Present day Kandy or Mahanuwara is a one of two major cities in Sri Lanka. It was the last kingdom of Sri Lankan ancient kings. City lies in the plateau among hills of central mountain area of the country. Kandy is a home for the Temple of Tooth Relic which is most sacred and venerated place of worship in the Buddhist world. And there are many more historical, religious and cultural places around the city.
The city has been called by many different names. Some experts suggest that the original name of Kandy was Katubulu Nuwara, but the more popular historical name was Senkadagala or Senkadagalapura. The English name “Kandy” was originated during the colonial era, is derived from Sinhalese name Kanda Uda Rata (land on the mountain). The Portuguese shortened this to “Candea” for both the kingdom and its capital.
Sri Dalada Maligawa or the Temple of the Tooth Relic is a Buddhist temple in the city located in the royal palace complex of the former Kingdom of Kandy, which houses the relic of the tooth of the Buddha. Since ancient times it is believed that whoever holds the relic holds the governance of the country. The relic has played an important role in local politics since then. Kandy was the last capital before falling of the kingdom of Sri Lankan kings and it is a World Heritage Site mainly due to the temple. It was declared by UNESCO in 1988.
Buddhist priests of the two nikhayas (chapters) of Malwatte and Asgiriya conduct daily worship in the temple. Rituals are performed three times daily, at dawn, at noon and in the evenings. On Wednesdays there is a symbolic bathing of the relic called Nanumura Mangallaya with an herbal scented water prepared from fragrant flowers. This holy water is believed to contain healing powers and is distributed among those present. The temple had damaged by bombings of the Tamil LTTE in 1998 but was fully restored later.
The Esala Perahara is renowned among both local and foreign visitors as one of the most colorful religious pageants in Sri Lanka. It usually runs for 10 days of August. Iconic festival in Kandy in honor of the country’s most prized possession, the Tooth Relic of Lord Buddha. The procession said to started in 310 AD, with the arrival of the famous tooth relic.
The most iconic hotel in Kandy is The Queen’s Hotel. It is situated close to the temple of tooth relic and facing Bogambara lake (Kandy lake). The British colonial style architecture with a history of over 150 year old is just outstanding. You may feel you are in the eighteenth century. Even if you are not staying in this hotel, you can spend some time to visit the colonial dining and sitting rooms inside the building.
Peradeniya Royal Botanic Gardens is about 5.5 km to the west of the city of Kandy. Over 2 million visitors are coming here annually. It is near the Mahaweli River. It is renowned for its collection of orchids. The garden includes more than 4000 species of plants, including orchids, spices, medicinal plants and palm trees. The botanical garden covers the area of 147 acres, and it is 460 meters above the sea level.
The origin of the Botanic Gardens dated as year 1371 when King Wickramabahu III ascended the throne and kept court at Peradeniya near the Mahaweli River. King Kirti Sri and King Rajadhi Rajasinghe also following the same. A temple was built on this location by King Wimala Dharmasooriya. But it was destroyed later by the British when they were gained control over the Kandy. Now it is managed by the Division of National Botanic Gardens of the Department of Agriculture.
Many attraction are only a short distance from Kandy. Nuwara Eliya, World’s end and Horton Plains, Pinnawela Eliphant orphanage, Knuckles mountain range, Hantana Mountains are within couple of hours drive. Not just that there are tons of attractions are still in the city limits. Sathara Maha Devalas (Four temples devoted to four Hindu Gods), Rajapihilla (Royal bath), Kandy Lake, Kandy museum, Spice shops, Gem shops etc. So many hotels are situated around the city and on surrounding mountains which gives you magnificent view of city, specially at night.
Attractions Places & Activities for Tourists Kandy
- Temple of the Tooth
- Royal Botanical Gardens, Peradeniya
- Kandy Lake
- Udawattakele Forest Reserve
- National Museum of Kandy
- Natha Devale, Kandy
- Hanthana Mountain Range
- Asgiri Maha Viharaya
- Giragama Walawwa
- Pinnawela Eliphant orphanage