The Rolling hills surrounding the city, clouds and mist forming over the hills, cooler temperatures, and most importantly Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic. Kandy is known for its Esala Perahera, which is held annually in July/August, with a chance of seeing a beautiful traditional procession.
Kandy was once the capital city of Sri Lanka during the last Sinhalese kingdom, before its fall to the British in 1815. Sri Lankans who live in Kandy or have heritage from the Kandy regions call themselves Kandyan’s. The traditional Kandyan dance originates from this area, and has been around for many hundreds of year, and will be carried on through the younger generations. The climate is a bit cooler in Kandy, this is due to the 500m altitudes. Kandy Esala Perahera is held here on Poya (full moon) in July/August and runs for 10 days. Kandy Esala Perahere consists of a procession of Kandyan dancers, drummers, and many elephants beautifully decorated. The large elephant which carries the sacred Buddha tooth is dressed from trunk to toe and carries the golden casket. This is the biggest of Perahera’s in Asia and has been carried out for many centuries.
Things to do
There are a variety of things to see and do in Kandy, such as:
Kandy lake was built in 1807, and an island in the lake was built for Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe. The British used it when they were there for storing ammunition. We loved just strolling around the lake and stopping at some of the benches along the way to relax and take in the hills surrounding the lake. Some areas of the lake will be dark at night and are advised for women’s safety not to walk around it at night. There is a boat service which takes you out onto the lake but decided upon not taking this trip as seeing the lake from the sides were surface.
Temple of the Tooth
Price: Rs 1500
The Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic is said to be stored here. It was taken from the flames of Lord Buddha Funeral Pyre back in 543BC and was brought to Sri Lanka in the 4th century by a princess hidden in her hair. The Tooth was first taken to Anuradhapura but has since moved around the country, until its final place of Kandy. It is said that the Portuguese stole the tooth from the temple and took it and destroyed it. This is not so as the Sinhalese say, the Portuguese, in fact, took a replica, in which the real tooth remains safe.
We visited the temple during a poja, (5:30 am – 6:45 am, 9:30 – 11 am, 6:30 pm – 8 pm) which we think is the best time to visit, it is the busiest time to visit for good reason. During a poja, drums play out, while the heavily guarded room which holds the tooth relic is opened. Sadly it is not possible to see the tooth relic, as it is housed in a golden casket. Many devotee Buddhists and tourists come here to visit the temple of the tooth and the tooth relic!
When visiting the temple ensure you cover your legs and shoulders. We have created a blog post for visiting a temple, click here.
The temple also has a number of museums dedicated to Buddhism such as Aluth Maligawa, Lada Museum, and World Buddhism Museum. The Audience Hall is also located within the grounds of the temple. The audience hall reminds us of amphitheatres, with its open-air and columns. Just next to the audience hall is the Raja Tusker Hall, this museum holds the largest and oldest Tusker elephant which use to carry the tooth relic before its death. In memory of the elephant, they have stuffed the remains of which the elephant died in 1988.
Places to stay
Price: Wales Park Residence£70
We booked our place through Airbnb and found a really amazing apartment at Wales Park Residence. As there were 5 of us staying at the accommodation, we had 2 rooms both with air conditioning. If you have a driver, there are even a drivers quarters for them to stay separately to our accommodation. You can book this accommodation by clicking here. The cost was approximately £70 per night for the entire apartment. Airbnb is a great place to book places to stay or booking.com, there are luxury hotel’s to stay depending on your budget.
Places to eat
At wales Park Residence, there was a kitchen to make our own food and Cargill’s food shop is but just a short distance away. If you don’t want to cook whilst on holiday, then there is many a takeaway menu’s to choose what food you may wish to eat. There are many choices of restaurants, cafes and food outlets in Kandy, and previous travellers had left menu leaflets in the apartment. We either cooked our food or checked the menu’s and ordered the food and collected from there.
Price: Train 1st class Rs1000 per person
There are trains, buses, and hire vehicles which can take you to Kandy. We travelled from Colombo to Kandy via train. We had to get up early to catch the 5:30 am train from Colombo Fort and arrived in Kandy about 5 hours later. There are options to travel 1st, 2nd, or 3rd class, we travelled 1st class for which the ticket price was Rs1000 per person. This is more expensive than 2nd and 3rd but is more comfortable and uncrowded. When we got off at Kandy 2nd and 3rd class was overcrowded and travellers were still trying to get onto the train. It may be a little more expensive sometimes it is worth paying a little more for the ability to move around.
If you need any help or advise in travelling to Kandy or Sri Lanka, then please contact us.
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