After Colombo, if any city that totally mesmerized me in Sri Lanka was Kandy. Dotted with interesting places to see here and there, you’d see Buddhist temples and ancient relics that represent its former identity as the capital of the ancient kings of this land. From the Tooth of Buddha to some esthetical gardens and beyond, Kandy is the place that had modern architecture build around the historic religious and cultural centers.
I did 7 of these things out of 8. The festival in July or August must be an interesting event to see.
8 Things to Do in Kandy, Sri Lanka
1. Visit the Buddhist Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic
As the name suggests, the temple that is situated in the palace complex in Kandy is believed to have a tooth of Buddha. However, tourists and worshippers would be disappointed that they can’t really see the revered “sacred tooth” itself. They kept it in a golden box inside the center of the pavilion. Everyday, they do rituals which is interesting to see.
2. Take a calm respite at Kandy Lake
Constructed by Wikrama Rajasinhe, the last king of Sri Lanka, the Kandy Lake offers a peaceful respite from the bustle of the city. Go here to stroll along the banks and revere one of the most sacred lakes in the city. Stare at its water and you might find the answer as to why it has the moniker: Milky Ocean.
3. Smell freshness at the Peradeniya Royal Botanical Garden
Sri Lanka has served as a magnet for spice traders for some 2000 years. Since it has an ideal climate for their growth, there are many spice gardens around its cities. Kandy particularly has the major share. The Peradeniya Royal Botanical Garden is one of the many places where you’d have the luxury of smelling from cloves, cinnamon, to pepper and cardamom. If someone back home fancies spices, these might be good as souvenirs.
4. Dalada Maligawa Museum
I haven’t been to any museum that houses the relics of Buddhism in a timeline, efficiently laid out to let the viewer learn about the origin of the religion and its spread across the globe. It was in this museum that I got under the skin of the religion practiced in Sri Lanka and around the world and see its evolution as times went by.
5. Climb the long stairs towards Bahiravokanda Vihara Buddha Statue
Just like Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro, maybe a little not like it, the Bahiravokanda Vihara Buddha Statue overlooks the city from a hill. However, to reach that, you’d have to literally hike through the stairs on the hill.
6. Marvel at the traditional Kandyan Dance Performance
Every day from 5 to 6 pm, in the Kandyan Cultural Centre, the local dancers perform the traditional Kandyan Dance which involves some groovy moves and fire dance. Unfortunately, we arrived late at 7:30 in the evening and the center was already closed.
7. Eat at the Kandy Muslim Hotel
To absorb the culture of a place completely, I do three things: visit a museum, visit a religious monument, and eat traditional foods. I did visit the first two and to indulge in the local scene of cuisine (see that rhymes), I headed towards Kandy Muslim Hotel. From spicy delights such as Kottu Roti to some creamy curries, I had it all, and guess what? I loved it.
8. Have your wow moment in the annual Esala Perahera procession
The procession is held in the months of July or August which is marked by some 50 to 60 elephants decorated or embellished from head to toe, treading the streets of Kandy gently yet immensely. The main purpose of the event is to parade the Tooth Relic of Buddha in the streets to receive a blessing.
Kandy has much more to offer than what I listed here. It truly depicts the personality of a typical South Asian city with its gardens, forests, festivals, and monuments. I am sure you wouldn’t have enough of it.
Where to stay in Kandy
I slept in a room with a fantastic view of Kandy – at Kandyan View Holiday Bungalow. I even had my own veranda from my room. The dining tables have an amazing view of the city, too.