Kandy is the last Capital of the Sinhalese Kings, who ceded power to the British in 1815 after many a battle with the western colonial forces, still retains much of its old world charm and traditions of the Sri Lankan life style.
129 Km away from Colombo and 465 metres above sea level, is Kandy, the charming hill capital, cultural centre of the island and a World Heritage City. Nestling amidst low hills, Kandy is still the home of the arts and crafts, music and dance and song which flourished under the patronage of the Kandyan Kings.
The city was born in the 14th century and became the capital of the Kandyan kingdom in the 16th century. . The Royal City fell to the British in 1815, when the last Kandyan King, Sri Wickrema Rajasinghe was captured.
For Buddhists, Kandy is the sacred city. The focal point is the Dalada Maligawa also known as the temple of the tooth, where the Sacred Tooth Relic of Lord Buddha is enshrined. There are many shrines and temples in and around Kandy, where you will see rare paintings, frescoes, wood and stone carvings.
The highlight of the year is the Kandy Esala Perahera, when a replica of the relic casket is taken in procession accompanied by exotically costumed drummers, dancers and about 80 – 100 caparisoned elephants during ten glittering nights in July/ August.
The beautiful city, surrounded by hills and valleys, rivers, lakes and cascading waterfalls, boasts of the Royal Botanical gardens at Peradeniya .
Kandy is an exciting place for shopping with souvenirs of wood, copper, silver, brass and bronze. Ceramics, lacquer work, handlooms, batiks, jewellery, rush and reed-ware too could be purchased.
Dalada Maligawa or Temple of the Tooth
Among the most picturesque cities in the island, the importance of Kandy is mainly due to the Dalada Maligawa which houses the Sacred Tooth Relic of the Buddha. Here visitors can observe the ancient traditions of drumming and sacred chanting in honour of the Tooth relic, being performed several times each day.
The present Temple was constructed mainly under the Kandyan Kings from 1687 to 1707, and 1747-82. It is an imposing structure, surrounded by a deep moat. One of the most spectacular sections of this temple; the Pattirippuwa or the Octagon, was added by king Sri Wickrema Rajasingha in the early 19th Century. He also built the Kandy lake.
Kandy Esala Perahera
Kandy is also the venue of the Esala Perahera, easily the most colorful pagent of Asia, held in July/August each year, in honour of the tooth Relic. As the pageantry of the Esala Perehera unfolds through ten nights each year, the city takes on the air of a torch-lit dreamland, complete with a hundred or more colorfully caparisoned elephants, drummers and dancers, and chieftains in the rare colorful trappings of the old kingdom.
The rock temple at Degaldoruwa, has beautiful Buddhist frescoes of the mid 18th Century.
Lankatilleke and Gadaladeniya Temples
These temples are unique examples of the Buddhist construction in brick and stone during the Kandyan period (14th C).
The shrine to a Hindu deity at Embekke is the best extant example of the wood carvings of the Kandyan period. Another temple well known for its frescoes is the one at Ranawana. The kandyan areas are where the crafts of the Sinhalese have been best kept alive.
Located in the suburbs of Kandy boasts of some 160 acres of tropical rainforest, a haven for flowering plants, birds, butterflies and monkeys. Very picturesque surrounded by wooded hills.
A visit to the Kandyan Art & Crafts Association situated around 100 m. from the Temple of the Tooth will be a regarding experience as you may observe skilled crafts people at work.
Peradeniya Botanical Gardens
Nereby Kandy, the Peradeniya Botanical Gardens is easily one of the best of its kind in the world. The many beautiful avenues will lead one to sections which provide a burst of topical colour. The great lawns highlight huge tropical trees, while you will be surprised at the variety of bamboo that can be found in one place.
The best known attraction of the Garden is the Orchid House, which has more than 300 varieties of exquisite orchids from the rare indigenous Foxtail and Vesak orchids, to many natural and hybrid species which have made this one of the best known orchid centers of the world. The spice Garden gives you a first hand introduction to the trees, plants and creepers that produce the special spices of Sri Lanka. The herbarium grows many of the plants used for the traditional Ayurvedic pharmacopoeia.
26 km. from Kandy in the Matale district along the drive to the ancient Cities via Kandy , rich verdant vegetation and a number of spice gardens to visit. It is an ancient rock temple of great significance in the history of Buddhism. The Buddhist cannon and its commentaries, which were till then handed down orally, were committed to writing for the first time at Aluvihare temple in 2c,B.C.