Kandy 115 km from Colombo, Sri Lanka's picturesque highland capital, last stronghold of Sri Lankan kings against European conquest from the 16 th to the 19 th centuries. It is the sanctuary of traditional culture, and the island's most visited tourist resort. Its diverse charm offer a feast of memorable sight-scenery and exciting experiences. Kandy is set amidst tea and spice gardens, mountains, lake and a river, 490 metres above sea level. Road and rail access from Colombo through the Kadugannawa and Balane passes is picturesque, dramatic and befitting a medieval mountain stronghold.
Kandy 's main attraction is the Dalada Maligawa, the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic of the Buddha brought to Sri Lanka in the 4 th century AD. This sacred relic has ever since been the symbol of sovereignity for its rulers and is always enshrined in great splendour.
The 14 th century Natha Devale (temple) a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is dedicated to a guardian God of Sri Lanka. Adorned with traditional entrance archway, it is built on a walled stone platform and is Kandy's oldest monument. Temples dedicated to the three other guardian deities. Maha Vishnu, Kataragama and Pattini, have characteristic 18 th century architecture and double-slope roofs. The 18 th century Audience Hall (Magul Maduwa) is a stately open pavilion with elaborately carved hardwood pillars. Other monuments near by include the Ulpenge (Queen's Bath) and the 16 th century King's Palace which is presently the Aracheological Museum.
Kandy also has many mementos of its British colonial period which lasted from 1815 until national independence in 1948. These include St Paul's (Anglican) Church, the King's Pavillion (now an official state residence), the British Garrison Cemetery and Hotel Suisse, once the staff headquarters of the South East Asia Command (SEAC) during the second world war.
For a visitor what Kandy has to offer is multifold. If you are a Nature Lover the Udawattekele Sanctuary which is a verdant nature reserve located within the district of Kandy with a wealth of indigenous and endemic plants. Six kilometers from Kandy, at Peradeniya, the magnificent 57 hectare Royal Botanical Gardens, laid out in 1832, are among the finest in the world. Its treasures of tropical flora include fine collections of orchids, aromatic spices, medicinal herbs, palms and rare, endangered plant species.
Adjacent to the botanical gardens is the spacious green campus of the University of Peradeniya scenically located on the banks of the Mahaweli River.
Kandy 's geography is dominated by the Mahaweli Ganga, Sri Lanka's longest river. The massive British-built, 118 metre-high Victoria Dam and hydro-power project of the Mahaweli Diversion Scheme, is one of Kandy's modern show pieces.
For the Golf lover, the 18-hole Victoria golf course at Rajawella near Kandy with views of the sweeping waters of the Victoria Reservoir, offers good facilities and temporary membership for visitors.
Shopping in Kandy is enjoyable and exciting, its boutiques, shops, craft centres, bazaars and street markets offer many tempting and exotic ware.
If you are visiting Kandy during July-August the Esala Perahera is definitely a must see. Termed as Asia's grandest pageant, this spectacular annual event is held to honour the Sacred Tooth Relic of the Buddha and to obtain blessings of the guardian deities of Sri Lanka. Held over a period of 10 days by torch and moon light in the streets of Kandy, this spectacular pageant is a parade of highland dancers, drummers, musicians, chieftains, dignitaries and acrobats in rich medieval costumes and scores of caparisoned elephants.
Things you can do
- Peradeniya Botanical Gardens
- Sri Dalada Maligawa (Palace of the Tooth Relic of Buddha)
- The Ceylon Tea Museum
- Kandy National Museum
- Hindu Shrines
- Kandyan Architecture
Wood Carvings From the Dalada Maligawa
Elephant Columns at the Royal Audience Hall in the Dalada Maligawa
Lankatillake Temple in Udunuwara
- Kandy Lake
The Kandy Lake offers a wonderful place for a stroll or a jog. The shady path surrounding the lake provides a view of the hills and the town. The spectacular lake was created in 1807 by the last Sinhalese King. It is situated by the side of the Temple of the tooth relic. The Malwatte temple, one of the two head temples of the Siyam Nikaya sect of Theravada Buddhism, is also located overlooking the lake. Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe, the last king of Kandy, decorated the lake with the "walakulu" (clouds) wall.
- The island
One of the prettiest objects of the lake is the island. It is decorated with palm trees and bamboo thickets. King Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe built a dam for the purpose of reaching the opposite side of the lake. Then as the dam was not sufficient for him, the King removed the soil from both the palace end and the Malwatte Vihare end, leaving the island behind. At first this island was supposed to be the bathing place of the Queen and the ladies of the court.
- Walking - There are many nice walks in and around Bandarawela and owing to the relatively quiet roads and the comfortable climate, walking can be very pleasurable and the perfect way to get to know the area. Among these walks, there are beautiful trails passing through the many tea estates in the area, where one can watch the tea pickers at work and admire the mountain scenery.
- Churches - There are many churches in and around the town and the Church of the Ascension situated near the recreation ground is particularly attractive, built of natural stone, it resembles a typical old English country church.
- Golf - A golf course is available to outsiders at the nearby military camp, Diyatalawa.
- Transport - Apart from buses, there is a train service taking you through some of the most attractive scenery in the world, Should you need a vehicle with a driver to take you around, we will be pleased to arrange a good reliable local driver. Advance notice will be required.
- Kataragama Devale at Embekke
This temple was also built in the 14th century to house an image of the God Skanda, the Kataragama deity. The entire wooden structure is carved with mythical and other figures. It lies in the Udunuwara division close to Daulagala about eight miles from Kandy.
The UNESCO has named the marvelous elaborate carvings on wooden pillars at Embekke to be the finest products of woodcarvings to be found in any part of the world.
- Udawattekele Sanctuary
Situated to the North of the City of Kandy, this reserve has deep forests with many endemic birds, butterflies and plants. Udawattakele also has a Buddhist meditation centre.
- Knuckles Mountain Range
Its name describes its outline. The Knuckles Range consists of the Knuckles massif, the Knuckles range and the Knuckles Peaks. This mountain range offers a wonderful place for hiking and nature tours. It also holds great fascination for geologists and naturalists.
- Sripada (Adam's Peak)
Sripada (sacred footprint) or Samanalakande (butterfly mountain) has been the object of worship and pilgrimage for centuries for persons of all major religions. The British referred to this mountain as Adam's Peak. Watching the dawn from Sripada is a rare experience. On clear days you can see the shadow of the peak cast on the surrounding forest canopy as the sun rises. The 'pilgrim season' begins on the poya (full moon monthly Buddhist holiday) day in December, and runs until the start of the April monsoon.
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