Your travel guide for Sri Lanka

Surrounded by mountains, Kandy is Sri Lanka's second-largest city. It is also known as the 'hill capital' and has been a prominent city throughout the country's long history. It is of tremendous cultural, religious, and historical significance and is home to many ancient temples and shrines. In this travel guide, we'll walk through the top things you should do in Kandy.

1. Visit the Temple of the Tooth Relic

The Temple of the Tooth Relic is known as the 'heart of Sri Lanka' and is one of the most sacred Buddhist shrines in the world. It is believed that the tooth of Lord Buddha is enshrined in the temple and is considered a powerful symbol of the Buddha's spiritual power. The temple is the most significant structure in Kandy. It is an ideal place to explore the spiritual and religious background of Sri Lanka.

In addition to the sacred tooth relic, the temple complex also houses several other temples, shrines, and museums, each showcasing a unique aspect of Sri Lankan history and culture. You can take part in the daily puja ceremonies or simply admire the beautiful architecture and intricate wood carvings.

2. Explore Kandy Lake:

Located in the center of the city, Kandy Lake is a man-made lake that offers beautiful views. It's a great place to go for a leisurely stroll. The lake is surrounded by towering trees and is a popular tourist spot. You can take a boat ride and get a new perspective of the city, relax on the shore, or enjoy the peaceful atmosphere.

The lake's serene environment also attracts various bird species, providing excellent bird-watching opportunities. In the evenings, the lake is illuminated with colorful lights, creating a romantic and enchanting atmosphere perfect for couples or those looking for a quiet escape from the bustling city.

3. Experience the Kandy Esala Perehera

The Kandy Esala Perehera is an annual Buddhist festival held in Kandy in July and August. It is a colorful and vibrant procession featuring traditional dancers, drummers, and elephants. This unique experience is the most important religious event in the country. You can see the perehera at night when the streets are lit with colorful lights and lanterns.

The festival also features fire dancers, acrobats, and musicians, creating a mesmerizing spectacle that you won't want to miss. To get the best view of the procession, arrive early and secure a spot along the parade route or reserve a seat at one of the designated viewing areas.

4. Visit the Peradeniya Royal Botanical Garden

Located just outside of Kandy, the Royal Botanical Garden in Peradeniya is a beautiful and peaceful destination. The gardens are home to many plants and flowers, especially an extensive collection of orchids. You can stroll through the gardens, relax in the shade of the trees, or take a tour to learn about the different plants and flowers.

The botanical garden also features a palm avenue, a spice garden, and a beautiful suspension bridge that offers stunning views of the lush surroundings. Additionally, the garden is home to several species of birds and butterflies, making it a great spot for nature enthusiasts and photographers.

5. Visit the Bahirawakanda Temple

The Bahirawakanda Temple, with its panoramic view of the city, is an excellent spot for sunset viewing. The temple is on a hill just outside the city center, and visitors can take a short hike to the top. The temple also houses a large Buddha statue visible from many parts of the city. The statue stands 88 feet tall and is one of the most significant attractions in Kandy.

Visitors can also explore the temple's peaceful and tranquil atmosphere, adorned with intricate murals and statues depicting the life of Buddha. The Bahirawakanda Temple offers a serene space for reflection and meditation, making it an ideal destination for those seeking a spiritual experience.

6. Visit the Kandy market

The Kandy market is a great place to eat local food and buy souvenirs. You can find various items for sale, including traditional clothing, jewelry, spices, and handicrafts. The market is also a great place to try local delicacies such as roti, hoppers, and traditional Sri Lankan curries.

Exploring the bustling market will give you a taste of the vibrant local culture and an opportunity to interact with friendly vendors who are more than willing to share their knowledge about their products and the region's traditions.

7. Visit the Udawattekele Sanctuary

The Udawattekele Sanctuary is a nature reserve that is home to a wide variety of bird species. You can go on a guided tour of the sanctuary and see many species of birds, such as the Sri Lanka Blue Magpie, the Sri Lanka Junglefowl, and the Sri Lanka Hanging Parrot. The sanctuary is a fantastic place for nature enthusiasts and bird watchers to explore and take in the natural beauty of Kandy.

In addition to the birdlife, the sanctuary also boasts a rich diversity of flora and fauna, including deer, monkeys, and reptiles. With numerous walking trails, visitors can easily spend hours exploring the lush greenery and enjoying the tranquility of this urban sanctuary.

8. Take a train ride from Kandy to Ella

The train ride from Kandy to Ella is among the most scenic in the world, passing through lush green tea plantations and stunning mountain views. The train journey takes around 7 hours and is an ideal way to see the beautiful countryside of Sri Lanka. You can travel first class for a more comfortable ride with air conditioning. However, it is best to travel in second class, where you will be greeted by the cool, fresh air of the passing highlands.

The journey offers numerous photo opportunities, with dramatic landscapes, local villages, and tea pickers working in the fields. Be sure to book your tickets in advance, as this popular route can fill up quickly during peak travel seasons.

9. Visit the Ceylon Tea Museum

The Ceylon Tea Museum is situated in the picturesque Hanthana tea plantation, just a short drive from Kandy. The museum is housed in a former tea factory and provides a fascinating insight into the history and production of Ceylon tea. You can learn about the tea-making process, see the old machinery used in the factory, and even taste some of the finest Ceylon tea. The museum also offers guided tours, and the knowledgeable guides will share the story of how tea became an essential part of Sri Lankan culture and economy.

10. Visit the Lankatilaka Temple

The Lankatilaka Temple, situated around 15 km from Kandy, is an ancient Buddhist temple dating back to the 14th century. The temple, built on a rock, features a unique architectural style that combines Sinhalese and South Indian influences. The temple houses beautiful murals, intricate wood carvings, and a large reclining Buddha statue. You can explore the temple grounds and soak in the peaceful atmosphere while admiring the stunning views of the surrounding hills.

Kandy, with its rich history and unique attractions, is a must-visit destination for any traveler in Sri Lanka. From the sacred Temple of the Tooth Relic all the way to the breathtaking views of Bahirawakanda Temple and the vibrant Esala Perahera, Kandy offers a diverse range of experiences that cater to all interests. So, whether you're a history buff, a nature lover, or simply looking for an unforgettable adventure, be sure to add this stunning city to your Sri Lankan itinerary!

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