Given the designation of the cultural capital of Sri Lanka, Kandy, then called Senkadagalapura and now called Maha Nuwara, was declared as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in the year 1988. During the years between 1489 to 1812 AD Kandy was known as the Medieval Royal City of the island. This large city lies on a plateau atop a mountain range which is well known for its tea plantations and bio diverse rainforests. Kandy was the last standing kingdom until the British managed to capture it in 1815. Because of its strategic placement Kandy is considered both a cultural as well as an administrative city, bustling with busy town goers as well as strolling tourists at any given time. With an agreeable climate that does not bend towards any extreme, Kandy acts as your gateway into the central highlands of Sri Lanka. Located 116km West of Colombo you have to drive past mountainous terrains and lovely lush green forests on either side to get here. But people do like to use the trains as a means of transport into the city as well. Even today the city does have a medieval air about it, with a constant stubborn mist clinging to the tips of the hills, and the colonial era Kandyan architecture still present throughout various building in the city. One of the main highlights of the city is the famed Dalada Maligawa or the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic. This impressive shrine built within the royal palace is home to the one and only surviving relic of Lord Buddha, a tooth (left canine), also known in Sinhala as the Danta Dahu. This shrine which reflects the compassion and non-violent nature of Buddhism, was ironically built by one of the most tyrannical and cruel kings to rule the kingdom, King Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe (1797-1815). This shrine holds as much importance to Buddhists not only in Sri Lanka, but all over the world as much as the Basilica of Saint Peter in Vatican. Located at the heart of the town, the temple is the central attraction of the city. Every Wednesday there is a sacred bathing of the tooth relic done using fragrant water, and this water which is thought to have healing powers is later distributed amongst the devotees who are present. Next to the Dalada Maligawa you have the Kiri Muhuda which is man-made lake built in 1807 by the torch bearers.
The Kandy Esala Perahara is something that everyone has heard of. One of the most grandest and oldest Buddhist festivals, it takes place every year during the month of Esala (between July and August) which is thought to be the month during the first teaching of Lord Buddha occurred, after he attained enlightenment. It’s a celebration that includes extravagantly decorated elephants, jugglers, dancers, fire breathers, musicians as well as hordes of devotees parading the streets, lasts for 10 days and is indeed a sight to behold. About 5km away from the center of the Kandy town you have the Peradeniya Botanical gardens, which is the largest botanical garden in the country, covering a land area of 147 acres, and it is said that approximately 2million people visit this garden every year. Located close to the Mahaweli River it is popular for its collection of orchids and is also home to more 4000 species of plants.
If you are looking to get adventurous and you want to spend some time in the wilderness, you will not be disappointed with the lush green forests of the Knuckles Range. The wilderness of the Knuckles Range is thought to be excellent for cycling, trekking and bird spotting. And for those of you who would love to try your hand at golf, Kandy is home to the amazing Victoria Golf Club, with is endless green slopes surrounded by the Knuckles Range. It offers you luxurious facilities complete with a restaurant, swimming pool, tennis court as well as luxurious villas.