras, Ramanayakes, Ludowikes, Mohameds and Ismails among others all played together on the ramparts, he recalled.

Contemplating the recent developments Ismail said some of its advantages were that there was much aid coming from the Dutch Government to maintain this World Heritage Site. It had become a much sought after city for holiday bungalow investments which had in return solved the financial problems of many residents who sold their properties at unbelievable prices.

It had developed as a ‘must stop’ tourist destination for high spending locals and foreign tourists. Residents who had rented out their premises for businesses as well as for accommodation were earning substantial incomes and weekends saw an influx of tourists flowing through the streets.

Among the disadvantages he thought was the influence of foreign entities in the social and cultural lifestyle. In an otherwise conservative setting, their free lifestyle, minimalistic dress code, open same-sex relationships, public consumption of alcohol etc. had caused some uneasiness among the families who opted to stay back in the Fort.

However, Mr. Ismail acknowledged it was important to uphold and safeguard the religious and cultural traditions of all communities and strike a balance by coping with inevitable change, where they could still believe it was the best city in the world to live and visit.


24-year-old Ashkar Ahamed, a British real estate agent now resident in the Galle Fort, who was enchanted by the natural beauty of Sri Lanka during his initial visit to the island in 2010 went to the extent of resigning from his IT job in the United Kingdom o make his home in Sri Lanka.

He affirmed he was fortuitous in the time of his arrival to Sri Lanka as the country had recently come out of the twenty-six year civil war in May 2009 and was only just rebuilding its economy, so there were a number of business opportunities.

“My professional background was in real estate and internet marketing. I put both disciplines to good use when I returned to Sri Lanka in May 2011, to live here full-time, by starting a real estate agency.

Commenting on the high demand for property in the Fort, he explained, “Real estate prices in the Galle Fort attract a premium compared to most parts of Sri Lanka due to the limited supply of property and their significant commercial potential. There are only approximately four hundred houses in the Fort with practically no bare land available to construct additional houses,” he said, adding that the demand for property in the Fort was high from both foreigners and Sri Lankans alike.

Mr. Ahamed further anticipated that with tourist arrivals due to nearly treble to 2.5M in 2016, there would be a steady stream of foreigners keen to buy property in the Galle Fort which would keep the level of demand high for the foreseeable future. The demand itself stemmed from that fact that property in the Fort had great commercial potential. For example, he said if you were to renovate a property of nine perches or more to a high standard in a colonial style complete with swimming pool then you would have no problem renting it to tourists for 65,000 LKR per night with an occupancy rate of at least 50%.

Additionally, if you were to open a good quality restaurant, shop, hotel, or guesthouse which catered to the tourist market then you would be doing stellar business from day one of opening.

Presently, Mr. Ahamed said out of about 400 houses, approximately 45 (11.25%) are under foreign ownership. Foreign buyers tend to be American, Australian, and British. Most are high-net-worth individuals living in Singapore or Hong Kong working for major global banks. Sri Lanka’s proximity to Singapore and Hong Kong, with cheap regular flights, makes it a popular holiday destination for them. Typically, even after just one or two visits a foreign buyer is captivated by the Galle Fort and buys a property here which they would then renovate over a twelve to eighteen month period into a Colonial style villa.

They would then use the property as a holiday home as well as enjoying healthy rental income and capital appreciation.

Mr. Ahamed stated his biggest concern was that illegal construction work which resulted in the destruction of colonial architecture was still going on with no action taken by the relevant authorities. Although the number of instances of illegal construction had decreased dramatically it still prevailed and threatened to spoil the beautiful environment of the Galle Fort. 


Aunty Fathuma of Galle – Daily News Feb 17, 2003


Professor Muhammad Uvais Sideek Sultan Bawa

courtesy: Daily Mirror

Professor Muhammad Uvais Sideek Sultan Bawa known at St.Aloysius' College just as "Bawa".A son of Ruhuna, born and bred in Galle, Sultanbawa showed hos scholarship and promise in his early days at St Aloysious’ College, Galle.

He entered the University of Ceylon and while progressing towards his degree in Chemistry, cruel fate downed him with sickness just before his final examination. Undeterred by this, a characteristic courage which he was to display on many occasions in later life too, Sultanbawa took the London University Examination and netted a First Class Degree. He joined the then Industrial Research Lasboratory established by D.H. Balfour and for a time served as one of the “Balfour boys”.

His preference for academic life soon brought him to the Department of Chemistry of the University of Ceylon. He went to the Imperial College London for his PhD and worked for Professors E A Braude and L N Owen. He returned to his native land in 1945. A batch of young chemistry (special) students, did not take too kindly at first to the new lecturer in the blue suit, who at that time failed to appreciate his new approach to chemistry teaching, with the accent on literature reading. It may even be stated that he was not the best of communicators. However, his great enthusiasm for the subject did rub off on some. He laid the foundation for a research-based university course and encouraged the investigative mentality in students.

Sultanbawa launched himself into the work of the Chemistry Society of Ceylon, now the Institute of Chemistry, and the Ceylon Association for the Advancement of Science, later the SLAA, as its General Secretary. He enthused students at that time and many of them assisted him and his good friend and colleague the late Professor Stanley Wijesundera and his research partner Jinapala Alles, in the organization of a series of islandwide school science exhibitions under the wing of the CAAS. Sultanbawa’s interaction with the chemistry students of the time in this endeavor brought out the best in him.

Professor Eric Fonseka, the then head of the Chemistry department following the death of Professor Kandiah, left the organization and moved to Peradeniya with Sultanbawa. Indeed, this writer feels strongly that the University of Peradeniya would do justice by naming the department after him, “the Sultanbawa Department of Chemistry”. For many years Peradeniya Chemistry was synonymous internationally with the name of Sultanbawa. He built its research tradition. The tribute paid by his colleagues, on his 75th birthday anniversary a few years ago bears testimony to his incomparable contribution to the teaching of Chemistry in Sri Lanka, and in particular to the Peradeniya campus.

Both in his career as a research scientist and in his role of a scientific leader in his country many honors came his way. He was conferred with a Vidya Jothi by the the President of Sri lanka. Sultanbawa was made a Fellow of the Indian National Academy, and was a winner of the Guinness Award for Scientific Achievement in 1978. He and his research team at Peradeniya also won a Presidential Award for their research work, besides being recognized worldwide as one of the leading schools of research on natural products. Sultanbawa was a dynamic man with skill, dedication, and a philosophy that helped him keep his sense of dignity and balance despite hard luck that might come his way. This indeed was, apart from his special skills, the secret of his success. There was one other and that was his wife Sithna, whom every student and colleague voted was the ideal scientists’ wife. She was a friend to them all, and a pillar of strength in a most unostentatious manner to her husband. As much as one lauded Sultanbawa himself, one was charmed by his talented family of two sons and two daughters.

Sultanbawa’s name and influence will remain for many generations through his students and the research colleagues and members of the chemical fraternity.

Daily News Wed May 12, 1999


Izzat Ahamed – an Ambassador who won the hearts of the people

MOHAMMED RASOOLDEEN, Colombo Times Jun 18 2020

COLOMBO- Former Sri Lankan Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Mohamed Izzat Ahamed was laid to rest at the Saffron Hill Cemetery, Leicester, following Janaza prayers on Wednesday.

Ahamed passed away peacefully in the United Kingdom at the Leicester Royal Infirmary (a Hospital in Leicester) on Wednesday morning and he was buried in the evening on the same day.

Ahamed was ambassador in Riyadh for well over two years during my period in the Saudi capital in 1992. During his tenure as Ambassador of Sri Lanka in Saudi Arabids, he was determined to do tangible services for the migrant workers in the Kingdom and also he was very keen on taking the Saudi-Lanka relations to new heights.

Taking education as his priority, the envoy made far-reaching changes at the Sri Lanka International School, which was the first international institution to be established outside the island. He was responsible for bringing former Nalanda College principal D.G.Sumanaskera as the principal of the international school in Riyadh. He revised the salary structure of the staff of the school and also introduced several extra-curricular and co-curricular activities in the school. Also he took a keen interest in the activities of the Sri Lankan Expatriates Society, where he was instrumental in organizing a fund-raising campaign and bought a coach for the labour wing of the embassy to transport the stranded housemaids to ferry them to the airport and hospitals free-of-charge. He also gave a new look to the Sri Lankan mission in Riyadh by furnishing the embassy with new carpets and furniture. “ Beautifying the mission will give a good image of Sri Lanka and people can be attracted to visit Sri Lanka in this manner,” he once said, pointing out that the Saudis are heavy spenders and when they visit Sri Lanka, the country can be benefited from such activities.

He was one of those Lankan diplomats who moved with the kings, princes, diplomats and also with the common man confidently with a sense of cordiality, goodwill and sincerity.

We had a good team in Riyadh with this gentleman ambassador, who harnessed the talents and goodwill of persons like Engineer AGA Barrie, Prasad Kariyawasam, Abdul Wahab, P. Packianathan, Razeen Salih, Ameen Yusuf and several others whose names cannot be mentioned due to want of space.

He had a dream to build the Sri Lankan International School in Riyadh to have its own building but, unfortunately, the plan was toppled because of the short-sighted people of a few Sri Lankans who resisted the move.

Ahamad is survived by his two fondest sons Faisal and Aslam and his beloved wife Rizvi Marikar Bawa. The writer can still remember his wife telling about her husband when Ahamed was sick. “ I treat him like a flower because he is such a nice person,” his wife Rizvi said.

The flowers that blossom in this world tend to fade and perish sooner or later. Sincerely, hope and pray that Ahamed should blossom in heaven and remain as fresh as dew till we all meet together.

Good Bye Sir for the fondest remembrances you have left behind in this world, where nothing is permanent except death.


Other significant personalities identified by Uzman Anver are,

Bygone Past

1. Dr PD Anthonisz

2. OLM Macan Markar Family and Sir Mohamed Macan Markar & his Sisters

3. Muhandiram F. A. Wickremesinghe - Hayley's

4. Professor Llyn Ludowyk

5. Abdul Raheem's Family and Thaha Cassim - CJS

6. Jiffry Careem - Careem Jewellers

Known Past

1. Nesta Broheir nee Ephraums -

2. Hussain Cassim - Twin Towers

3. Justice Issadeen Ismail - SC Judge

4. Norah Roberts - Librarian

5. Michel Roberts

6. AM Saheed Proctor

7. Emiretus Professor Rifdy Mohideen

8. Major Hussain

9. MHA Gaffar Hajiar - Historic Mansion

10. Ms Wijenayake- former deputy mayor


1. Authad Hajiar

2. Ibrahim Hajiar

3. HH

4. Izzeth Ali - former deputy Mayor

5. Muhsin Baba - Gems & jewelry

6. Ibrahim Jewellers

7. Jayasinghe Haamu

8.  Charlette - Lawyer

9. Karuna Ayya - Shop

10. John Ayya - Baber

11. Pakeer Nana - Social Service


Fathima Hanim Siyoothy recounts the following folks:-

“The late Na'man Hajiar, The lebbe, who taught the basics and the Quran to all the children in the Fort

The late Aasiyatha who lived down New lane I and passed away at the ripeold age of around 105/107, in excellent health.

She would have been the ideal person to give us all the details of the people who lived in the Galle Fort. An outspoken lady, perfectly normal and alert, who remembered everyone’s history even when she was in her late 90s. On one occasion when I happened to pass by her house, she was seated inside and saw me, and called out to saying, “How is your daughter. Give her my Salams”

Thalha Lebbe  who lived down Leyn Baan Street, then, on Middle Street and also later on Chando Street. People would go to him for treatment of all kinds of ailments. He would recite verses from the Qu'ran and blow into a glass of water which people would bring from their homes. He was also the registrar of Muslim marriages.

Authad Hajiar who lived down Lighthouse Street, who was a very pious person.

Habsammatha who lived doen Small Cross Street and later, down Lighthouse Street. She would organize trips around Ceylon and many of the Fort people would join her group. 

My maternal uncle, Ibrahim Hajiar, who would always have a bag of sweets hanging from his waistband.on his way home from the Envelope factory on Pedlar Street, which he would distribute to each child who happened to be seated on their doorstep or playing on the streets.”

The Galle Fort Kandoori’s (feasts)

An Annual Feast is held within the Galle Fort to commemorate a saint where large numbers of people attend and partake in the rituals and lunch served thereafter.

The event is organized and managed by the Ahlus-Sunnah Wal Jammah Galle Fort Young Muslim committee and Galle Muslim Cultural Association. Special recitals and supplications are joined in by all those present. 

The Qadiriyyah Foundation also conduct an annual feast in memory of His Holiness Salih Woliullah at Fort Ga

Shrine of Badrin Razhiallahu Ta ' ala Anhu

 A sufi shrine located at south eastern corner of the Fort. It is believed that the saint was one of seven pious men who were washed ashore on to the coast of the Galle Fort in ancient times.

It is also believed that the most likely, the seven Ziyarams of the seven saints could be (1) Baththiri - Galle Fort (2) Awliyamala - Gintota (3) Katchchuwatta - Katugoda (4) Awliyamala - Matara (5) Kapparatota - Weligama and (6) & (7) his two student saints or the two Awliyas buried in Osanagoda.

Significant events held in Galle Fort

Sent by Rauf Aroos Hajiar, the Trustee of the Meeran Mosque

1.   Meera Sahib Mowlood Thamaam at Meeran Mosque

2.   Muhiyadeen Mowlood Thamam at Meeran Mosque

3.   Silsila Kandoori at Jiffry Thakkiya

4.   ManakibuShazuli for 10 days and nights. Final day lunch at gents Zavia

5.   Ladies Zavia for 6 days, Bayan after ‘Asr Prayer. Final day Thamam lunch

6.   Hussain Mowlood after ‘Asr prayer, for 12 days. Final day at Jiffry Thakkiya

7.   Pookaka Thakkiya Hussain Mowlood for 12 days and Thamam

8.   Rabiul Awwal of first crescent at late Kays Nana’s and “Bank” Mubarak’s house with dinner served on 2 days at each residence

9.   Gent’s Zavia for 12 days recital in Rabiul Awwal and breakfast. Final Meelad Day lunch

10.           Ladies Zavia for 12 days recital of Subhana Mowlood after ‘Asr with lunch served on final day

11.           Aashoora 10th crescent day dinner at Sithy Moosin’s house

12.           Badiriya Kandoori for ladies at late Zacky Datha’s house

13.           Jalaliya Rathib Thamam for ladies at late Najihanim’s house

14.           Jalaliya Rathib at Jiffry Thakkiya for ladies

15.           Faika’s house Badiri Kandoori dinner

16.           Young mens Badiri Kandoori lunch

17.           Baraath Day recital of Yaseen at night after Maghrib prayer at Meeran Mosque. Dinner, rotti kandoori

18.           Mihraj Kandoori lunch at Meeran Mosque

19.           Shafi Imam kandoori dinner at gents Zavia

20.           OLM Macan Markar Kandoori dinner at Macan’s house

21.           17 day of Ramadhan, Badiri Kandoori, for Suhoor meal at Jiffry Thakkiya

22.           Distribution of Kidu Rice to all houses (Deen’s)

23.           Sunday reciral of Badr Mowlood by ladies

24.           Monday Jalaliya Rathib recital at Jiffry Thakkiya after ‘Asr prayer (Ms Awathifa Rizvi)

25.           Wednesday Jalaliya Rathib by Ladies Study Circle after ‘Asr prayer

26.           Thursday recital of Zikr and Waleefa (Yakoothiya) Rathib by ladies after ‘Asr prayer

27.           Friday Jalaliya Rathib at Dr SK Ali (Najhani Datha’s)

28.           Monthly (first Tuesday) recital of Salawath by ladies

29.           Monthly (second Tuesday) recital of Zikr at Riyasa Nazims (Fatheen’s house

Note: Previously there used to be a

-          monthly Salawath recital by the gents after ‘Isha prayer

-          weekly Hadees/meaning of the Quran translation into Tamil after ‘Asr prayer every Monday


Saheedullah adds to the list by highlighting the events based on location and hosting as follows,

1.     Meeran Jumma Masjid

1.     Hoisting of the flag after Asar prayers and reciting Fathia and Dua in the name of Nagoor Meera Saibo and after Isha recital of the history of the Saint (Sharithiram) and Kithchadi with other niyath served for the first two days

2.     Meera Sahib Mowlood and Chishti recitation for 10 days and niyath given by turn holders and final Thamam with sawan kanduri in the night

3.     Hoisting of the flag after Asar and reciting of the Muhiyadeen Mowlood for 10 days and Thamam after Asar and on the same day Koppa Shoru distribution for lunch to the Fort Muslim residents

4.     Barath Day recitation of 03 Yaseens after Magrib Prayers and dinner served with the collection of Rotti and Milk Rice with beef curry 

5.     Mihraj recitation after Magrib Prayers with niyath distributed and on the next day Sawan  distribution for the Muslim residents of Fort

6.     After Jumma prayers in the month of Ramazan, Halara conducted by the Sahahuliya Thareekath

2.     Religious events at Thakkiyas and Zaviyas

Jiffry Thakkiya and Pookaka Thakkiya

Jiffry Thakkiya

1.     Muharam from 1st crescent moon for 12 days – Recitation of Hussain Mowlood after Asar Prayers and final day Koopa Shoru

2.     Soon after 6 days fasting in Shawwal month, the first Friday night Sil Sila Manaqib recitation in the night for 10 days and final day Kandoori lunch

3.     Following day after Sil Sila Thamam, recitation of Katahmul Quran in the name of all the departed Jiffry Tharika Mowlanas after Magrib and dinner

4.     Jalaliya Rathib for ladies at the Thakkiya on every month Monday’s after Asar Prayer (Ms Awathifa Rizvi) and final Thamam with lunch and on the night before the Thamam, recital of Rathib after Magrib and dinner

5.     Battle of Badr - 17th Day of Ramadan, recital of Badiri Mowlood at Sahr time with Sahar meals

6.     Every Thursday and Sunday nights recitations of Jiffry Mowlana Mowlood

Pookaka Thakkiya

7.     Muharam from the 1st crescent moon for 12 days - Hussain Mowlood recitation after Magrib prayers and Thamam on the final day with the distribution of Koppa Shoru bag to Muslim residents

8.     Mohideen Mowlood recitations during the respective Islamic months

Shahizi Zaviya and Ummil Fukara

Shahizi Zaviya - Males

9.     Rabiual Awwal month – Subahana Mowlood and Hareed Mowlood recitation and Halara for 12 days in the mornings with breakfast and on the final day lunch on Meelad Day

10.            On the final day after Halara, Birzanji Mowlood Dua is recited before Luhar prayers

11.            Manakibu Shazuli recitation and Bayan related to Abdul Hassen Shazuki Rahamathulla for 10 days at night with meals and on the final 11th day, Thamam lunch

12.            After Barath and before Ramazan, Shaffi Imam Mowlood recitations for 1 day after Magrib and Bayan, Yanabee and Dua recitation and dinner after Isha prayers

13.            Halara on every Saturday’s after Magrib and before Isha and refreshments served


Ummil Fukara - Ladies Zaviya

14.             Every Thusrsday evening i.e Friday night recitation of Hareed Mowlood and Niyath distribution before Magrib

15.             After Hajj Festival - Manakibu Shazuli recitation and Hadees for 6 days after Asar Prayers and next day Thamam lunch

16.             Following day after the Thamam, recitation of Katamul Quran on all the departed persons

17.             Rabiual Awwal - Subahana Mowlood recitation for 12 days after Asar and lunch on final day

18.             Recitation of different Mowloods monthly related to the respective Islamic month and event namely, Mohideen Mowlood / Meera Sahib Mowlood / Shamadar Mowlood / Badri Awliya Mowlood / Harees Mowlood / Talai-Fathiiya / Hussain Mowlood / Baranjee Mowlood by the ladies

19.             Kulafa Rasideen Mowlood recitation before the Ramazan commencement on a convenient day

3.     Bathiri Ziyaram - Ziyaram is situated at the beach near the Army Camp and a well beside the Ziyaram that never runs dry

1.     Subanha Mowlood and Yaseen recitation at the Ziyaram after Asar Prayers, one week before Ramazan commencement and Niyath distributed (Annually)

2.     In the name of the Saint at Bathiri Ziyaram, Galle Fort Youths organizes a Kidu / Sawan rice and distribute to each Muslim residents and for those who had contributed Niyath money out of Fort

3.     Every person passes this Holy shrine, recites a Fathia in the name of Bathri Sahabalkal


4.     Mowloods and Rathibs

Annual Mowloods

1.     O.L.M. Marcan Markar Kandoori (Marcans) with lunch with a piece of specially prepared muskat and the recitation of Rasoolmala on the previous night

2.     Abdul Rahims Kandoori with lunch and now continued at Colombo by Nizam Cader

3.     Late Thaha Cassim (Colombo Jewllers) Mowlood and lunch at Galle Fort residence

4.     Rabiul Awwal of 1st crescent moon, recitation at Late Kayes and Mubarak houses with dinner served on 2 consecutive days at their residences

5.     On the 9th crescent moon day of Muharam (Ashoora) recitation of Talai-Fathiya at Sappudu, Galle Fort with dinner and now continued at Dehiwala

6.     On the 10th day of Ashura, Iftar programme and Kathamul Quran Thamam in their parents name and Halara with dinner for special invitees at Sithy Moosin’s residence

7.     Recitation of Badri Mowlood every week Sundays after Asar and Badririya Kandoori Thamam before commencement of Ramazan with lunch at Late Zacky Thatha residence for ladies

8.     Recital of Yaseen and Kathmul Quran at the Bathri Sahabakal Ziraram after Magrib and recitation of Hadad Rathib after Isha prayers at Faika Junaid’s residence with dinner

9.     Recitaion of Kawja Mohideen Chisti Manaqib for 5 days started by Late Potti Sally, now recited at Basheera’s house and final day niyath to each house

10.            Mowlood recitation on the last day of Rabiual Awaal at Iflal Kudoos residence with dinner

11.            Jalaliya Rathib conducted for ladies at Late Najihani Datha’s residence on every Saturdays after Asar (earlier at Thalal Lebbe’s) and Thamam before one week before the commencement of Ramazan

12.            Baranjee Mowlood Recital at Tesco house at midnight and recital of Dua before Fajr Azan admire the birth time of Holy Prophet Muhamad (SAL), earlier conducted at Awthard Hajiar’s ancestral house

13.            Hareed Mowlood and Halara recitation and lunch was at Kuhafa nana residence and now continued by Afan and Ashraf Kuhafa with lunch

14.            Harred Mowlood and Subahaha Mowlood Dua recitation and dinner given by late M. K. M. Ismail at their residence now given to BIA college students

Weekly / Monthly – Mowloods / Rathibs / Recitaion of Salawath and Zikr

15.            Zikr and Waleefa (Yakoothiya) Rathib conducted by Ladies on every Thursdays

16.            Recital of Salawath by Ladies on first Tuesday of each month

17.            Recital of Zikr at Riyasa Nasim’s residence on every second Tuesday of each month

18.            Recitation of Nakshabandiya Zikr (Sheik Nassim) at Riyas Nassim’s residence every month Tuesdays

19.            Jalaliya Rathib recitation after Asar Prayers by Ladies Study Circle one day before Ramazan by members and special invitees

20.            Recital at Aminatha House during respective Islamic month - Mohideen Mowlood with Koppa Shoroo niyath and Sheik Dawood Mowlood with lunch

21.            Once a month, Salath-un-Naria recitations at the Galle Muslim Cultural Association with dinner sponsored by the donors for males


5.     Holy Prophet Muhamad (SAL) celebrations – Rabiual Awwal


1.     Recitation of Subahana Mowlood for 12 days after Magrib during the Rabiual Awwal

2.     12 days Bayan after Isha prayers daily during Rabiual Awwal month at the Meera Mosque

3.     On the 12th day of Holy Prophet Muhamad (SAL) birthday celebration at the Galle Fort conducted by Galle Muslim Cultural Association and distribution of prizes to winners of Islamic events

4.     The day after the 12th day of Holy Prophet Muhamad (SAL) birthday, celebration conducted at Bahijathul Ibrahimiya Arabic College (BIA) organised by the students of the college

5.     After 12 days Meelad, Fort Youth distributes lunch to each Muslim residents of Fort and donors

1.     Past Annual Mowloods at Homes discontinued

1.     Mowlood recitation and lunch at Late Muhamad Ali nana residence (Ali Bros)

2.     Mowlood recitation and lunch by Gemrich, Colombo was given at Gemrich residence

3.     Mowlood recitation and lunch by Stylex ,Colombo was given at Sappudu

4.     Sheik Dawood Mowlood recitation at Late Sainoon Thatha’s residence


Ifthikhar Aziz states,

Every Saturday and Sunday evening, the men from Galle Fort who were mainly working or doing business in Colombo, would meet in their 'mini Parliament on the grassy area on the Rampart of the Galle Fort very near to the beautiful Fort Mosque. The Agenda for their meetings was appropriately termed ' Seethala' bcoz it was a kind of shooting the breeze with harmless gossip, interesting events and happenings in the preceding week, breaking news and anything juicy. In fact, Seethala Group on Facebook got its name from this informal group of Galle Fort 'parliamentarians'!!”

“My Father late Senior Advocate MHA Aziz had his roots in Talapitiya, a couple of Kms outside the Fort but as a popular Advocate and Tennis player of repute, he had more to do with Galle Fort than his birth place. He built a very lucrative legal carrier in the law courts in the Fort and he was the uncrowned Tennis Champion of Galle and the Southern province, making his name famous as an accomplished left handed tennis champ from the tennis courts situated just inside the entrance to the Fort.”

“My late Dad also started the very first Ahadiyya Sunday School in the Fort. There are now 500+ Ahadiyya Schools all over the island today with a Ahadiyya Academy, off Kuliyapitiya”

The Eulos/The New Bastion that has a flight of stone steps leading down to the sea, in the southern sector, is a popular location for those wanting to take a dip in the Indian Ocean. There is a fresh water well nearby which was covered with jungle shrubs and later restored during the period of ex Mayor ARM Thassim.

The famous fiction author, DH Lawrence wrote,

“Oh you pleasant visitors!

Come hither, come hither,

Here shall you enter

Into the historic Dutch Fort,

To lead an ethnic life, peacefully,

To breathe fresh breeze, to recreate happily,

To hone your stiff limbs to be healthy,

To view and to pray and to worship reverentially,

The rising and the setting sun,

while marveling, all that is of the historical Dutch Fort,

‘The citronella perfumed balmy spot’”


The old town of Galle and its fortifications

The Island, Tue May 11 2021

Galle provides an outstanding example of urban ensemble which illustrates the interaction of European architecture and South Asian tradition from the 16th to the 19th centuries. Among these characteristics that makes this an urban group of exceptional value is the original sewer system from the 17th century which is flushed with sea water and controlled by a pumping station formerly activated by a windmill in the Triton Bastian.”

According to the Galle Heritage Foundation the Triton Bastian (which is a projecting part of a fortification) is one of many gun Bastians built on a long rampart. Some having been built by the Portuguese but many by the Dutch. For the Dutch it must be remembered, such fortifications were necessary to defend the western approaches to Galle Fort, from enemy navies. In particular the British navy. In the article referred to above it is also stated that “the most salient feature is the use of European models adapted by local manpower to the geological, climatic, historic and cultural conditions of Sri Lanka. In the structure of these ramparts coral was frequently used along with granite. In the ground layout all the measures of length, width and height conform to the regional metrology. The wide streets were planted with grass and shaded with Suriyas and were lined with houses, each in its own garden and an open verandah supported by columns which is another sign of acculturation of an architecture which is European only in its basic design.” (AUTHOR’S NOTE : Suriyas were trees usually used for fencing and sometimes grew to a height of 30 feet).

Built first by the Portuguese in the 16th Century, Galle reached the height of its development during the Dutch colonial rule. Galle, it has been claimed is the best example of a fortified city in South and South – East Asia and is the last remaining fortress in Asia built by European occupiers. Since it was the Dutch that earned for Galle the honour of being listed as a World Heritage Site, it would be relevant to describe what they actually built. Among the heritage monuments there is the Dutch Reformed Church referred to at that time as ‘Groote Kerk.’ Located at the entrance to the Fort it was built in 1755 and is said to be the oldest Protestant church in Sri Lanka. The floor is paved with large gravestones taken from the old Dutch cemetery. The pulpit is made of calamander wood from Malaysia. This church is still in use.

On Church Road is All Saints Church. This is an Anglican Church built on the site of the former Dutch Courthouse. The Church was consecrated by Bishop Claughton, the second Bishop of Colombo on February 21, 1871. Prior to this the Anglican congregation used to worship in the earlier mentioned Dutch Reformed Church. Today the faithful still gather here for worship. An interesting fact is that a large bell was installed in the dome of the Church in memory of the first Vicar, Rev Dr. Schrader. However for security reasons this bell was lowered in 1960, and now lies in the premises of the Cathedral of Christ the Living Saviour in Colombo.

Along Lighthouse Street is what has been described as a ‘quaint little’ Roman Catholic Church. It was built by the Dutch in 1893 and is claimed to be one of the oldest Roman Catholic Churches in the country where services are held even today. Referring to Churches one cannot overlook another historic landmark, namely the magnificent St Mary’s Cathedral located on Prison Road, in the city of Galle. It was built in 1874, but not by the Dutch. It was by the Society of Jesus. There is no doubt that this too would have contributed to the inscription of World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

Catering to the religious needs of the Buddhist population there lies along Rampart Street the Sri Sudharmalaya Temple which was built as far back as 1889.In the construction of this temple there is evidence of the impact of Dutch and European architecture. And then we come to the beautifully crafted, majestic, Meeran Mosque, built in 1904, it is located opposite the Galle Lighthouse and was and still is a place of deep veneration and prayer for the Muslims who form the largest religious group within the Fort.

Moving from the religious to the secular, there can be seen as one enters the Galle Fort through the Old Gate, the British Coat of Arms, with the inscription ‘ Dieu et Mon Droit (God and My Right). In the inner part of this fortified entrance is a 1668 dated inscription with the letters VOC (Verenigde Oostindinsche Compagnie – meaning Dutch East India Company). Further inside the Fort is the 87 ft. tall, Lighthouse, built by the British in 1939. However the earlier Lighthouse also built by the British in 1848 was destroyed by fire in 1936. Further into the Fort on Church Street was the old Government House. Built in 1683 it was used for administrative purposes and also served as the residence of the Commander. Regrettably however it is now closed, for visitors.

Near the Old Gate was the Great Warehouse built around 1669 which was used to store spices and ship’s equipment. It now houses the National Maritime Museum. One of the oldest buildings within the Fort is the Dutch Hospital built in the 17th Century, referred to as the Old Dutch Hospital, very aptly it is on Hospital Street and close to the harbor for the benefit of Dutch seamen. It was supposed to be built on a location where there was a Portuguese mint. In 1850 the British converted this to a barracks. It is now a shopping and restaurant arcade.

Then on Church Street there is another complex built in 1684 as the headquarters of the Dutch commanders and the staff. In 1865 it was converted to the New Orient Hotel catering to European passengers travelling between Europe and Galle. Today it is the five star Amangalla Hotel. Outside the Galle Fort on the southern side of Galle Bay in an island promontory. On it is Closenberg Hotel. It is a story of the transformation of an elegant manor to a star- class hotel. Once called Villa Marina, it was built in 1859 by Captain Bayley, who was the local agent for the P & O Shipping Company. It changed ownership in 1889 to Simon Perera Abeywardena who was the son-in-law of one of the country’s greatest entrepreneurs and philanthropists, Sir Charles Henry de Soysa. In 1965 this home was reconstructed to be a hotel. It was named Closenberg. The name is derived from the Dutch name Klossenburg, which means a small fort on which the sea roars.

Yet another chapter in the colorful history of Galle began in 1796, when the British East India Company entered Ceylon from India where it had its stronghold. Quite naturally they nudged the Dutch out of Galle. Two large Sri Lankan conglomerates which had in those early years been British companies, had their beginning in Galle. One was Chas. P. Hayley and Company which was established in 1878 and much later became Hayleys PLC. The other was Clarke Spence and Company, which was established in 1868 and much later became Aitken Spence PLC.

From buildings and companies let’s move on to trees. In fact one particular tree – The breadfruit tree ( Artucapus incisisus ). Known in Sinhala as ‘del.’ It was introduced by the Dutch. In an article dated January 10, 2021 titled ‘Historical Ancient Trees in Sri Lanka’ by Hemi it is stated that this was planted by the Dutch. circa 1721. Located near the Akersloot Bastian. It is still in existence.

And then Alas! came the Tsunami on December 26, 2004. At 6.28 that morning a mega under-sea earthquake of 9.3 on the Richter scale erupted near Banda Aceh in Sumatra. This sent 100 ft high waves speeding across the Indian Ocean ferociously lashing Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Sri Lanka, India, Maldives, Myanmar and even Somalia –in that order. By 9.25 the waves smashed into the southern and south-western coast. Amongst the districts affected was Galle. The walls of the rampart which were built to withstand cannon fire now acted to withstand Nature’s fury. They became wave breakers. In addition the effective drainage system installed by the Dutch drained off the flood waters without much damage within the Fort itself.

To quote Fr. Damian Arsakularatne, a highly respected Roman Catholic priest who was the former Director of Caritas which was one of the many organisations that did post- tsunami, reconstruction work ” If the Fort had not been there, Oh my God!, I can’t even imagine the damage that would have been. It saved us.” However the adjacent Galle International Stadium and grounds suffered severe damage. In fact the stadium served as a temporary shelter for hundreds of persons who had lost their homes. In Galle town the old vegetable market built by the British in 1890 was in shambles.


Galle Fort Culinary Delicacies

Thakkadi (Dumplings & Rice Balls)

                                          Aviyal (yams, greens and dried fish cooked in coconut milk)

Folk lore has it that Aviyal was originally created by a Galle Fort mother who had too many mouths to feed and could not afford to cookmany different curries to satisfy all of them and hence chose to mix the yams that went into Aviyal and prepare one big dish that would be sufficient for all. It is made up of a rich curry consisting of salted boney fish, white rice, coconut flakes, breadfruit, pumpkin, spinach, sweet yam (batala) and and another yam called ‘gahala’, mixed in coconut milk and spiced with salt, turmeric, and chillie. [Uzman Anver, Attorney at Law, Galle Fort]


                                                          Ambul Thiyal (Salted Fish)

 Kettu Soru (basket rice) is another special Galle delicacy of rice prepared with Dhal (lentils), Kaliya (Egg plant/Aubergine), curried Potato, Karuwadu (Dried salted fish, fried), Pilakotta (Jak seed, fried), Batala porichchi (Sweet yam, fried), Eracci Porichchi (beef, fried), mango chutney, Meen Theechi (Salted fish cooked in thick gravy), Boiled Egg, Fried Egg,  shredded Jak cooked, grated coconut & turmeric sambol, all packed, wrapped and served in a green banana leaf.

Badawaa Fish (Lutjanus rivulatus)


The Badawaa fish is eaten with white rice, coconut flakes, shredded jak, onions, cooked with potato, eggplant, sweet potato, breadfruit, and raw mango. It is a blubberlip snapper (or Maori snapper), a species native to the Indian Ocean and into the Pacific Ocean as far east as Samoa. They inhabit waters over rocky substrates at depths from 15m to 100m.

                                     Notable Gentlemen from the community


                                                        Galle Fort Ladies


Ladies Kandoori

Watti Shoru (Basket rice)

Yellow Fin Tuna fish (Kelawalla/ Thunnus albacares) salted with small squid (tempered in oil), onions, sliced egg plant, sprats, deep fried shrimp, deep fried mackerel served on a large platter (Sahan) which serves 6/8 people.

Galle Pickle


Sweet potato, Yam, Pumpkin, raw Banana, red onion, salted fish and lime

Paal Poluppu (Kiri Hodi/Coconut curry

Pacha Shambul 
(red onions, green chillies finely chopped, Maldive fish salt, and lime juice in a mix) 


Other foods popular in the Fort, which are also commonly found among the Moors of Colombo, Kandy, and other cities, are, Pirini (semolina pudding), Adukku Rotti (meat pie), Semolina Jaggery Cake, Breadfruit Meat curry, Kalawan (mix of meat parts), Semolina Fritters.



The population of Galle Fort was 1,068 in the year 2012. The ethnicity ratio was,

851 Muslims

577 Sinhalese

36 Tamils

65 foreigners

making  a total of 1,529 in 2009, according to the Survey of Galle Heritage Foundation (Liyana Arachchi 2009) 



Huge credit is due to Ms Fathima Hanim* Siyoothy, of Leyn Baan Street, Fort, Galle, who took tremendous pains in mapping the streets and their inhabitants with some history of their ancestors who lived in the Fort. Other Galle Fort folks who lent a hand in compiling her work are Ms Sithy Nuwaira Hamza Marikkar, Sathar Cader, Ms Fathuma Hamza, Ms Fazniya Zain Vilcassim, Ms Zameela Hussain, Ms Rizna Hussain, Ms Fazlyn Sheriff, Ifthikhar Aziz, Aamina Nizar, Muwaffaka Siyoothy Elneser, Saheedulla, & Uzman Anver (Attorney at Law). My sincere thanks to all of them without whose erstwhile contributions this work could never have been achieved. May they all be Blessed!

The Fort in Ancient Times