Sri Lanka will build a memorial chamber for Chinese traveler Zheng He inside the Maritime Museum in Galle.
In a statement, Nalaka Godahewa, chairman of Sri Lanka's Tourism Development Authority, said the chamber is to be made in tribute to the 14th century Chinese explorer who is considered as the greatest navigator to visit Sri Lanka from China in 1405 for the first time.
"Zheng He was believed to have been the first sailor to establish a direct sea route between the Western Pacific and Indian Oceans as an alternate to the famous silk road by land. His voyages predated Christopher Columbus' discovery of America by 87 years and were 114 years before Ferdinand de Magellan's round-the- world voyage," Godahewa stated.
He said that Zheng He came to Sri Lanka 100 years before the Portuguese who arrived in 1505 and conquered Sri Lanka.
"He came in a fleet of 317 ships with 27,800 sailors. Despite some initial resistance, he didn't try to colonize the country. Instead he became a true friend of Sri Lanka and visited the country six times during 1405 to 1433," he stated.
An inscription in Chinese, Tamil and Persian erected in 1411 and gifted by Zheng He to Sri Lanka is now in the National Museum in Colombo.