A Complete Guide to Visiting Kandy

Kandy, once the capital of Sri Lanka, is now the country's second-largest city. There is the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, the most iconic temple in Sri Lanka, the lovely Kandy Lake, and the distinctive Kandy Dance. In addition, you can enjoy shopping at the Kandy market and fully experience local life. Kandy has also been called the city with the most Sri Lankan characteristics. When you get there, you notice that the city has a truly serene and serene vibe. One could even hear the rustling of leaves in the wind and the soft chirping of birds playing in the trees. A short distance from the center of the town, the plantations are scattered. In this journal, we will discuss these attractions worth visiting in Kandy and what makes them all special.

1. Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic

Buddha's tooth is considered a very important and valuable item in Sri Lanka. As a symbol of royal power, the site of the Buddha's tooth was the capital city. In the latter half of the 16th century, the Portuguese occupied Kandy and captured Buddha's tooth. The Portuguese advocated the destruction of Buddha's tooth in Goa, India. The Sinhalese, however, deceived them with replicas and saved the real Buddha's tooth at Kandy. Thus the tooth of Buddha is preserved to this day in the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic.

The temple is open from morning to night and the room where the tooth relic is stored is only opened during the three daily Puja rituals. You can attend the ritual and, if you are lucky, catch a glimpse of the tooth. According to locals, the tooth relic was displayed to the public on a gold flower-shaped plate. Because it is quite rare to see it on public display, what you see is a tiny pagoda-shaped gold box inlaid with precious stones. The box has seven levels, the smallest of which is reserved for the Buddha's tooth. Even if you are not a Buddhist, it is well worth coming here to admire the beautiful architecture and landscapes, and experience the charm of a different culture and history.

Temple of the Sacred Tooth RelicTemple of the Sacred Tooth Relic

2. Kandy National Museum

The museum was once the palace of a princess of the last dynasty. It is located in the innermost part of the Temple of Tooth. So after visiting the temple, remember to head to the inner part. If the museum is on the first leg of your tour, you will gain a deeper understanding of Sri Lanka's history later. The museum is a one-story building with an atrium surrounded by a large number of exhibits. The National Museum houses treasures and everyday household utensils from the Kandy dynasty. You can also find ancient costumes and crowns from the Kandy dance. Although the museum is fairly small, there are so many fascinating artifacts that you cannot tear yourself away. One more piece of advice for you as your tour: there are no video recordings in the National Museum or the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic. It's a nice tribute to their local customs and culture.

3. Royal Botanical Garden

This is one of Kandy's must-see attractions for visitors. The garden covers an area of 5.6 square kilometers. It features a vast collection of plants and trees, including some of the most exotic and rare species found in Sri Lanka. You will be amazed at the more than four thousand species of plants and wildlife here.

The Botanical Garden was established in 1821. Its other name, "Royal Garden", derives from the courtyard that King Parakrama Bahu III constructed for his concubines in the 14th century. Thus the remains of this palace are still preserved here and there in the garden. Just enjoy your time and fully appreciate the natural scenery.

Royal Botanical GardenRoyal Botanical Garden

4. Ceylon Tea Museum

A historic black tea factory has been converted into this museum. If you want to learn more about black tea, this museum is ideal. The Ceylon Tea Museum is a five-story structure located on the outskirts of Kandy. The first floor features tea brewing equipment, the second floor features ceramics and additional black tea-related objects, and the third floor showcases the history and people of Ceylon tea. After you arrive, you can shop at the different brand-name black tea shops on the fourth floor, and it's also a great idea to take a break at the cafe on the top floor. Looking down from the cafe, you can find tea gardens all around, with lovely scenic mountain views.

5. Kandy Lake

In the early 19th century, the last king of the Kandy dynasty spent twelve years building Kandy Lake. Following the King's surrender in 1875, the island floating in the middle of the lake was used as a storage facility for British troops. The remaining fence around the lake today serves as a reminder of the past.

Around the lake is a row of trees that have been planted along the promenade. This creates a romantic ambiance when strolling around the lake at sunset. Perhaps that's why locals and tourists would like to take a walk here. The scenery is picturesque, and the water in the lake is as clear as a mirror. Viewed from the lake, the Temple of Sacred Tooth Relics looks like a white lotus floating on the lake. Also, you can experience the joys of motorboat service. On the boat, you can find white turtles and fish released in the lake. Occasionally a water snake, which is considered a sacred animal in their country, can also be clearly seen wringing its slender body.

Kandy LakeKandy Lake

1. Shopping in the Kandy Municipal Central Market

To learn more about regional customs, the ideal approach is to visit local markets. The Kandy Municipal Central Market is housed in a brick-red, two-story edifice. Fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, spices, and other groceries are available on the ground floor. Meanwhile, Saris, gowns, clothing, and accessories are sold on the second floor. As the late afternoon comes, the ground floor of the building is bustling with locals and visitors. And you can spend some time getting a different harvest.

Among the many delectable dishes, Kotthu Rotti stands out as a must-try. The popular Sri Lankan dish consists of chopped roti bread stir-fried with a mix of vegetables, meat and spices. The sizzling sounds of dishes being prepared will whet your appetite, and the tantalizing flavors will leave you in awe. Another local favorite is samosas, a pastry snack filled with a variety of savory fillings such as potatoes, onions, peas and spices. These little pockets of joy are often deep-fried to a golden brown and served piping hot, making them the perfect snack to munch on while exploring the market. What's more, the fruit market is one of the famous markets. You can find a wide variety of fruits such as mangoes, pineapples and papayas, all fresh and juicy and ready to be savored. Do not hesitate to ask the vendors if you would like a bite, and they will be enthusiastic to help you.

2. Enjoying the Kandy Dances

You can watch an impressive Kandy cultural dance offered at the Kandy Lake Club, close to the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relics. The Kandy dance represents the traditional artistry of Sri Lanka. Centered on dances performed at the court during the Kandy Dynasty, it is a fusion of ethnic dances of Sri Lanka. The formal term for the Kandy Dances is Udarata Natum. They originally came from sacrifices in the woods, intending to cure disease. The dances each have a distinct meaning. Popular dances such as Magul Bera, Mayura Natuma, Pantheru Natuma, and others are frequently performed.

The Magul Bera is a ferocious drum performance. The drummers, all of them men, beat the long drum on their shoulders repeatedly and quickly. This is the customary performance that takes place at the ceremony's opening. Peacock Dance is another name for Mayura Natuma. The peacock symbolizes Sri Lanka's victory and serves as the god of war's mount. And the female dancers look stunning in their peacock outfits. The continuous somersault known as Pantheru Natuma is highly powerful. This dance represents the soldier in battle. That's the most thrilling male Kandy Dances. Come and find out which dance impressed you the most!

3. Kandy Festival of Perahera

If you are in Kandy during the months of July or August, don't miss the chance to witness the spectacular Esala Perahera festival. This event is not only the most important national festival in Sri Lanka but is also listed as a World Heritage site. The festival is held to honor the sacred tooth relic and pray for a good harvest and fortune in Sri Lanka. Attending the Esala Perahera is considered a must for every Sri Lankan, at least once in their lifetime.

The parade itself is an unforgettable experience that will leave you in awe. The vibrant colors, lively music, and intricate costumes of the performers are a sight to behold. The parade features a diverse range of participants, from traditional dancers to acrobats, fire-eaters, and, of course, majestic elephants adorned with beautiful ornaments and costumes. A leading elephant wears a gorgeous lantern costume and moves forward slowly, carrying a replica of the tooth relic. Everywhere the relic is carried, people stand and worship to show their respect. As a visitor, you can either stand along the street or find a seat in a second-floor cafe on an adjoining street, where you can watch the parade from start to finish. Every year, countless devotees and tourists from around the world flock to Kandy to immerse themselves in the joys of the festival.

Kandy's climate is influenced by the tropical monsoon, resulting in two distinct seasons each year: the rainy season and the dry season. We highly recommend visiting Kandy during the dry season, which runs from December to March and July to August. During the dry season, which is typically the peak tourist season, transportation options are more frequent and readily available, making it easier for visitors to get around. Additionally, Kandy hosts the Esala Perahera festival in July and August, providing a unique opportunity to experience local traditions and customs. The rainy season occurs from April to June and October to December, and the wet weather may deter some tourists during this time. With fewer crowds and lower discounts offered by hotels and attractions, visitors can save time and enjoy the attractions without interruption. Overall, whether you choose to visit during the rainy or dry season, Kandy has much to offer for travelers seeking a memorable and enjoyable experience.

Whether you are interested in exploring Kandy's cultural sites, natural beauty, or anything in between, our team can create an itinerary that suits your needs. Contact us at any time, and we will provide you with a customized itinerary within 24 hours. We are excitedly looking forward to your visit.

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