Kandy is the famous city of Sinhala history, culture, religion and pageantry. The Kandyan Kingdom was the last independent state in Sri Lanka. It withstood the onslaught of three invading European armies for over two centuries. Kandy can be explored on foot, with the higher altitude making the climate conducive to long walks. The city is visually rich with its narrow streets lined with old buildings full of character, and crowded with people. The Municipal Market has colourful displays of fruit and vegetables, textiles and clothing. The Kandy Lake provides an attractive focal point to the town. Sacred City of Kandy has been declared as a World Heritage site by UNESCO.
The Temple of the Tooth
One of the eight world heritages sites in Sri Lanka, Kandy was awarded the world heritage status because of the temple. The temple holds the tooth relics of Lord Buddha and is a pilgrimage site for Buddhists all around the world. There are some beautiful paintings and wood carving if you are interested in Art. The temple is inside the palace complex so you can visit the Royal palace, the museum nearby and various other building in the palace complex. Monks of the two chapters of Malwatte and Asgiriya conduct daily ritual worship in the inner chamber of the temple, in annual rotation. They conduct these services three times a day at dawn, at noon and in the evening.
The latest institution added to the Dalada Shrine is the “Sri Dalada Museum”. Ever since the Tooth Relic shrine was established in Kandy, different grades of visitors and devotees, ranging from the Royalty and Heads of States to the poorest of the general public, have been offering various gifts to the Sacred Tooth Relic, and these were preciously protected in specially built store-rooms by the successive line of Diyawadana Nilames. The Dalada Museum is located on the first and the second floors of the new wing called the Aluth Maligawa. The display on the first floor consists of historical records from the time when the Tooth Relic was brought to Sri Lanka to the time of the British rule.
A nightlong ceremony to honour the God Kohomba became the focus of a style of dance perfected in Kandy under royal patronage. The religious performances require about 50 male dancers dressed in silver belts, beaded breastplates, anklets and headdresses jangling as they swirl and skip to the rhythm of 10 drums. Today, the Kandyan dances are often performed by women, and tend to emphasise the graceful rather than the acrobatic elements of the dance.
Built in 1807 by King Sri Vikrama Rajasinha of Sri Lanka, next to the Temple of the Tooth. Over the years it was reduced in size. It is a protected lake, with fishing banned. There are many legends and folklore regarding the lake. One such is that the small island at its center was used by the Kings helm for bathing and was connected to the palace by secret tunnel.
Peradeniya Botanical Garden
The Royal Botanical Garden in Peradeniya is located in close proximity to the city of Kandy in the Central Province of Sri Lanka. It is renowned for its collection of more than 300 varieties of Orchids, spices, medicinal plants and palms trees. The total land extent of the botanical gardens is 147 acres, 460 Meters above sea level with a 200 day annual rain fall, it is managed by the Division of National Botanic Gardens of the Department of Agriculture.
The origins of the Botanic Garden dates as far back as 1371 when King Wickramabahu III ascended the thrown and kept court at Peradeniya near Mahaweli river. This was followed by King Kirthi Sri and King Rajadhi Rajasinghe. A temple was built on this location by King Wimala Dhamma but it was destroyed by the British when they were given control over the Kandyan Kingdom. There after the ground work for a Botanical Garden were formed by Mr. Alexandar Moon in 1821.
The Gadaladeniya temple situated at Pilimatalawa on the Kandy-Colombo Road is built almost exclusively out of stone in 1344 by the Gampola King Wickramabahu, situated on a hilltop, commanding views of the surrounding countryside. The architecture is Dravidian. The entrance porch features large stone pillars, which support a roof of huge stone slabs. Within the vihara, an ancient stone and plaster image of the Buddha looks down upon milk rice pots that have collected food offerings for centuries. The 638 years Old jack wood doors still exhibit their original paintings.
Built on a rocky outcrop, this 13th century temple is reached by a long series of steps cut directly into the rock. A cruciform brick building in three storeys, the Lankathilaka Temple in Kandy has an exclusive architectural design. The temple is full of exquisite painted scenes of the lives of 24 former Buddhas and there is a colossal seated image of the Buddha. At the entrance of the building there are two huge pillars. Presently the pillars have broken down and reduced to a height of 58 ft. Initially, the height of these pillars was almost twice the existing one. In the shrine rooms of the Lankathilaka Viharaya, there is an intricate designing of stonework and also of wood for the four gods who are guarding the building. The outer walls of Lankathilaka Viharaya are adorned with sculpture which is very delicate in nature. The sculpture portrays diverse buildings of the Polonnaruwa period. There is a pillared “mandapaya” rite in front of the structure. It consists of 40 festooned pillars made purely out of stone.
Lankathilaka Viharaya has an exclusive architectural design. It is very much different from the other buildings of its era. As a result it attracts a number of tourists from different corners of the world.
Embekke Devalaya, Kandy comprises carved wooden pillars with engravings of swans, lions, bulls, elephants and other such animals. On these pillars you will often find motifs like leaves, flowers, soldiers, dancing women and even mermaids. There are a total of 128 carvings on these pillars. Most of these carvings are presumably the work of the ancient artisan, Devendra Mulachari. 16 wooden pillars adorn the entrance of the Embekke Devalaya in Kandy. The “digge” inside the Embekke Devalaya is 52 feet, 10 inches long and 25 feet, 9 inches wide. UNESCO has accredited the site as the abode of rare specimens of fine wooden carvings in the world.
Udawatta Kele Sanctuary
Udawattakele sanctuary in Kandy is recognized as the “Royal Forest Park” and has great connection with the Kings and Queens of Kandy. The history of this sanctuary can be traced back to the 2nd century AD at the time Kandy was governed by King Gajaba. Udawatta kele and the present day Kandy was wasteland during that period. A person named Senkada was the first one to consider that this region can be turned into area where people can live. King Wickramabahu III built his palace in the wet, evergreen forest close by. He gave a name to this forest known as “Udawasalawatta” which means the “upper front of the garden”. He maintained that this could be used only by the royal family. Udawasalawatta was appreciated for its beauty and peacefulness as well as for a huge bathing pond. During the reign of the Kings, the forest was the only place from where one could get firewood for the castle and for the daily needs of the people residing in the adjoining areas. As a result it led to the deforestation of “Udawasalawatta”.
It was only in the year 1856 the condition of the forest improved. At that time the government declared it to be a reserved forest. Presently the Forestry Department has put in a lot of effort in reforestation of “Udawasalawatta”, thus reviving its lost origin.
A number of paths which are romantically named entwine between the towering Nuga, Milla and Mahagony trees. Lady Horton’s Walk is one of the oldest of these pathways. One of the favorite spots for young couples is the Lover’s Walk that makes it way surrounding the central pond.
Another site that attracts visitors to the sanctuary is the Giant Pus Wela. It is a widespread, thick climber is about 200-300 years old and twists itself up into a canopy.
You can find deer, black napped hare, palm squirrels as well in this sanctuary. The Fishing cat, the second largest feline of Sri Lanka, often mistaken as a leopard cub in the rural region, can also be found within Udawatta kele sanctuary.
Hanthana is a range of mountains spread on the outskirts of Kandy from which many glorious rivulets and streams flow. One such stream flows past the village of Udaperadeniya and the University.