Kandy is the tropical capital of the ancient Sinhalese kings, a city of great religious significance with a laid-back vibe which has been a favourite for visitors for centuries. Recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Kandy hosts an annual Perahera Festival processional that is considered the highlight of Sri Lanka’s cultural calendar.
Things to do in Kandy
Start your visit with a pilgrimage to The Temple of the Tooth, one of the most sacred sites in the Buddhist world. The tooth in question is a relic of the Buddha, encased in a golden casket. During the Perahera Festival, a copy is carried through the streets on the back of a caparisoned elephant, accompanied by priests, musicians and costumed dancers.
The Temple of the Tooth is part of The Royal Palace of Kandy, the last such palace to be built on the island. Here you will find The National Museum Kandy and its extensive collection of historical and cultural artefacts, mostly drawn from the Kandyan Kingdom and the period of British rule.
Spend an afternoon admiring the colourful displays at the Royal Botanical Garden at Peradeniya, widely regarded as one of the most important collections of tropical plants in Southeast Asia. Beautifully kept, the highlight here is the glasshouses filled with a vast collection of rare orchids.
Those with interest in military history can also visit The Royal Palace Park, where you’ll find a World War 2 Japanese field gun, captured by the British in Burma and given to the city by Lord Mountbatten.
Getting around Kandy
Buses are the best way to get around Kandy. It’s also possible to ride tuk-tuks and hired minivans, while the Intercity express train is not only convenient but provides a scenic way to get around.