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Places of Interest

City of Kandy

The city of Kandy lies at an altitude of 488.6 meters (1629 feet) above sea level in the center of the island and surrounded by the ranges of mountains. It is still very much a focal point of Sri Lankan culture. It was the capitol of last generation of Sri Lanka`s kings until it fell in to the hands of British in 1815.

Kandy was originally known as Senkadagala pura after a hermit named Senkada who lived there. Many of Sinhalese people call it “Mahanuwara” meaning the "Great City”. But the name Kandy was derived from the Word Kanda, which means mountain. Due to it’s geographical location Kandy was not an easy target for the foreign invaders who could gain the control of coastal area of the island.

Thus Kandyan culture was abler to foster and maintain its own social structure, mode of living, Art & Architecture. The kings of Kandy ensured the safety and sovereignty of the hill capitol and it’s great culture until the British finally captured the city in 1815.

The royal palace in Senkadagala was built by King Vikramabahu the 3rd of Gampola on the advice of a Brahmin who selected the site as a lucky ground for a Capital city. The first king to ascended the throne of Senkadagala was Sena Sammata Wickramabahu.

Kandy’s proud heritage and splendid lakeside setting has long made it a favourite haunt for Sri Lanka travellers. This bustling hill-country capital is the natural gateway to a lush central region of tea plantations, gurgling streams and stirring history.

Kandy was made a world heritage site in 1988. It lies on a plain surrounded by towering hills, with evocative names such as Bible Rock, Camel Hill and Balloon Rock. It is never busier than during the annual Perahera, a fortnight’s festival in late July and August, when the town is enlivened by parading elephants, acrobats, drummers and dancers. This is one of the finest festivals in Asia and hotel space is limited months in advance.

The pink-painted Temple of the Tooth houses Sri Lanka’s most sacred religious relic – the tooth of the Buddha, hidden beneath six caskets of diminishing size – and it attracts a steady stream of visitors throughout the year. The national museum lies alongside.

The lake itself , built in 1807, forms an attractive centrepiece to the town; Peradiniya botanical gardens, just 6km outside the town,is the largest in Sri Lanka.

A large variety of decorative plants and other creepers that are used to produce the special spices of Sri Lanka are found in Peradeniya Botanical Garden. Huge tropical trees are found through the length and breath of the lawns. The orchid house in the garden is really worth a visit. There are more than three hundred varieties of superb orchids blooming in profusion. The spice garden in the park has trees and plants used for preparing traditional Ayurvedic medicine. The magnificence of the garden is heightened by the Mahaweli River which flows through its outer edge.

Udawattakelle Sanctuary, a forest reserve on the northern outskirts, and the Royal Palace Park are other areas where you can take a relaxing stroll, away from the bustle of the town.

Golfers should not miss the opportunity to sample Victoria Golf Club, which for its sweeping vistas alone deserves its fast-won reputation as one of the finest courses in Asia.

The Asgiriya International Stadium, located in the heart of Sri Lanka's rolling hill-country, is the home ground of Trinity College, one of the most prestigious schools in Sri Lanka. Given the lack of flat space in central Sri Lanka, the ground was carved straight out of the hill behind the pavilion before being levelled by ten feet, and so the end result is one of the most beautiful venues on earth.

About an hour from Kandy, on the Colombo road at Kegalle, lies the ever-popular Pinnewela elephant orphanage. This government-run centre was set up to save abandoned young elephants and train them to become working animals. The daily feeding and washing rituals offer a popular tourist attraction.

Temple of the Tooth and Esala Perahera

The significance of this great event is to invoke blessings of the gods to give the farmers rain to cultivate their crops. This ritual is performed by carrying the sacred tooth relic of the Budda through the city streets which is done with great ceremony.

The tooth relic was brought to Ceylon (Sri Lanka) in the year 310 AD and the first perehera was performed in Anuradhapura the first capital where the sacred relic was housed. Even as the capitals were shifted for security reasons due to invasions, the tooth relic went with it too and was much revered and always in the custody of the king.

Finally finding a permanent resting place in the hill capital of the last Sinhalese kindom Kandy, It lies in the “Dalada Maligawa” (Place of the Tooth Relic) which was built by king Wimaladharma suriya in the 16th century. This three-storey building erected solely for the purpose of housing. The Sacred Relic still stands and is the most visited and important temple of Sri Lanka.

The ritual of the Perahera (Esela Perahera) continues in Kandy with more and more people attending each year to watch majestic tusker proudly parade the streets of the ancient Sinhalese kingdom followed by over more than a hundred elephants with the custodians and other officials dressed in the traditional Sinhalese attire of chieftains riding them. The sound of blowing conch shells and whip cracking starts off the excitement or the approaching perahera. The beating of at least three types of traditional drums, the Kandyan dancers, Acrobats, and other artists that perform in the light of flame torches certainly would take you back in a time machine.