A charming, culturally vibrant city, Kandy is the capital of the Hill Country. It was the seat of government of the last Sinhalese kingdom, until it was taken over by the British in 1815. Today, it attracts tourists and pilgrims alike who come here to visit the Temple of the Tooth, the most sacred Buddhist shrine in Sri Lanka, and to experience the famous Esala Perahera. Easy to wander around, Kandy also has some interesting museums and markets to explore. There is a range of accommodation to choose from, with many of the town’s hotels set in the surrounding hills. Kandy also makes a great base for exploring the Knuckles Range and the outlying temples.
Temple of the Tooth
The Temple of the Tooth, or Sri DaladaMaligawa, houses Sri Lanka’s most important Buddhist relic, the Buddha’s tooth. Built in the 16th century, the original temple stood at the heart of the Royal Palace complex. The temple was plundered along with the palace when the Dutch attacked the city in 1765. The main shrine was originally constructed during the reign of Vimala Dahrma Suriya I (1590-1604); it was rebuilt by King Rajasinghe II (1634-1686) following the Dutch incursion. The palace was renovated in the 19th century by Sri WickramaRajasinghe, the last king of Kandy, who built the most and replaced the earlier entrances with a massive stone gateway.
Located in the heart of the city, this lake was created by the last king of the Kandyan kingdom, Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe, in the 19th century. The island in the center was used as the king’s pleasure house before the British converted it into an ammunition store after they conquered Kandy in 1815. The building on the south shore, opposite the Temple of the Tooth complex, was formerly a monk’s bath house; it is now a police station. Visitors can hire a boat for a tour across the water. Lone travellers are advised to avoid the eastern and after dark.
Kandy National Museum
On a small hill east of the Temple of the Tooth stands the Kandy National Museum, housed in a white building used to function as the Queen’s Palace. The exhibits in this museum depict life in Kandy before the arrival of the Europeans. Among the displays are weapons such as bows and arrows, knives and daggers as well as jewellery and traditional costumes. In addition, items of the day-to-day use such as jaggerymoulds with elephant designs, and areca nut cutters shaped like can be seen near a display of devil dance masks and wooden carvings. The museum is good place to take a closer look at ola-leaf manuscripts and to appreciate the skills of the crafts-man of the Kandyan kingdom.