“The beauty of the plateau is embraced in the pristine greenery and hills. If you love the smell of the mist, the cottony clouds that seems to touch the far away sky or interested in listening to the cacophonic rain that pours wildly into the Kandy Lake on any given rainy day then be get ready to get amazed.”
Kandy, the hill capital of Sri Lanka is situated some 500 m above the sea level and around 115 km from the capital city, Colombo. The city boasts of its cultural and ancient legacy.
Read for the must visit places so that the next time you are in Kandy you know what not to miss!
Kandy Lake was created in 1807 by Sri Wickrama Rajasinha, the last ruler of the kingdom of Kandy. The island in the centre was used as Sri Wickrama Rajsinha’s personal harem, to which he crossed on a large work boat. Later the British used it as an ammunition store and added the fortress style parapet around the perimeter of the lake. On the south shore, in front of the Malwatte Vihara, there’s a circular enclosure which is the monk’s bath-house.
The Temple of the Sacred Tooth:
The golden-roofed temple (inscribed on the UNESCO’s world heritage site in 1988) has the scared tooth of Lord Buddha, venerated by the Buddhist and is considered to be the holiest shrines of Buddhist. Though you may not sight the real tooth that is saved in a casket beautifully, the casket is displayed twice a day for the visitors. The temple complex houses other temples and museum like Alut Maligawa, Audience hall, and world Buddhism museum. The time to see the beautifully decorated casket is around 6:30 pm. Buddhist Publication Society located to the east of the temple has a large bookshop where you can buy books about Buddhism and get information about places to meditate.
The Pinnewala Elephant Orphanage:
It is a dwelling place for about 70 wild Asian semi-tamed elephants situated in Pinnewala village. It is the largest herd of captive elephants in the world. The orphanage was established to provide shelter to the puerile elephants roaming in the forestland. You can go there by taxi or by bus. The journey towards the sanctuary is picturesque and the fresh breeze that doesn’t leave you even for a while will make you love the time till you reach the sanctuary. Also, you can visit the Millennium Elephant Foundation that is right next to Pinnewala Elephant Orphanage.
The Royal Botanical Garden in Peradeniya:
The botanical garden is ornamented with the number of flowers, with around 4000 species of plants including orchids, medicinal, spices and palms. The origin of the royal botanical garden goes as back as the 13th century when King Wickramabahu III ascended the throne, later on a temple was built here but was destroyed by the Britisher. Only in 1843 the garden rose to its glory with flowers from Kew Garden, Slave Island, & Colombo. The large banyan tree, the orchid house, the suspension bridge, and the bats are some of the main attractions.
New Ranweli Spice Garden:
This spice garden is located in a very close proximity to Peradeniya Royal Botanical Garden. Sri Lanka is known for the spices in the world and so the garden gives a sneak peek to learn about the Sri Lankan spices and herbs. See if you are able to close your eyes and guess the spice just by its flavor! Spices like Turmeric, Pepper Corns, Cloves, Cardamom, Nutmeg, Vanilla, Cinnamon, Cocoa, Aloe Vera, etc. are grown in their natural environment.
The gigantic Buddha statue is visible from any nook and corner of the city. The temple is associated with many myths and legends but the beautiful massive temple is stunning and needless to say the scene from top of the temple is nothing but lovely.
The Tea Museum, Hantane, Kandy:
The tea museum is housed in an ancient Tea Factory of Hantana. Run by the Sri Lanka Tea Board, the four floor building has the ancient machinery in the ground and second floor and a library equipped with audio-visual presentation facilities on the first floor. You can buy some of the finest tea from the sales outlet. The focus points of the museum are the exhibits on tea pioneers Thomas Lipton and James Taylor and various classic tea processing machinery. Make sure to treat yourself with a cup of a tea on the top floor.
Udawattakele Royal Forest Sanctuary:
Also called as the Royal Forest park of Kandy, the 257 acres huge park is located in the heart of the city on the hill-side of the temple of the tooth relic. It was a royal reserve and the pond at the entrance was the royal bathing ground. You can take a wonderful walk on well- maintained tracks through the dense jungle. The monkeys, deers and wild boar are few of the animals you can be greeted with. The forest is covered with huge canopy and sub canopy trees that won’t let the sunlight touch the ground. Some of the Tree species found in the forest are ‘Acronychia pedunculata’ (Ankenda), Adenanthera pavonina (Madatiya), Aleurites moluccana (Tel kekuna), Antidesma bunius (Karawala Kebella). Additionally there are monasteries and hermitage too in the forest. Don’t forget to carry the mosquito repellent and salt (loads of leeches there) with you.
The well-preserved temple is an example of the Sinhalese architecture. The huge rock where the temple was built is called as Panhangala Rock. There is rock cut steps that one needs to cross to reach the temple. The temple is built on a rock; there is a bow shaped passage that will lead to the Mandapam (hall) and through the Mandapam you are led into a floral designed decorated inner sanctum, the site where the colossal seating of Buddha is there. The walls and ceiling are adorned with paintings all over.
The Temple’s design resembles South Indian origin with a Devale attached to it. The main shrine room has a seated Buddha statue and the remains of some paintings of the Gampola period.
The Shrines of Kandy Gadaladeniya, Lankathilake temples and Embakke are connected by a very scenic footpath.
The other temples that you can visit are- Dodanwela Devale (shrine), Embakke Devale (shrine), Galmaduwa Vihara temple, Handagala Vihara temple, Lankatilaka Vihara, Medawala Vihara and Nalanda Gedige., Embekke Devalaya, Dodanwala Devalaya, Degaldoruwa, Hindagala Viharaya, Madawala Viharaya and Galmaduwa Viharaya.
Commonwealth War Cemetery:
The cemetery is located by the lakeside. Earlier called as the Pitakande Military Cemetery, it is one of the most beautiful and well-maintained war cemeteries in the world. There is one Commonwealth burial of the World War I and a further 196 Commonwealth burials of the World War II commemorated in the cemetery. In addition, there are four Foreign National and two non world war burials. The graves include 107 Britons, 35 East Africans, 26 Sri Lankans, 23 Indians, six Canadians, three Italians and one Frenchman. Take a walk around the grave and read the tombstone to experience a much different feeling. There are also9 graves of women and infants.
A small café cum restaurant that is housed in a 200 years old building just beside Dalada Malugawa, is a popular hangout place for the tourists. The place has seen a makeover in the recent years turning into a modern and chic style café. Do try the rice and curries, pastas, salad, juices and the chocolate cake.
This interesting museum is located next to the temple of tooth, once where the Royal place stood (established during Sri Wickrama Rajasingha reign and was then known as “Palle Vahala”). It is built according to the architectural features of Kandy. It houses royal regalia and reminders of pre-European Sinhalese life. One of the distinctive displays in the museum is of the copy of the 1815 agreement that handed over the Kandyan provinces to British rule. The museum, along with four devales and two monasteries make up one of Sri Lanka’s Cultural Triangle sites. The museum exhibits some 5000 objects that depict the cultural and historical riches of the Kandy.
The delightful restaurant serves dishes from India, Italy, Thailand and Sri Lanka with a selection of alcohol, is a place to see some black and white old pictures of Kandy. The power point presentation that runs in the background gives an insight of the Kandy’s history.
Nilambe meditation centre:
A Buddhist meditation retreat centre which offers a glimpse of a Buddhist lifestyle. Refresh yourself with the yoga, & meditation techniques and discussions.
The stadium is a private property of the Trinity College, and is usually a venue for an international test match in Sri Lanka. It is said to be one of the beautiful cricket match grounds in the world.
The short walk of Asgiri Maha Viharaya via Bahirawakande hill is an interesting and Knuckles mountain range (villages at the foothill of the mountain looks extremely scenic and pleasant) and its forest pathway are suitable for the trekking. It has natural pathway made by the forest department and the campsites.
The interlinked footpaths of cardamom planters, toddy tappers, tea plantation workers, farmers and villages that one can walk through to see the idyllic beauty.
The south of the Kandy has the beautiful rice field landscaping, that provide a chance of an adventurous trekking. You can find the terrace rice fields with farmers’ huts that are picture perfect. Also visit Arthur’s seat for a panoramic view of the Kandy city.
Festival in Kandy:
Esala Perahera is the most famous and oldest Buddhist festival in Kandy usually in July-August. The celebration also sees many elephant participants lavishly decorated. The procession is held annually to pay homage to the sacred tooth relics. There are traditional dances that you can see like fire-dances, whip-dances, Kandyan dances, etc. The traditional diya-kepeema marks the end of the festival, a ceremony held at Mahaweli River at Getambe in Kandy.