Historical records suggest that
Kandy was first established by the King Wickramabahu (1357-1374 CE) near the Watapuluwa area, north of the present city, and it was named Senkadagalapura at the time, although some scholars suggest the name ‘Katubulu Nuwara’ may also have been used. The origin of the more popular name for the city, Senkadagala, could have been from a number of sources. These include naming it after a brahmin named Senkanda who lived in a cave near the city, after a queen of King Wickramabahu named Senkanda or after a coloured stone named Senkadagala.
Temple of the Tooth (Sri Dalada Maligawa)
“The Sri Dalada Maligawa or the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic is a temple in the city of Kandy in Sri Lanka
. It was built within the royal palace complex which houses the only surviving relic of Buddha, a tooth, which is venerated by Buddhists. The relic has played an important role in the local politics since ancient times and it’s believed that whoever holds the relic holds the governance of the country, which caused the ancient kings to protect it with great effort. Kandy was the capital of the Sinhalese Kings from 1592 to 1815, fortified by the terrain of the mountains which was difficult to approach. The city is a world heritage site declared by UNESCO, partly due to the temple.
Dominating the town is Kandy Lake. A leisurely stroll around it, with a few stops on the lakeside seats, is a pleasant way to spend a few hours, although monoxide-spurting buses careening around the southern edge of the lake can mar the peace somewhat. The nicest part to walk along is the area around the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic. Due to some past cases of harassment, single women should not walk here alone after dark.
Commonwealth War Cemetery
Formerly known as Pitakande Military Cemetery, it was acquired originally by the military authorities, and was subsequently taken over by the Commission as a permanent war cemetery. Kandy is in central Sri Lanka
, 910 metres above sea-level. It is 121 kilometres north-east of Colombo, from which it is easily reached by road. From the Botanical Gardens
at Peridenya, take the road to Kandy. Just past the gardens, take a left turning at the roadside direction sign, down Lady Magdalene Drive. The Cemetery is approximately 1.5 kilometres along this road
Bahiravokanda Vihara Buddha Statue
“An amazing view point of the Kandy town, you can walk up the stairs to view the Buddha statue located up hill. The gigantic Buddha statue is about 88 feet in height. A good getaway from the busy streets of Kandy and pleasing panoramic view can be observed from here. The small gallery inside displays a collection of some magnificent pictures of Buddha’s life from baby to manhood. One of the best features is the souvenir shop where you can get goods cheaper than in the city.
There are four Kandyan devales to the gods who are followers of Buddha and protect Sri Lanka
. Three of the four devales are near the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic. The 14th-century Natha Devale is the oldest. It perches on a stone terrace with a fine vahalkada (solid panel of sculpture) gateway. Bodhi trees and dagobas stand in the devale grounds. Adjacent is the simple Pattini Devale , dedicated to the goddess of chastity. The Vishnu Devale on the other side of Raja Vidiya is reached by carved steps and features a drumming hall. The great Hindu god Vishnu is the guardian of Sri Lanka
, demonstrating the intermingling of Hinduism and Buddhism.
Visit Gadaladeniya, Lankathilaka and Embekke Temples
Visit the famous ‘architectural trinity’ of the Kandy district, located a turn off at Pilimathalawa along the Colombo-Kandy main road. Named Gadaladeniya, Lankathilaka and Embekke, the temples are built in the 14th Century and interesting legends circle their origins. They are the perfect venues for a visit if you happen to be a history buff.
Victoria Golf & Country Resort
“This resort is located 20km east of Kandy and is surrounded on three sides by the Victoria Reservoir, with the Knuckles Range
as a backdrop. It’s worth coming here for lunch at the clubhouse and to savour the views. Claimed to be the best golf course in the subcontinent, it’s a fairly challenging 18 holes.
Watch traditional dances
The sound of drums and conch shells fill the air around the Young Mens Buddhist Association everyday around 6pm or so as the auditorium comes alive with traditional Sri Lankan dances. A performance specially catered towards tourists, Kandyan dances among others are showcased in their most traditional form at times with some modern additions. Be prepared to pay an entrance fee and reserving your seat ahead of time would be a good idea.