Kandy is the second largest city in Sri Lanka and the gateway to the Central Highlands of Sri Lanka. Lying in the midst of hills, a lake, river, tea plantations and spice gardens, Kandy is one of the most scenic cities in Sri Lanka. Not only is it gorgeous – it also has significant religious, cultural and historical value and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Kandy was the last capital of the ancient Sinhala kingdom and the final stronghold against colonial rule. It is also one of the most venerable places for Buddhists worldwide, who pay homage to the impressive Temple of the Tooth (Sri DaladaMaligawa) that enshrines a relic of Lord Buddha’s tooth. The temple is located in the royal palace complex of Kandy and is adjacent to the Kandy Lake – an artificial lake built by a king. Every July/August, artefacts from the temple are paraded around the city in a colourful festival called the EsalaPerahera. Those who aren’t around for the festival – do not fear. You can watch the famous traditional Kandyan dancers in action in the evenings at the Kandy Cultural Show, which runs for more than an hour.
Another highlight of Kandy is the delightful Royal Botanical Gardens in Peradeniya, which is styled on London’s Royal Gardens in Kew. These gardens are truly magnificent – they are the largest in the island and the finest in Asia. The elephant orphanage at Pinnawela is a must visit attraction – you can feed elephants and watch them take a river bath here. Other interesting excursions from Kandy include a visit to Dambana ‘Veddha’ Village, where you can get firsthand experience of the life of the indigenous people of Sri Lanka and trekking opportunities at Knuckles Range, which has great scenic views of the surrounding hills.
Kandy has a range of accommodation options to suit all needs, from large deluxe hotels such as Cinnamon Citadel and Mahaweli Reach to boutique hotels such as Kandy House, Theva and Villa Rosa.