Kandy was the capital of the last kingdom of Sri Lanka before it was conquered by the English Colonists. Located in the center of Sri Lanka among the misty hills of the central province, Kandy is a magnet for visitors from all over the world.
There are various attractions in Kandy that appeal to many different kinds of travelers. We are here to highlight the main attractions, the main things to do in Kandy.
Visit the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic
The crown jewel of Kandy is the famed Sri Dalada Maligawa, also known as the Temple of the Tooth. ‘Maligawa’ literally translates to palace, and the temple is part of the palace complex. The complex houses the relic of the tooth of the Buddha and is a sacred site to Buddhists the world over. Visiting the maligawa, which 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.
Walk Around the Kandy Lake and Ramparts
The Kandy Lake is artificially constructed lake made during the period by Sri Wikrama Rajasinhe, the last king of Sri Lanka. It serves 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.
Explore the Peradeniya Botanical Gardens
The Peradeniya Botanical Gardens are Sri Lanka’s largest and most impressive garden that hosts over 2 million visitors a year. 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. The Botanical Gardens are known for its collection of orchids, so don’t miss out on them. If you’re feeling lazy, golf buggies can be rented to explore the gardens instead of by foot.
Roam in the Udawattakele Forest Reserve
This forest reserve was grown and maintained for the sole purpose of pleasuring the kings of Kandy. The wildlife sanctuary is home to several species of mammals, reptiles and an impressive fauna. Additionally, it houses several important Buddhist meditation hermitages. The park is particularly popular with bird watchers and is of great educational value. The Sri Lanka Forest Department has installed two offices in the reserve which display posters and stuffed animals and where visitors can get more information about the life of the park. Udawattakele is a celebration of the lush jungles of Sri Lanka and its tropical nature and is one of the best reasons to get out of the bustling city.
Climb up to the Bahiravakanda Vihara Buddha Statue
The Bahiravokanda Viharaya is situated on a hill overlooking the Kandy city. It is famous for the giant Buddha statue that looks over the city like a celestial deity. Visitors can climb to the top of the hill within an hour but should be aware of rising temperatures during noon. Once you have reached the peak, bahivara kanda, or devil’s hill, offers panoramic views of Kandy and its surrounding area. The statue itself can be seen from most places throughout the city and is particularly enchanting at night when it is bathed in light. Make sure to remove your shoes before entering the premises or join the devotees, who offer flowers or light oil lamps in reverence to the mighty Buddha.
Visit the Commonwealth Garrison Cemetery
This is a lesser-known landmark in Kandy that seldom people visit. The well maintained Commonwealth Cemetery serves as a memorial for the soldiers who died in the defense of Sri Lanka in WWII. The site is a relic of the country’s colonial history and a witness to the turbulent changes the country has undergone throughout the years. The peaceful atmosphere of this resting place stands in stark contrast to Kandy’s bustling streets. Walking among the tombstones and reading the information about the fallen heroes is a unique experience. The cemetery dates back as far as 1817 and also serves as the last resting place for several young and old people who made Kandy their home in the previous centuries. The melancholy atmosphere is worth the trip, and don’t forget to make a donation to keep the immaculate cemetery as spotless as it has remained throughout the years.