KANDY 114 KM (71 Miles) From Colombo
For many, the ancient highland capital of Kandy is still the true heart of Sri Lanka, where the last Sri Lankan kings held out against European powers, protected by the natural defenses of their steep hills and dense tropical forests. Surrounded by cool, lush mountain scenery, Kandy is the gateway to a very different aspect of Sri Lanka, one which those visitors who restrict their stay to the country’s coastal resorts never see.
Kandy is very eminent among tourist for several reasons: It is home to the sacred tooth relic of the Buddha, Kandy national museum, Sri dalada museum, The Botanical Gardens Located in Peradeniya,Udawattekele Bird Sanctuary,Embekke Devale and it always has a special place when it comes to festivities such as the Esala Perahara.
Temple of the Tooth (Dalada Maligawa)
Overlooking the north Shore of Kandy Lake, in the Centre of town, the Temple of the Tooth is a place for pilgrimage for millions of devout Buddhists from all over Sri Lanka, and it’s regarded by Buddhist Sri Lankans as the treasury of their entire culture.
The tooth relic itself is claimed to have come to Sri Lanka some 1600 years ago, when the certain princess from southern India was brought it to Anuradhapura, which was then the most powerful kingdom in Sri Lanka. As kings and kingdoms rose and fell, it finally ended up in Kandy around AD1100. Over centuries, as Sinhalese came under increasing pressure from invasion, it became more and more symbolic of Sri Lankan freedom and independence. Dress modestly (no shorts or singlets) and leave your shoes at the entrance before joining the long line that shuffles through decorated halls and into darkened gilt-roofed relic chamber which is the temple’s holy of holies.
The full moon day of Esela(July/August) is the high point of ten nights of drumming, dancing and processions, with Kandyan dancers and drummers in traditional costume, chiefs in medieval court dresses and more than a hundred of elephants in colourful trappings and parading through the streets of Kandy, Sri Lanka’s hill capital, in a vivid re-enactment of life in the central highlands before the British conquest.
Kandy National Museum
Next to the Temple, this museum contains royal thrones, sceptres and sword, dating from 17th and 18th centuries. A former palace for the royal concubines, it was here that the Kandyan chiefs surrendered to the British in 1815. Open 0900- 1700 Sun -Thu.
Sri Dalada Museum
Positioned in the Aluth Maligawa wing of the temple complex, this museum houses documents, royal garments, and artifacts used in the daily Tooth Relic ceremonies, caskets, Buddha images, gem-studded gold and silver bracelets and necklaces, ancient flags, caved ivory tusks, and other royal and sacred relics. Open daily 0900 – 1700.
Royal Botanical Gardens
About 6km southwest of the town centre at Peradeniya on the Colombo highway, close to banks at Mahaweli Ganga, these gorgeous plants were first planted and laid out for King Kirthi Sri Rajasingha (1747-80) and cover some 60haof trees, lawns and flowering shrubs, including 20ha arboretum of more than 10,000 trees. Under British rule, the royal park became a botanical garden in 1821 and it’s the largest of Sri Lanka’s main three botanical gardens.
Udawattekele Bird Sanctuary
About 1km east of Trinity College, off Wewelpitiya Road, this is one of Sri Lanka’s more accessible bird sanctuaries, it is a stretch of wilderness only a stone’s throw from the city centre with towering forest giants and creepers giving shelter to bird species including Layard’s parakeet, Sri Lanka hanging parrot, yellow-fronted barbet, black capped bulbul, emerald dove, three species of kingfisher, chestnut headed be eater and Tickells’s blue flycatcher. It is also the home of macaque monkeys and vividly painted butterflies float across the path. Open daily 0800 – 1730.
About 6km southwest of Peradeniya and 3km is east from main road to Nuwara Eliya, around 13km from the centre of Kandy, this small Buddhist temple dates from the 14th century and is graced by wooden columns elaborately sculpted with birds, dancers, acrobats and wrestlers. It is open during daylight hours.
The Lankatilake Temple is predominantly a Hindu place of worship but also has Buddhist frescos, a Buddha image and stone elephant carvings. It is open during daylight hours only.
This is a mainly Buddhist temple with a Hindu shrine attached. It contains some interesting Buddha images and frescoes from the 14th century.
British Garrison Cemetery is a cemetery of British people who died in Sri Lanka. It is located in Kandy and it was established in 1817. It is not a difficult place to find, conveniently situated along a short drive uphill, adjoining the National Museum of Kandy. Today, around 195 graves have been identified. This is managed by the Trustees of St. Pauls Church and is open daily from 8 am to 6 pm.