Kandy is Sri Lanka’s second largest city and home to a Sinhalese cultural tradition of which Sri Lankans are justifiably proud. It lies at the very heart of Sri Lanka, surrounded by lush green hills. The unique cultural heritage can be seen and felt everywhere in the architecture, music and dance of this extensive city, which has a pleasantly cool climate because of its elevation.
Its undoubted centrepiece is Sri Lanka’s most important religious shrine, the Temple of the Tooth and its most exciting event, a parade involving over thirty fantastically costumed elephants, is the festival ‘Esala Perahera’. Kandy has a wonderful combination of historical significance and natural beauty, leading to its being named an UNESCO world heritage site in 1988, like Galle, but for very different reasons.
The lovely countryside around Kandy contains a great variety of attractions, among them the beautiful Peradeniya Botanical Gardens. The region’s cultural heritage can be seen in the various historic temples set at intervals throughout the area, dating from the heyday of the Kandyan kingdom. You can see the compelling traditional Kandyan dancing at one of the city’s several cultural performance venues. To get away from it all, visit the rugged Knuckles Range, just to the east. This is Sri Lanka’s hill country, the last great wilderness area and a great place for trekking and bird watching.
|Places in Kandy
|Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic
|Sri Dalada Maligawa or the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, alongside Adam’s Peak, is considered one of the holiest places in Sri Lanka and is an important pilgrimage destination. The golden-roofed temple is supposedly home to a tooth of Buddha and during the puja, the time of offering and prayers, tourists as well as religious followers are able to inspect the gold casket in which it is guarded. The temple itself is located in the royal palace complex, which encompasses several temples and museums. It was originally believed that the holder of the tooth relic would also be the rightful governor of Sri Lanka. Particularly noteworthy is the annual perahera, during which the tooth is paraded around the city accompanied by around 65 colorfully decorated elephants.
|Kandy Lake was artificially constructed by the last king of Sri Lanka and Kandy, Wikrama Rajasinhe, as an additional feature for the beautifully laid out Temple of Tooth complex. Also called the Milky Ocean, the lake remains partially incomplete due to the British invasion in 1815. Several legends are connected to Kandy Lake and it is believed that the king installed a secret tunnel from its island to the palace. Nowadays, it remains one of the most highly regarded sights in the country and, despite its location in the center of the bustling city, the lake makes for a wonderful stroll and a respite from the noise of motorbikes and market vendors.
|Giragama Tea Plantation
|Sri Lanka remains one of the world’s most important tea producers and is home to numerous extensive tea plantations. It is worth taking a trip to one of the many tea factories to inspect the process up close and marvel at the beauty of the tea plants, which are usually planted over hilly areas and make for a truly dazzling scenery. Giragama Tea Plantation is located just outside of the city and provides an insight into the refinery of delicious teas, from green to Earl Grey. It is situated around 613 meters above the sea level and it also houses a tea museum. Visitors will not only be able to further their knowledge through a tour but they will also be given a taste of the end products.
|Peradeniya Royal Botanical Garden
|Due to an ideal climate, Sri Lanka has been a popular destination for merchants trading in spices for more than 2000 years. Visitors can find a wealth of deliciously smelling plants in Kandy’s spice gardens from pepper and nutmeg to cloves, cinnamon and cardamom. The Royal Botanical Garden, Peradeniya, is located just a few kilometers outside of the city and is home to more than 4000 different plants species including medicinal plants, orchids and palm trees. Travelers are able to enjoy a truly memorable experience here. For those looking to take some of the spices back home, there are several markets, however, it is advisable to double check prices.
|Should you find yourself in Sri Lanka in July or August, make your way to Kandy to marvel at the annual Esala Perahera procession, a historical event in which the sacred tooth relic of Buddha is paraded through the streets. Next to several colorful elephants, the procession consists of numerous local dancers, drummers and fire plays. The majestic elephants are decorated with colorful and glittering clothing and parade throughout the streets every evening –they increase in numbers until more than 50 of these gentle animals fill the streets. The festival commences with a water cutting ceremony by the Mahaweli River. Travelers wishing to get the best possible views of the Perahera should arrive early in order to save themselves a seat or should be prepared to pay high prices in order to acquire front-row seats.