Gaffoor Building

Last updated
Gaffoor Building
Colombo 02.jpg
Location map of central Colombo.png
Red pog.svg
Location in central Colombo
General information
Addresscorner Sir Baron Jayatilaka Mawatha and Leyden Bastian Street, Colombo Fort
Town or cityColombo
CountrySri Lanka
Coordinates 6°56′12″N79°50′47″E / 6.93667°N 79.84639°E / 6.93667; 79.84639 Coordinates: 6°56′12″N79°50′47″E / 6.93667°N 79.84639°E / 6.93667; 79.84639
ClientN. D. H. Abdul Gaffoor
Technical details
Floor countfour (including a basement)
Floor area8,250sqm

The Gaffoor Building is a prominent four-storey wedge-shaped building located on the corner Sir Baron Jayatilaka Mawatha and Leyden Bastian Street, Colombo Fort.

The building was built for Noordeen Hajiar Abdul Gaffoor, one of the country's pioneer jewellers and gem stone traders. [1] Gaffoor established N. D. H. Abdul Gaffoor & Sons (Export of Gems, Pearls, & Jewelry, Import of Diamonds) at the Bristol Hotel in Colombo in 1894. He was one of a few merchants who received exclusive permission to board ships in the Colombo harbour to sell gems and jewellery. In 1901 Gaffoor was granted the privilege of exhibiting pearls, diamonds, rubies and sapphires and art works to the Prince and Princess of Wales during their Royal visit. He took part in a number of world exhibitions including, the St. Louis World's Fair in 1904, All Ceylon Exhibition in 1912, the British Empire Exhibition in 1924 and the Philadelphia World Fair in 1925, all of which further enhanced his and his company's reputation. [2] His younger brother, N. H. M. Abdul Cader, was one of the Muslim representatives on the Legislative Council, serving between 1917 and 1930. [3]

The building was completed in 1915 and was described as being "one of the largest and finest commercial structures in Colombo". [4] The building not only provided space for Gaffoor's jewellery emporium, but also provided office space on the upper floors for many of Ceylon's most prominent companies and trading houses; well-known tenants included H. W. Cave & Co (the country's premier bookshop), Mackwoods Ltd, Holland-Ceylon Commercial Co and the Rubber and Produce Traders (Ceylon) Ltd.

In October 1947 the office of Australian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka (which at the time was the Dominion of Ceylon) was relocated from the Galle Face Hotel to the Gaffoor Building. In 1950 it was relocated to the Grand Oriental Hotel. [5]

The Gaffoor Building was gazetted as a 'Protected Monument' under the Antiquities Ordinance on 4 October 2000, due to its historical value. In 2008 the Commissioner at the Department of Archeology, Dr. Senarath Dissanayake noted that the "building is in very bad condition and the money spent on its conservation is expected to be in the range of several millions of rupees." "It is in a dilapidated condition and on the verge of collapsing. The worst thing is the water that seeps underneath making the foundation weak." [6] The building was subject to unauthorised works, with a portion of the building being converted into a car park despite it being declared as a heritage building. [6]

In 2012 a consortium of international investors proposed to redevelop the building into a 40-storey 300 room boutique hotel, at an investment of over US$ 90 million, inclusive of the value of the land. The major impediment to the redevelopment was the lack of clarity as to who the legal owners of the building were. The title to the building was with the EAP Group and the Edirisinghe family however there were a number of other claimants, including the descendants of the Gaffoor family, who lodged injunctions against building's sale. In addition the building was occupied by squatters and the investors were concerned that they might demand adverse possession of the building. Both issues had the potential to significantly delay the acquisition and redevelopment of the site. [7]

It was subsequently purchased by the Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) and the ownership was transferred to the Urban Development Authority (UDA). [8] In 2014 the UDA chairman, Nimal Perera, announced that the authority would be reconstructing and renovating the building, in order to redevelop it as a 63 room hotel, with the ground floor accommodating up to six supermarkets. [9] The hotel would be operated by the City Hotels Group and the works would be undertaken by the Sri Lanka Navy under the instructions of the UDA. [10]

Related Research Articles

Colombo Chief port of Sri Lanka

Colombo is the commercial capital and largest city of Sri Lanka by population. According to the Brookings Institution, Colombo metropolitan area has a population of 5.6 million, and 752,993 in the city proper. It is the financial centre of the island and a tourist destination. It is located on the west coast of the island and adjacent to the Greater Colombo area which includes Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte, the legislative capital of Sri Lanka and Dehiwala-Mount Lavinia. Colombo is often referred to as the capital since Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte is within the urban area of, and a suburb of, Colombo. It is also the administrative capital of the Western Province and the district capital of Colombo District. Colombo is a busy and vibrant city with a mixture of modern life, colonial buildings and monuments.

Batticaloa International Airport

Batticaloa International Airport, formerly known as Batticaloa Airport, is an international airport serving eastern Sri Lanka. It is also a military airbase known as Sri Lanka Air Force Batticaloa or SLAF Batticaloa. The airport is located in the village of Puthunagar on the island of Thimilathiu, 1 nautical mile south-west of the city of Batticaloa. It resides at an elevation of 3 m (10 ft) and has one runway designated 06/24 with a bitumen surface measuring 1,560 by 46 metres.

Jaffna International Airport

Jaffna International Airport, formerly known as Palaly Airport and Jaffna Airport, is an international airport serving northern Sri Lanka. It is also a military airbase known as Sri Lanka Air Force Palaly or SLAF Palaly. The airport is located in the town of Palaly near Kankesanthurai, 7 nautical miles north of the city of Jaffna. It resides at an elevation of 10 m (34 ft) and has one runway designated 05/23 with an asphalt surface measuring 1,400 by 30 metres.

Galle Face Green

Galle Face is a 5 ha ocean-side urban park, which stretches for 500 m (1,600 ft) along the coast, in the heart of Colombo, the financial and business capital of Sri Lanka. The promenade was initially laid out in 1859 by Governor Sir Henry George Ward, although the original Galle Face Green extended over a much larger area than is seen today. The Galle Face Green was initially used for horse racing and as a golf course, but was also used for cricket, polo, football, tennis and rugby.

Beruwala Town in Western Province, Sri Lanka

Beruwala is a town in Kalutara District, Western Province, Sri Lanka, governed by an Urban Council. Beruwala with a total area of approximately 15 square kilometres and is located on the south-west coast of Sri Lanka, 60 km (37 mi) south of Colombo.

TheMemon People arrived in Ceylon from Sindh region in the year 1870s. Sunni Hanafi Muslim by origin, the Memon people are entrepreneurs and traders who settled in Ceylon for business opportunities during the colonial period. Some of these people came to the country as far back as the Portuguese period. Memons arrived during the British period from the Kathiawar region during the Partition of India in 1947. Majority of Memons arrived in Sri Lanka were from the historical village called Kutiyana, in Junagadh District, State of Gujarat, India. Along with the Kathiawar Memons, many Other Memon families from out of the popular Kathiawar Memon villages also arrived, and they are known and identified as the Mir, Pinjara, Allahrakha, khatri and Mulla within the Memon community in Sri Lanka. Sri Lankan Memons are strictly following the traditional and cultural values of the International Memon community. Memons in Sri Lanka are represented by the Memon Association of Sri Lanka.

Bogambara Prison

Bogambara Prison was a maximum security prison and the second largest prison in the country after Welikada Prison in Colombo, Sri Lanka. After operating for 138 years, the prison was closed on 1 January 2014, and the inmates were transferred to the new Dumbara prison complex in Pallekele. In 2019, the government declared the prison site would become a cultural tourism centre, the Bogambara Cultural Park.

Former General Post Office, Colombo

The former Colombo General Post Office, at 17 Janadhipathi Mawatha, Colombo Fort, was the headquarters of the Sri Lanka Post and the office of the Postmaster General for over one hundred years, from 1895 until 2000.

Aitken Spence PLC is a Sri Lankan blue chip conglomerate with operations in South Asia, the Middle East, Africa and the Pacific. Listed in the Colombo Stock Exchange since 1983, it has major interests in hotels, travel, maritime services and logistics. The group also has a significant presence in printing, plantations, power generation, financial services, IT, Business Process Outsourcing/Knowledge Process Outsourcing sector, elevator agency services, garments, and property development.

Port City Colombo Place in Colombo, Sri Lanka

Colombo International Financial City (CIFC) is a special financial zone and International Financial Centre located in Colombo, Sri Lanka, which is currently under construction on reclaimed land adjacent to the Galle Face Green. The land reclamation work had been completed as of January 2018. The cost is slated at 15 billion dollars.

Hameed Al Husseinie College National school in Colombo, Sri Lanka

Hameed Al Husseinie College is an Islamic national school in Colombo, Sri Lanka, founded in 1884.

George Steuart Group

The George Steuart Group of Companies is Sri Lanka’s oldest mercantile establishment, having been established in 1835 during British occupation of Ceylon. It is the oldest surviving mercantile firm in the country, with a recorded history dating back to the early 19th century, and is the first on the register of companies in Sri Lanka

Pettah Floating Market

The Pettah Floating Markets are located on Bastian Mawatha in Pettah, a neighborhood in Colombo, Sri Lanka, and consist of 92 trade stalls, with a number of the stalls established on boats on Beira Lake. The floating market serves as a tourist attraction selling local produce and local handicraft.

Clan House, Galle

Clan House is a two-storey white stone building, located at 24 Church Street, Galle.

Grand Oriental Hotel

Grand Oriental Hotel or GOH is a 3 star heritage hotel, located in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

St. Peters Church, Colombo Church in Colombo Fort, Sri Lanka

St. Peter's Church is one of the oldest continuously functioning churches in Colombo, Sri Lanka. It is located on Church Street in Colombo Fort, on the northern side of the Grand Oriental Hotel.

Ibrahim Adaham Abdul Cader, known as I. A. Cader was a Sri Lankan lawyer and member of the Parliament of Sri Lanka.


  1. Wright, Arnold (ed.). Twentieth Century Impressions of Ceylon: Its History, People, Commerce, Industries, and Resources. Asian Educational Services. pp. 460–463. ISBN   9788120613355.
  2. Azwer, Alhaj A. H. M. (1 November 2009). "Philanthropist Alhaj N. D. H. Abdul Caffoor – Piety and Honesty His forte". The Island . Retrieved 13 November 2019.
  3. Gunawardena, Charles A. (2005). Encyclopedia of Sri Lanka. Sterling Publishers Pvt. Ltd. p. 1. ISBN   9781932705485.
  4. Macmillan, Allister, ed. (2005). Extract from Seaports of India and Ceylon. Asian Educational Services. p. 479.
  5. "About Us". The High Commission of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, Canberra, Australia. Retrieved 12 November 2019.
  6. 1 2 Wamanan, Arthur (27 January 2008). "Making a car park out of a heritage building". The Sunday Leader . Retrieved 12 November 2019.
  7. Ladduwahetty, Ravi (8 July 2012). "US-Brit investors willing to pump US$ 90mn plus for 7- star Gaffoor bldg hotel project, but…". The Island . Retrieved 12 November 2019.
  8. "Ancient Gaffoor Building becomes a city hotel". 13 March 2014. Retrieved 12 November 2019.
  9. "100 year-old Gafoor building reconstruction underway". The Sunday Times . 30 March 2014. Retrieved 12 November 2019.
  10. Yatawara, Dhaneshi (27 April 2014). "Colombo to retain its beauty". The Sunday Observer . Retrieved 12 November 2019.