Kandy is a living monument
to long-lost royal might, a hill station
that outstrips the expectations of a traveller
or a history buff. Home to a Buddha's tooth
relic, this city is unique. A World Heritage
Site, it is one of Sri Lanka's most bewitching
cities with ancient temples like Dalada
Maligawa, Gadaladeniya Temple and Embekke
Templethat sit by Kandy Lake and are surrounded
Kandy piques your curiosity. Why is Kandy
Lake considered sacred if it was constructed
by the last Kandyan ruler, Wickrama Rajasinha?
If Buddha attained Nirvana in India, then
how did his tooth end up in Dalada Maligawa?
Seek out Kandyan legends to satiate your
Once you've had your fill of legends, go
hunting for gems, spices, antiques, ethnic
dumbara mats and lacquer wood painting.
Look over the antiques at Waruna Antiques,
spilling over with ancient Sri Lankan beads,
masks, statues and temple paintings.
Kandy is a popular summer destination and
caters to people with a wide range of interests,
and wildlife is but one of the many things
you can explore. Do not miss the procession
of the elephants from Pinnawala Elephant's
Orphanage to the nearby river for their
daily bath. People stand up on the raised
sidewalk to let the elephants pass for their
bath. It is amusing to watch the elephants
run eagerly for a bath. Just another one
of the pleasant surprises that Kandy loves
to throw your way!
Places to See...
Chants from the temples and commercial
activities at the City Centre and Main Market,
greet you in Kandy. Make a beeline to Dalada
Maligawa, significant for the Buddha tooth
that lies under a golden canopy. It is shown
to the public once in six years and at other
times, it lies hidden in a casket. The 14th
century temple trinity-Gadaladeniya Temple,
Embekke Temple and Lanka Tilaka Temple -
are examples of Indo-Lankan fusion architecture.
The stone carvings, murals, paintings and
sculptures that adorn the temple walls are
a sight to behold. It is common to see the
unusual flowers of the cannonball trees.
Buddha is believed to have passed away under
a cannonball tree by some people. Cannonball
fruits are so heavy that they might actually
kill you if they fall on your head.
Kandy Lake lies at the foot of these temples.
Fishing and swimming are forbidden here.
Cranes, Cormorants, Pelicans and turtles
crowd the lake. A walk around the Kandy
Lake shore in the evening is a favourite
pastime. Sit on a bench put on the bank
and watch the sunset. Enjoy the mysterious
fragrance wafting from the hills behind.
Catch a tuk tuk to Bahirawakanda Temple.
It has a huge Buddha statue that can be
viewed from any point in Kandy. It used
to be a gnome temple with a history of human
sacrifice. The Bahirawa Mountain is also
good for a trek. Swap the outdoors for the
splendour of Kandyan royal history at the
old Royal Palace. Priceless weaponry, paintings
and carved figures of the Kandyan era are
displayed here. The Royal Botanical Gardens
has treasures of a different kind. There
are many varieties of orchids including
the extraordinary Blue Vanda orchid. As
you trod along shrubs and trees in Kandy,
pause to admire the queer Tacca or bat flowers.
Immerse yourself in vivid
Kandyan culture, lifestyles, traditions
and art forms. Kandy transports you to a
different world with dances like Pantheru,
Raban, Ves, Udekki and Naiyadi. According
to a Sinhalese legend, all these dances
originated from a magic ritual which broke
the bewitchment put on the king by a dark
sorceress. You can watch a cultural show
at the Kandyan Arts Association. The artists
are elaborately dressed in bright colour
costumes and metallic headdresses, often
accompanied by a beraya (cylindrical drum)
player. Some of the gestures and movements
are similar to Indian dances. Shows are
often preceded by the blowing of an ornate
Rejuvenate yourself at the Ayurvedic treatment
centre at Ammaya Hills. They specialize
in body oil massage and steam bath. A facial
with sandalwood will leave you glowing.
The ambience is out of the world. You can
relax with a drink by the pool.
A trip to Helga's Folly Guest
House in Kandy is a strange experience.
The eccentric house is furnished like a
miniature palace with beanbags, plush cushions,
elaborate carpets and huge chandeliers.
Stuffed animal heads are mounted on walls.
Helga's imagination rules supreme.
Kandyan food culture has something
for everyone. Bursting with strange spices,
and flavours it works up your appetite.
Its many restaurants serve unusual dishes
likeKoolay, prepared from several leftover
curries and boiled rice.
White House Restaurant on Devon Street provides
Chinese food and Kandyan snacks like Samosas
(a fried pastry) and Vadai (fritters). Lyon
Cafe down Peradeniya Road is famous for
its Sino-Sinhalese Lyon Special, a simple
meal of rice with meat and boiled eggs.
Most Kandyans love a plate of rice and curry
and have it thrice a day.
Local people like a plate
of papaya garnished with lime juice for
breakfast. Sweet meats are a particular
favourite. Other Kandyan sweet dishes are
Kavun, Undu Wal, Aluwa, Aggala, Kokis and
Dodol. Coconut milk is used in almost every
dish, yet the food is spicy. Hotel Devon
and Olde Empire Hotel in the town centre
are favourites for ethnic Kandyan food.
Lunu Miris, a mix of chilli flakes and salt,
is eaten with most of the native food.
Lumprais and Kiribath (coconut-milk
rice) are two recommended rice based dishes,
served at most restaurants or guest houses.
Nobody leaves Kandy without trying some
delicious Lumprais. Rice, curry and meat
balls are baked together in a banana leaf.
Kandy is essentially a market
town. Take home a few curios or ethnic trinkets
after a good haggle. There are brass sculptures
of Buddha and Hindu gods. Among spices,
vanilla spice is in demand. There are lots
of vendors outside the temple complex near
the Kandy Lake. The entire town seems to
be full of street sellers selling snacks,
books on Buddhism, ice candies, tea, T-shirts
with mythological figures, and paintings
of Kandyan landscapes.
A gem factory and a batik
factory perched on top of the Mount are
quite popular. You will see a variety of
gems and semi precious stones mined in Sri
Lanka that can be bought for a reasonable
price after a good bargain. The batik factory
use wax paint and create ethnic designs
on fabrics. It turns out ethnic table linen,
table mats, bed sheets and wall hangings
with unusual and trendy patterns.
Kandyan Arts and Crafts are
irresistible to tourists. Shop at Kundasale
where you can buy directly from the manufacturers
or at Kalapura which is called Craftsmen's
Village. This is where you get the ethnic