What to See in Kandy
The rich heritage of the island country is obvious from the attractions of Kandy. While the old monarchy is represented by the palace and the manmade lake, the influence of the colonial rule is evident in its architecture. The botanical gardens pay testimony to the love the Europeans had for the greens and also provide a wonderful retreat to visitors today. It is indeed worth a visit.
Another popular spot, it is run by the Department of National Zoological Gardens and hosts orphaned and injured elephants. Feeding the baby pachyderms with the largest milk bottle you ever saw, is good fun. Another process is the elephant bathing in the river Mahaweli. There is a nominal entry fee, and a restaurant on the campus called Pinnalanda offers a basic lunch buffet with the usual curries and rice. An a la carte menu is also available.
The lake was created by the last king of the Kandyan Empire and is artificial. It is also the focal point of the city. In the local lingo it is called Kiri Muhuda and has an island in the centre as well. The end close to the temple of the tooth is very busy, but the far end is quiet and lovely for a walk in the evening. You can also get boats at the jetty and enjoy a boat ride. It is forbidden to swim in the lake as it is considered sacred. It is also a great place to view the Perahera from.
Kandy Lake Club and Cultural Centre
A visit here to see the dances of Sri Lanka is a must. You will be regaled during the hour-long performance by fire dancers, kolam dancers, and other traditional and classical dancers. The drumming is excellent and the plate-spinning trick will have you applauding. About a dozen dances are showcased; there is an entry fee, but it is not exorbitant. Timings vary according to the season so make sure you check before you get there.
This is the festival where the golden casket that contains Buddha’s tooth is paraded in a colourful and lively pageant. It is usually in the month of July or August based on when the festive date comes in the local calendar. The final night procession is a spectacular event replete with elephants, drummers and dancers. If you are looking for an impressive cultural experience in Sri Lanka you won’t find one better than this spectacular event.
The Palace of Kandy also houses the National Museum which has relics from both the Kandy Dynasty and the British Colonial times.
In fact the Temple of the Golden Tooth actually is part of this complex. The monarch was considered its guardian and protector. The museum also exhibits the history of the Dutch invasions and the final pact with the British.
Temple of the Golden Tooth
A major attraction in Kandy, Sri Dalada Maligawa, as it is known locally, has a tooth relic of the Lord Buddha. The tooth is put on public display once every six years.
The temple dates back to the 16th century and yes, the 1998 attack on the temple did see considerable damage done to the octagon, but repairs have been made. The tooth is housed in a casket called a Chedi which is made out of solid gold. It is a world heritage site.
The Royal Botanical Gardens
The Gardens are located about five km from the city centre to the west. They are the largest botanical gardens in the country. The location is more popularly known as Peradeniya and they are definitely worth a visit, even if you are not too much into horticulture.
It is historically interesting to note that the Commander of the allied forces during World War II in Southeast Asia was Lord Earl Mountbatten who had his headquarters in these very gardens.