"Some aspects of the art and architecture of Kandy still survive in the living form, illuminating for us in a way that literary descriptions and ruined monuments cannot do, the style and character of Sri Lankan civilisation. Seen from the hills above the lake this architectural complex gives us a brilliant miniature image of what the dead capitals of Anuradhapura, Sigiriya and Kotte must once have been..."
Nestled amidst verdant hills, interspersed by the Mahaweli Ganga (river) and the beautiful Kandy lake as a centre piece, Kandy is certainly the most picturesque city in the island and most visited. The last seat 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, crafts and the typical Sri Lankan way of life.
Dalada Maligawa or Temple of the Tooth
What brings sanctity to Kandy is the Dalada Maligawa which houses the Sacred Tooth Relic of the Buddha. The golden roofed temple is visited by locals and tourists bearing flowers and incense daily throughout the day and night. Here visitors can observe poojas (offerings) the ancient traditions of drumming and sacred chanting in honour of the Tooth Relic, being performed several times each day.
Kandy Esela Perahera
Kandy is also the venue of the Esela Perahera, easily the most colourful pageant of Asia, held in July/August each year, for ten days in honour of the Tooth Relic. As the pageantry of the Esela Perehera unfolds through ten nights each year, the city takes on the air of a torch-lit dreamland, complete with a hundred or more colourfully caparisoned elephants, drummers and dancers and chieftains in the rare colourful trappings of the old kingdom. A stunning spectacle of piety and grandeur!
Kandy Lake and Museum
After the Temple of the Tooth, the most famous landmark of Kandy is its lake, in the centre of the city. The old building at its edge near the Temple of the Tooth was the Queen’s Bath. On the other side of the Temple of the Tooth, housed in part of the former royal palace, is the Kandy Museum which houses excellent exhibits from the Kandyan period of Sri Lanka’s history.
The International Buddhist Museum
The International Buddhist Museum housed in a landmark building, built by the British over the former palace of King Wimaladharmasuriya will soon become the cynosure of attraction to visitors to Kandy. Established in the premises of Dalada Maligawa it provides the opportunity to study Buddhism worldwide. Contributions from 17 Buddhist countries made this grand lotus journey into Buddhist culture possible. Malwatte & Asgiriya Temples The city is the monastic centre of Buddhism with the two biggest monasteries – the Malwatte and Asgiriya temples located here. Around the city and environs are other Buddhist temples of unique character each different from the other.
Peradeniya Botanic Gardens
Nearby 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 tropical 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 centres 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.