Of the three ancient capitals of Sinhalese civilization, Kandy is the last one. Established in the 14th century, it served as the seat of power of Sri Lankan kings from the 15th century until 1815.
Today Kandy is the second-largest city of the island and often seen as the cultural capital of Sri Lanka, due to the fact that the most important religious object of the country is located here.
Kandy has a lot to offer to every visitor. With many places to visit and things to do it is one of the cities in which you can spend part or even the whole of your Sri Lankan vacation.
The city of Kandy is best known for the Sri Dalada Maligawa, or the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic. This temple is considered to be the holiest place of worship for Buddhists in Sri Lanka, as it is the home to the sacred relic of Buddha’s tooth.
Because of the historic and religious importance of this relic for the Sri Lankan nation, this temple is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Sri Dalada Maligawa is part of the Royal Palace Complex, of which only parts remain. One of the most visited buildings by tourists is the Magul Maduwa, Royal Audience Hall, where Kandyan kings of yore used to meet their ministers and conduct the daily tasks of governing the kingdom.
Another interesting place to visit is the Palle Vahala or Lower Palace. During the reign of Kandyan kings, it was used as quarters of the king’s harem. Today it is housing the National Museum of Kandy, and its collection of more than 5,000 thousand artifacts from the history of the Kandyan kingdom.
Part of the Royal Palace is also the International Buddhist Museum, dedicated to the history of Buddhism and its spread across the world.
Kandy is home to more than just the Temple of the Tooth. Among the most popular are three 14th-century temples. On top of the natural rock formation, called Panhalgala Rock, is a location of the ancient temple Lankatilaka Vihara which is half Hindu and half Buddhist temple.
This temple is widely considered as one of the most majestic examples of sacral architecture in Sri Lanka of the 14th century. The most popular attraction of this temple is the image house with its Kandyan-era wall paintings.
The second temple of these three is the Embekka Devalaya, a Hindu temple dedicated to the guardian deity of Sri Lanka, Kataragama deviyo, also called Murugan by Tamils.
This temple consists of three parts, the Sanctum of Garagha, the Dancing Hall, and the Drummers’ Hall. The most striking features of this temple are intricately carved wood pillars and ornaments of Drummers’ Hall.
The third temple is Gadaladeniya Vihara, a Buddhist temple which is considered to be one of the largest rock temples in Sri Lanka. The most striking feature of this temple is the central building which is wholly made out of carved granite rock and houses the gilded statues of seated Buddha.
Just outside of the city center of Kandy is the neighborhood of Peradeniya where a long time ago were located palace gardens of one of the first Kandyan kings. In their place, today are located largest and most visited botanical gardens in Sri Lanka.
Royal Botanic Gardens are home to a collection of more than 4,000 plant species of Sri Lanka and the rest of South Asia. Adjacent to it is the National Herbarium of Sri Lanka, an institution dedicated to the collection and conservation of the flora of the island.
The most popular among the visitors thing to do in Kandy is attending the Kandyan Dance Show. This spectacle showcases the traditional dances of Sri Lanka and traditional attires of the Kandyan era.
From Kandy to Ella runs the railway track which is widely considered as one of the most picturesque train rides in the world.
This railway snakes through lush green tea plantations, scenic towns and villages, mist-covered hills of Horton Plains National Park, and near enchanting waterfalls.
Kandy is one of the popular places serving as a base for hikers and trekkers alike, as it doesn’t lack popular treks in its vicinity. Right in the city, on the hillside above the Temple of the Tooth Relic is located Udawattakele Forest Reserve, which besides the trails is a very popular bird-watching spot.
Another very popular trekking location is the Knuckles Mountain Range. Higher parts of this range are isolated cloud forests that are the place of the highest biodiversity on the island, being home to more than a third of endemic plant species of Sri Lanka.
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