Kandy is located in the central highlands of Sri Lanka and is often known as the mid-point between Colombo and Nuwara Eliya. The city is approximately 3 and a half hours from the Bandaranaike International Airport. The city can be accessed via road or railway.
Kandy became the capital city of the island’s last independent kingdom in 1952, before falling to the Portuguese, Dutch and British invaders through the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. The sacred tooth relic was then moved to Kandy, as it was said that only the protector of the relic was deemed fit to rule the country. The sacred tooth has been held inside the Sri Dalada Maligawa since the 16th century.
Although not quite famous for retail therapy, Kandy has gained a number of boutiques and small stores selling clothes, gems, jewellery, tea and souvenirs. The newly opened Kandy City Centre is a mall of retail, dining and entertainment facilities – the first of its kind in the area.
Things to do in the Kandy
A UNESCO World Heritage Site located in the highlands of Sri Lanka, Kandy is shadowed by mountains and offers a range of things to do.
- Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic – Sri Lanka’s most revered temple, believed to hold the sacred tooth relic of Lord Buddha. It’s built in the same premises of the Royal Palace.
- Sri Dalada Museum – The museum is located within the temple grounds and displays a collection of gifts, souvenirs and historic artefacts.
- Kandy Lake – The lake bordering the temple is a man-made body of water, built by the king in 1807.
- Royal Palace of Kandy – Located north of the temple, the Royal Palace was built in 1357 and remained the residence of Kandyan monarchs until 1815.
- Peradeniya Royal Botanical Garden – Encompassing an area of 59 ha, this botanical gardens houses approximately 4,000 species of plants. The Royal Botanical Garden dates back to 1371.
- Udawattakele Forest Reserve – A preserved forest sanctuary located right above the Royal Palace, the Udawattakele Forest Reserve was once used solely by the royals of Kandy.
Best time to visit the Kandy
The best time to visit Kandy is from the months of December to May, as there’s less likely to be much rainfall. June to August is usually blessed with copious amounts of winds, while July and October brings about heavy showers.
Popular events in the Kandy
The historic and most sacred city on the island attracts a large number of locals and tourists alike. Here are some of the key events in Kandy that should not be missed.
- Kandy Perehera – A spectacular religious parade held every August. The perehera features hundreds of Kandyan dancers, musicians, chieftains and heavily adorned elephants performing along the streets, as a single elephant tusker carries the sacred tooth relic in an enclosed golden casket on his back.