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Home » Destination » Kandy
   
About Kandy...  
     
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 by hills.

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 curiosity.

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.

Things to do...

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 conch shell.

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.

Places to eat...

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.

Shopping...

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 dumbara mats.

 

  

 
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