The last capital of the ancient kings’ era.
When I visited Sri Lanka years ago, by far my favorite city was Kandy. The last capital of the ancient kings’ era was blanketed by iconic plateaus of tea plantations. Morning walks in midst of steep hills and passing by ladies collecting tea leaves were nonetheless serene. This rising tourist destination contains plenty of must-see’s, and the following shouldn’t be missed:
1. Visit the Temple of the Tooth (Sri Dalada Maligawa).
Temple of the Tooth, or Sri Dalada Maligwa, can be found in the royal palace complex of the former Kingdom of Kandy. It’s famous for housing the relic of the tooth of the Buddha, which was significant in ancient times because whoever held the relic also held the power to govern the country. Because of this tooth temple, Kandy was the last capital of old Sri Lanka. Today, the temple remains as one of the most sacred places to worship in the Buddhist world.
2. A moment of silence at Commonwealth War Cemetery.
The Commonwealth War Cemetery pays respect to 203 soldiers who were killed during World World I and II. It consists of 107 British, 35 East Africans, 26 Sri Lankans, 23 Indians, 6 Canadians, 3 Italians, 1 Frenchman and 2 unidentified people. Many travelers have expressed that visiting this place was a moving and nostalgic experience.
3. Take a stroll around Kandy Lake.
There is a lot of walking involved in Kandy, and one fantastic place to get your heartbeat up is an artificial lake in the center of Kandy. Next to Temple of the Tooth, Kandy Lake was built in 1807 by King Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe – the last of four kings to rule the last Sinhalese monarchy. There are many folk legends revolving around the lake. One thing you won’t see is fishing in the very well-protected lake.
4. Soak in local history at Kandy Garrison Cemetery.
If you’re a history buff and want to be educated on the past, the Kandy Garrison Cemetery is a solemn place to check out. It’s a cemetery devoted to 195 British who died in Ceylon mostly from malaria or cholera.
5. Check out the Ceylon Tea Museum.
If you’re curious about the art of manufacturing tea, Ceylon Tea Museum is a great option with several floors to explore, and a guided tour if you want one. After the visit, you can choose to have tea and enjoy the view on location, or check out the nearby “Peradeniya Botanical Gardens and Loolecondera estate, where tea was first grown commercially in Sri Lanka.”
6. Say a little prayer at Lankatilaka Temple.
The Lankatilaka Temple is another gorgeous architecture built on the natural Panhalgala Rock, adorned with traditional Sinhalese sculptures. The walls and ceilings are filled with paintings and sculptures from the Kandyan era.
7. Morning walk at Kandy View Point.
Situated near Kandy Lake, you’ll need to climb up Rajapihila Mawatha in order to reach a beautiful panoramic view of the entire city, along with the lake and Sri Dalada Maligawa Temple. This place is hard to miss because you’ll spot numerous restaurants, souvenir boutiques and street vendors.
8. Photo ops at Bahiravokanda Vihara Buddha Statue.
As one of the tallest Buddha statues in Sri Lanka, Bahiravokanda Vihara Buddha Statue towers over the city at 88 feet tall. Try to see the statue at dusk or night when it’s lit up. Not only will you feel a different sense of zen from daytime, you’ll be able to check out a great panoramic view of the city by night from here.
9. Pace yourself through the peaceful Udawattekele Sanctuary.
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Udawattekele Sanctuary is a lovely forest reserve where back in the day, locals used to call this place “the garden above the royal palace.” You can observe a range of birds, plant species, small trees, lianas, and wildlife here. The trail makes for a delightful walk, surrounded by nature.