Located 500m above the sea level it is the capital and gateway to the hill country. Also known as the royal city of Kandy, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it was the last capital of the Singhalese Kingdom, Kandy has a charisma of its own. Many a sight has changed since the Colonial Britain overthrew the Kandyan King and started its reign in this island country in the year 1815. But it retains most of its ancient treasures, a bit of colonial splendour and is respected and visited by many a Buddhist as it is home to the Temple of the Tooth.
In entering the city center you will encounter the lake, located centrally. Taking a walk around you will encounter street vendors, busy shops, calm corners and many pilgrims. Visiting Kandy gives you an opportunity to enter the Temple of the Tooth, a golden roofed temple where Buddha’s tooth relic kept safe in all its grandeur, gathering reverence from devotees who flock to pay their respects.
The Maligawa Museum by the Temple of the Tooth holds a treasure of artifacts gifted to it by Kings and noble men over many generations. Another item of interest would be what taxidermists have worked on to preserve and honor, the Monument to Rajah, the tusker who carried the tooth in the Esala Perehera for 50 years from 1937 to 1987.
The Esela Perehara seen each year over a period of ten days during the months of July/August, is a marvellous procession of whip crackers, varied dancers, elephants, fire breathers and stilt walkers that circles the temple along an ancient route carrying the tooth relic with much veneration. Make sure to mark it on your holiday calendar!
Visit the Kandy National Museum (open 9.00 am to 5.00pm) which displays excellent exhibits from the Kandyan period. And to learn more about Buddhism, visit the International Buddhist Museum located in a building built by the British over the former palace of King Wimaladharmasuriya.
To understand ancient Kandyan temple architecture and arts, stopover at the 14th century Lankatilleke and Gadaladeniya, icons of Sri Lankan history’s artistic buildings as well as Embekke Devale, an ancient Hindu temple, a marvel of wooden carvings. Other places of note: Degaldoruwa rock temple proudly with its mid 18th century frescoes and the peaceful Alahana privina which is now considered UNESCO site.
Peradeniya Botanical Gardens attract many a tourist offering them with opportunities for adventure.
On your way back to Colombo from this historical city, make a stop by the Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage and watch these wonderful creatures bathe in the river. And while you are there, why not give a go at bottle feeding the baby elephants their morning milk? And for those with an adventurous streak… a stopover at Kitulgala is a must! It is where you can ride the raging waters and test your courage as your white water raft your way along the Kelani river.
Kandy is famed for its souvenirs – crafts, batiks, silks and more! Visit the Craft Village about 7 km away from Kandy to see for yourself how traditional crafts are made. Amongst the many delightful shops that attract tourists you could visit Kandy for local crafts, batiks, fabrics and gems. And if you need to shop, visit the KCC, a modern plaza in the city center or find your way to the old quarter of the city to discover boutique shops.