Tall trees surround the urban area of Kandy, which in turn was built around Kandy Lake, which has waterfront looks that makes it feels like a miniature version of some villages in The Alps mountain range of Europe. Walk the streets and you’ll see the white building walls clash with the colourful saris worn by local women while three-wheelers (tuk tuks) buzz by. Flag one down and take in the sights at a fast pace and the wind in your hair.
By the north shore of Kandy Lake is Sri Lanka’s greatest Buddhist sanctuary, the Temple of the Tooth. Inside you will walk through dazzling rooms with decorated pillars and golden elephant heads lining the ceiling. The main shrine itself has a golden canopy and fence around the seven gem encrusted caskets that house Buddha’s tooth – which itself is never in public view – but the respect and reverence shown here is just as awe-inspiring.
You may notice that the forested area behind the Temple of the Tooth is especially lush and beautiful. This is Udawatta Kele Sanctuary, where you can hike among big trees that often block out the sun, quiet ponds, colourful birds, macaques (monkeys) and the Garrison Cemetary. Rain will bring out leeches, so take some mosquito repellent to keep them off just in case. Another Kandy attraction that nature lovers will enjoy is the Peradeniya Botanical Gardens, which has more than 460 species of plants, including a range of beautiful orchids.
There isn’t a big restaurant or bar scene here, but you can easily enjoy some good Sri Lankan, Indian, Chinese or European food, and there are international fast food chains for something quick. If you go out for a drink, try the local fermented coconut sap drink, Arrak, and you may find yourself clinking glasses with the locals.
For some real celebration, however, make sure you travel to Kandy in September or August (depending on the year) for Esala Perahera (Festival of the Tooth). Dancers with fire, whips and more parade through the street along with elephants dressed in bright decorative outfits that cover almost every inch of their bodies as a procession is held for a special casket from the Temple of the Tooth. The festival started in the 18th century, giving locals a chance to worship the tooth in a time when it was property of the royal family.
Craving a holiday full of amazing attractions and even more amazing sites? Then satisfy your sweet tooth with a trip to Kandy! Once you’ve booked a flight to Sri Lanka and one of our Kandy hotels, the hard part is done and your holiday awaits!
Hotels in Kandy start at AU$24 per night. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.