Kandy, the cultural capital of the country, is located practically in the center of Sri Lanka and was once the homeland of the ancient kings and queens of the island. As it was not conquered by the British until 1815, the city continues to proudly display its rich history and heritage, with a multitude of magnificent palaces and temples dotted around the city. Of these, the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic is arguably the most impressive tourist attraction and is one of the holiest Buddhist places on Earth.
Set amidst rolling hills covered with lush forests, Kandy is centered around a beautiful lake of the same name. Although the landscape of Kandy and its surroundings is spectacular, the city itself is also a good sight, as the beautiful architecture of Kandy coexists with buildings from the colonial era.
Once a year, the city hosts the magnificent Esala Perahera festival; It truly is one of the best things to do in Kandy as its rich history and culture comes to life before your eyes.
1. Temple of the Tooth
One of the holiest places in all of Sri Lanka, the Temple of the Tooth is home to one of Buddhism’s most revered relics – a tooth of the Buddha himself. The resplendent temple with the golden roof is a fitting place for such an important relic. Although it cannot be seen on its own, the ornate gold casket it is encased in is already an awe-inspiring sight.
The atmosphere of reverence makes the temple a special place to visit, and rituals are performed there three times a day. Although the tooth is believed to have arrived on the island in the 3rd century, the precious temple and sanctuary was built several centuries later. The Temple of the Tooth Relic, part of the Royal Palace, is the most important and popular place in the city, and should not be lost sight of when exploring the many charms of Kandy.
2. British Garrison Cemetery
Nestled on the outskirts of the Udawattakele Forest Reserve, overlooking Kandy Lake, the British Garrison Cemetery continues to be carefully maintained. Its well-maintained grounds are dotted with graves, tombstones and small obelisks. Used between 1817 and 1873, the British dead were buried here, many of whom, men, women and children, succumbed to cholera or malaria.
Despite its rather dismal atmosphere, the cemetery is in a very beautiful location and it is worth stopping by to learn about the colonial past of the city and the country.
3. Udawattakele Forest Reserve
Covering the hill overlooking the Royal Palace of Kandy and the Temple of the Tooth Relic, it is in Udawattakele that the kings and queens of yesteryear used to stroll and immerse themselves in nature. Converted into a forest reserve, the park is home to an abundance of wonderful flora and fauna, with a series of beautiful trails and trails winding through dense undergrowth.
In addition to the brightly colored birds that come to the rendezvous, every now and then you may see pangolins, macaques and civets hidden among the foliage. Popular with locals and tourists alike, the enchanting nature and breathtaking scenery of Udawattakele Forest Reserve make it a wonderful place to visit.
4. World Buddhist Museum
Located in the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic complex, this fantastic museum documents the spread and history of Buddhism around the world. Housed in the city’s former Supreme Court building, dating back to the Victorian era, its extensive collection includes many interesting photos and exhibits, as well as models, statues and paintings.
They tell the story of the Buddha, as well as the different belief systems and forms of worship in countries as diverse as India, Japan and Afghanistan. The World Buddhism Museum and its interesting and informative exhibits are well worth a visit, which will help you better understand and appreciate the incredible temple to which it is linked.
5. Sri Maha Bodhi Viharaya
Sri Maha Bodhi Viharaya Temple, home to one of the largest and most beautiful Buddha statues in Sri Lanka, is one of Kandy’s most popular tourist attractions. Set amidst the forested hills just west of the city center, the temple’s landscaped setting makes it the perfect place if you want to escape the hustle and bustle of Kandy for a little while.
Standing over 26 meters tall, the dazzling white statue represents the Buddha in a meditative posture and is the undisputed star of the show. The Bahiravokanda Vihara Buddha Statue, one of Kandy’s most photographed landmarks, stands atop a long staircase and can be seen hanging his head above the surrounding treetops from many points in the city .
6. New Ranweli Spice Garden
Sri Lanka is famous for its spices, so it is worth going to New Ranweli Spice Garden to smell, taste and learn all about the amazing plants that have had such a profound impact on the history of the island. Located in a very quiet and pleasant location on the outskirts of Kandy, it is a garden that you can walk around, with the smell of various spices floating in the air.
As well as learning how cocoa, peppercorns, and vanilla are grown, you can try these tasty spices or buy them at the store to take home.
7. Ceylon Tea Museum
The Ceylon Tea Museum, another of the country’s most important products, will take you on a fascinating journey through the history of Sri Lankan tea. Housed in the Hanthana Tea Factory, built in 1925, the museum has many interesting exhibits on the cultivation of tea plants, the machines and utensils used for their harvest and the famous tea pioneers.
After learning all there is to know about the process and its history, you can try your hand at local herbal teas in its charming little tea room.
8. Church of San Pablo
Built by the British between 1843 and 1852, San Pablo Church was used at the time by colonial troops stationed nearby. Its rust-red crenellated tower rises dramatically in the sky, imposing and impregnable at the same time. It looks more like part of a castle than a church.
Although its interior is quite austere, there are beautiful scenes from the Bible on the walls, as well as beautiful stained glass windows. Neo-Gothic in style, the Garrison Church, as it is often called, is one of the most recognizable remains of British colonial rule in the city and is located right in the center.
9. Feast of Perahera
The festival of teeth (as Esala Perahera is also known) is a phenomenal event that takes place every July or August and is a must-see if you are in town. For about two weeks, a whole series of processions and parades take place. They pay homage to the Sacred Tooth Relic for which the city is so famous.
With tons of cultural dances and incredible fire shows, as well as parades of elephants dressed in religious clothing, the Perahera Festival promises to be unlike anything you’ve seen before.
10. Royal Palace of Kandy
Now home to the glittering Kandy National Museum, the Royal Palace is the site of ancient Sinhalese monarchs until the British conquered the kingdom in 1815. The palace complex, dating from 1634, features magnificent Kandian architecture , with many impressive pavilions, halls and temples scattered throughout its grounds.
In addition to the incredible buildings, there are many fantastic artifacts and exhibits dating from both Kandian and Colonial times. Located between the Udawattakele Forest Reserve and Kandy Lake, with the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic right next to it, the Kandy Royal Palace is one of the best places to learn about culture, history and heritage. captivating country.
11. Lankatilaka temple
Located just a half-hour drive southwest of the city, Lankatilaka Temple is home to absolutely brilliant Sinhala architecture and artwork and is worth a visit if the opportunity arises. Built on a natural rock in the 14th century, the temple’s shiny white walls are beautifully embellished and adorned with statues and bas-reliefs.
The interior is equally captivating, with paintings and sculptures from the Kandyan period covering the walls and ceiling. The splendid three-story Lankatilaka Temple is one of the finest examples of architecture from the Gampola era.
12. 6. Kandy Lake
Located in the heart of the city, Lake Kandy is man-made and was created in 1807 by its then ruler Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe. Surrounded by trees and with the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic on its banks, the lake offers a very beautiful picture and is an ideal place for a walk.
Many myths and legends revolve around the lake, and the small island at its center is said to be linked to the Royal Palace by means of an underwater tunnel. According to the story, the king and his harem used it when they went to bathe in the lake.