The third point of the Cultural Triangle that also comprises Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa, Kandy is the cultural capital of Sri Lanka with a rich heritage of music, dance and architecture. Home of the Sacred Tooth relic, the city is on nearly every visitor’s itinerary. It also serves as a gateway to the Hill Country, the mountainous core of the island, where the countryside is dotted with tea plantations are town still preserve the remnants of the British Colonial legacy.
Set amid verdant hills in the heart of the island, Kandy was founded during the reign of Wickramabahu III of Gampola (1357-1374). The city became the capital of SenaSammadhaWickramabahu’s (1473-1511) kingdom in the 15th century, and its reputation was further cemented when the Tooth Relic arrived in 1592. Over the years, successive kings built, renovated and rebuilt sections of the city, as they staved off Colonial powers. The British, however, were determined to conquer the whole island, and finally, in 1815, succeeded in overthrowing this last bastion of independence, thanks to the unpopularity of the tyrannical Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe. Kandy soon became an important center for trade, with a railway line linking it to Colombo. Today, it is Sri Lanka’s second city, renowned for the Temple of the Tooth and the spectacular Esalaperahera.
Beyond the bustle of Kandy, the pace of life slackens and the temperate climate provides a welcome relief. The southern Hill Country presents a range of contrasts – from wild and rugged landscapes with gushing waterfalls to carefully manicured tea plantations carpeting the hillsides. The Colonial-era railway creaks along at dizzying heights, past former British hill stations, such as NuwaraEliya and Badulla, which are now modern towns. The area’s other attractions include the hill towns of Ella and Haputale, which offer scenic views and lovely winding walks.
EXPLORING KANDY AND THE HILL COUNTRY
Located in the heart of the island, Kandy is home to the famous Temple of the Tooth, which attracts visitors and pilgrims from across the world. The area surrounding the city offers a mix of historical and natural attraction tourists and pilgrims alike who come here to visit the Temple of the tooth, the most sacred Buddhist shrine in Sri Lanka, and to experience the famous EsalaPerahera. Easy to wander around, Kandy also has some interesting museums and market to explore. There is a range of accommodation to choose from, with many of the town’s hotels set in the surrounding hills. Kandy also makes a great base for exploring the Knuckles Range and outlying temples.