A vibrant jewel in the hills of Sri Lanka
Kandy, the hill city, the sleepy town with centuries of history and tradition, is a must see during your visit to Sri Lanka. Home to the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic and many other temples and kovils of historic significance, the city in the hills, located at the center of the island, can serve as a stopover on your way to other parts of the country. Some destinations close to Kandy include Sigiriya, Dambulla and Horton Plains National Park.
The town is buzzing during the day and winds down by dusk, but there’s plenty to see and do. Start with the Temple of the Tooth and take a walk around the Kandy Lake to experience Kandy ‘town’. A quick stop at Arthur’s seat at Rajapihilla Mawatha will give you a bird’s eye of the town and surroundings. Make your way the big white Buddha statue, Bhairavakonda for even more stunning views, or head over to Helga’s Folly for an out of the ordinary visit to a hotel with a lot of charm and culture of its own.
If you’re in the mood to shop, the Kandy City Centre is the one-stop mall in town, with a collection of clothing stores, bookshops, accessories and a new food court that offers both Sri Lankan and international cuisine. There are also several smaller cafes that cater to all different pallets, but plenty of smaller ‘kadey’ shops for local fare and a total local experience, as well. The Muslim Hotel is one such option.
Head out of the town area to Peradeniya where you can spend several hours strolling through the Royal Botanical Gardens – make sure you visit the suspension bridge that can give you a beautiful view of the Mahaweli River and the green surroundings. Also in Peradeniya is the well-known University of Peradeniya, an open-layout campus with a lot of greenery. This is a great place to visit if you have time to walk or drive around and take in the fresh air.
On the outskirts of Kandy you’ll also find ancient temples such as Lankathilaka, Gadaladeniya and Embekka, rich in history of the Kandy kingdom.
If nature is more your taste, the Hanthana mountain range offers a trail for hikers, but remember to keep safety in mind and go with a guide as it’s easy to lose your way. The Knuckles Mountain Range is also not too far away for hikes that can be done in a day or overnight. Closer to town, you’ll find Udawatta Sanctuary, where you can go for a fairly easy walk through a forest reserve.
If you get the chance to travel on the train from Colombo to Kandy, booking the Intercity is your best bet – the second class option will give you a real feel of the experience, while being able to take in the mountain air as you approach the hills with the windows open. Keep your camera handy because it’s definitely Instagram-worthy!
Key Attractions in and around Kandy
- Temple of the sacred tooth relic
- Lankatilaka temple
- Udawatta Kele sanctuary
- Kandy view point
- Bahiravokanda vihara buddha statue
- Kandy Lake
- (Peradeniya) Royal botanical gardens
- Temple of Gadaladeniya
- Embekke Devalaya
- Galmaduwa temple
- Maha Vishnu devalaya
- Degaldoruwa temple
- Asgiriya maha viharaya
- St. Anthony’s church
- Hanthana mountain range
- Helga’s Folly
- The church of St. Paul
- Kandy Garrison cemetery
- Commonwealth war cemetery
- Hulu river and waterfall
- Knuckles mountain range
- Millenium elephant foundation
- Ceylon Tea Museum
- Giragama tea plantation
- The Queens hotel