Best Places to Visit in Kandy
Feel blessed as you step in to one of the most sacred cities on the Island. Kandy being an ancient Kingdom still holds its pride along as it welcomes guests. Kandy which is located in the central province is also considered as the second largest city on the Island. City of Kandy beholds many historical beliefs and values passed on from generations and leads to many places of attractions in this regard. Surrounded by hills; city of Kandy is enriched with unmatched beauty and elegance.
Royal Botanical Gardens
The name ‘royal’ is implied because the history of these botanic gardens dates as far back as the 14th century where Royal Kings of the Sinhalese Kingdom kept their courts. A Temple was also built on this location but then destroyed during the British rule. The British then brought in several plants from around the island and implemented the Royal Botanical Gardens as a Kandy tourist attraction.
These gardens are located in Peradeniya, about five and a half kms from Kandy and are home to over 4000 species of plants visited by approximately two million tourists every year. Known for its unique collection of orchids, the Royal Gardens can easily be classified as one of the best of its kind. In addition to orchids, the botanic gardens also hold a variety of spices, medicinal plants and palm trees. The garden is about 147 hectares large and is currently managed by the Department of Agriculture.
The Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic
Also known as Sri Dalada Maligawa, is one of the most sacred Buddhist pilgrimage site in the world. This is a royal palace complex that preserves the left canine tooth relic of Lord Buddha. Built during the 17th century, this Temple is well preserved till today and visited by many thousands of devotees and tourists from around the world.
This shrine has always played an important role in politics because there is a belief that whoever is in possession of the relic is the one who holds the governance of the country. In 1987, a golden canopy was built over the main shrine and this made the Temple easily identifiable from far away. Due to the significance that this sacred relic is known for it is one of the best places to visit in Kandy and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Located in the heart of the city, the Kandy Lake is a man-made lake created by the last King of the Sinhalese Kingdom, in the year 1807. Also known as Kiri Muhuda or Sea of Milk, the Lake is protected against fisherman and is used for leisure activities such as boat riding. A stroll around the lake is an ideal evening activity which will also show you around the hustle bustle of the city of Kandy that has developed around the Lake. The best part to walk around is the area where the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic is located.
Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe was the King who built this lake by excavating paddy fields in an effort to beautify the Temple of the Tooth. Bordering most of the lake you will see a decorative clouds wall which was also built by the King but was left incomplete because the British force invaded and imprisoned the King. The triangular holes that you see in the wall were used to light oil lamps at night during those days.
This festival is a grand celebration which includes elegant costumes, traditional dances, jugglers, fire breathers and elephants dressed in exclusive clothing. The significance of this historic procession is to pay respect to the Sacred Tooth Relic that the city holds. If you are visiting Sri Lanka around July/August, be sure to schedule your stay in Kandy on nights when this procession is taking place.
The Esala Procession begins with the sanctifying of a young jackfruit tree and signifies blessings showered on the Kings and the people. Believed to be a mix of two separate, yet interconnected processions, the Esala Perahera initially began as a prayer to God to request rainfall.
After ten nights of continuous dance and music in traditional forms, the festival ends with a water cutting ceremony at the bank of the Mahaweli River. Monks of the Buddhist Clergy in Sri Lanka are responsible for the organizing of the event. Being one of the oldest and grandest Buddhist festival in the country, it is definitely a must see event.
Ceylon Tea Museum
If you are on a Sri Lankan tea tour, this is an essential stop on your list of places to visit in Kandy. Even if you are not, you have to know where the first successful tea cultivation was done in a land that exports tea on a grand scale. About 5km from Kandy city is the Hantane Tea Factory where the Ceylon Tea Museum is located.
Hantane is where the initial successful tea cultivation took place after the failure of coffee cultivation. The building in existence today is a modern version of the old one and was built in 1925. As you enter the tea factory, you will get a typical feel of a large, light and airy atmosphere. The ground floor demonstrates the process of tea manufacturing while the upper floors (previously used to whither freshly plucked tea) hold a library, some exhibits, a restaurant and an audio-visual presentation area.
The Knuckles Range is a mountain range, one of the loveliest Kandy tourist attractions, and can be accessed easily from Kandy. This range is as massive as 18512 hectares and is a trekker’s paradise because it consists of panoramic grasslands, rugged mountain peaks, calm rivers, and cascading waterfalls.
The name given to the mountain range is because of its shape: a series of recumbent folds that look like knuckles of a clenched fist when seen from several angles. Early british evaluators gave the mountains this name but the Sinhalese often refer to them as Dumbara Kanduvetiya – translated as mist-laden mountain range. Almost always enveloped in thick layers of cloud, the Knuckles Range is also known for its unique variety of flora and fauna that cannot be found anywhere else.
Kandyan Cultural Show
Cultural show is one of the most famous event / sight seing available for the foreigners in their visit to Sri Lanka. This spontaneous event upheld the Sri Lankan Folk-lore dance which prevailed from the history. It shows the uniqueness of the Sri Lankan dance performances and the drummers who are very unique to Sri Lanka. As the final event in the Cultural show, walking on fire is done with the everlasting faith towards the god.