The cultural capital of Sri Lanka - hidden away amid precipitous green hills at the heart of the island!
Kandy is famous for
Places of Worship
Beautiful tea plantations, Quiet & Serene Hill station
beautiful holiday destination
The city garden is very big and has tremendously variety of trees and plants including spice trees and unique flowers.
A very nice clean and green town with very friendly locals ready to help and guide.
I am heading to Kandy
Getting to Kandy
Transit time: 6hrs from major cities
Cost ₹7,027 per person
The city of Kandy, located in central Sri Lanka, is better known as the cultural capital of Sri Lanka. A popular tourist destination, Kandy is located at a distance of 115 kilometers from Colombo. Surrounded by mountains, Kandy is home to tea plantations and rich forests.
Kandy has a rich history. Early historical records suggest that Kandy was established by King Wickramabahu between 1357-1374 CE, and was originally named as Senkadagalapura after a hermit named Senkada. Kandy became an independent kingdom in Sri Lanka after it was conquered by the Portuguese in the year 1592. Kandy was also invaded by the Dutch in the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteen century, and also by the British, who finally conquered it in the year 1815 and gave the city its current name.
The name, Kandy, is also derived from the Sinhalese word, Kanda, which means hills. Kandy was a strategic location for Sinhalese kings, who protected the city from foreign invasion, until its fall in the year 1815. The last ruling dynasty of Kandy were the Nayaks from the land of Kandy.
Why You Should Visit
The city of Kandy is one of the most popular tourist destination in Sri Lanka. Kandy offers an interesting assortment of reasons as to why people come here so often.
The city is home to sacred Buddhist shrines and temples, including the renowned Temple of the Tooth and the Malwaththa temple.
Located at an altitude of around 500 meters, Kandy is perched among the mountains, and is ideal for trekking. The Knuckles mountain range has more than 35 peaks rising to over 3000 feet in height.
Kandy possesses a rich collection of biodiverse flora and fauna, and has a rich source of water rivulets and streams.
Kandy offers a breathtaking view of fresh tea plantations and the surrounding lush green scenery. For the best nature views, one can take the railway journey between Kandy and Ella.
For wildlife lovers, Kandy offers a natural treat with rainforest reserves like Kandy and Udawattakele, which is home to multiple species of animals and birds including the mouse deer, porcupines, and many birds including the white-rumped shama, emerald doves, white-bellied dongos, the yellow-browed bulbul, and many more.
The city of Kandy is filled with tourist attractions and sites.
Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic is one of the most sacred sites for Buddhist pilgrims in the world. Also known as the Dalda Maligawa, the golden-roofed temple that was built in the seventeenth century is home to an important Buddhist relic, the tooth of the Buddha, which is kept in a gold casket shaped like a dagoba.
The Gadaladeniya temple, which was built in the thirteenth century, has beautiful Dravidian architecture that is a sight to behold. Located on a hilltop, the temple offers a breathtaking view of the surrounding country.
For nature and wildlife lovers, a must visit is the Udawattakelle Sanctuary, which is located to the north of Kandy. This biodiverse sanctuary is home to huge trees, birds, and a variety of animals. Also known as the forbidden forest, it contains a variety of trees including the Talipot trees, cinnamon, olive, rattan cane, betel, kitul palms, and arecanut among others.
For museum lovers, the Sri Dalada Maligawa (or the Sri Dalada) museum is located in the site of the Tooth relic shrine and contains relics and gifts that were donated for the Sacred Tooth Relic. Photographs of ancient sites where the holy tooth relic was enshrined through centuries before it was brought to Sri Lanka are displayed. Additional displays include Buddha statues, Kandyan gold and jewelry items, and a silver water pot of historic value that was offered by King Kirti Sri Rajasimha.
Located in the Temple of the Tooth site is the World Buddhism Museum, containing exhibits and displays illustrating the rich traditions of Buddhism. The museum highlights the spread of Buddhism through Asia and was established with contributions from over 17 countries including Sri Lanka, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Indonesia.
A highlight of the city of Kandy is the artificial Kandy Lake, also known as the Kiri Muhuda or the Sea of Milk. Created in the year 1807 by King Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe, the Kandy lake is located next to the Temple of the Tooth Relic. The serene lake offers a leisurely evening stroll for visitors and features a central island that was used by King Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe as a personal harem.
Besides these tourist hotspots, Kandy offers other tourist attractions including the four Hindu shrines dedicated to Lord Vishnu and Goddess Parvati, the Peradeniya Gardens, a fourteenth-century garden for nature lovers, the Embekke temples famous for its traditional wooden carvings, and the Knuckle mountain range with over 35 peaks containing a rich collection of natural flora and fauna.
Favourite Local Foods
Sri Lanka is famous for its rice and curry dishes, and you will find plenty of options to savour simple Sri Lankan cuisine at multiple restaurants in and around the lush green locales of Kandy. Here are a few of the recommended local foods in Kandy:
Get a taste of authentic Sri Lankan food, ranging from the local naan, spicy curries, and the delicious koththu roti (made of chopped and fried Sri Lankan roti, egg, vegetables, and spices) at the Kandy Muslim hotel (the name can be misleading), located near the Lord Kataragama temple.
Located in the Kandy hills and overlooking the Jungle lake is Helga’s Folly, a quaint boutique hotel that has been a favourite holiday spot for great personalities including Mahatma Gandhi and Lawrence Olivier. Stay in this hotel or head there for some Eastern vegetarian food, as well as for some freshly-made chicken or fish curry.
The Kandy House is an eighteen-century hotel and restaurant that offers a fusion of European and local Sri Lankan cuisine. Specialties include Poached fillet of para fish served with jasmine rice, the beef massaman curry with broccoli, and chicken curry served with vermicelli.
The best place to savour a variety of Indian, Chinese, and Sri Lankan cuisine is the White House restaurant. In addition to Indian specialties like Chicken Tandoori, Goan fish curry, and Prawn Korma, the restaurant also offers fresh coffee and light pastries.
Favourite Local Things to Buy
Sri Lankan is a country of artisans, who use a variety of materials including wood, stones, ebony, and lace in a variety of handcrafted articles.
Craft items: Explore a range of rich Sri Lankan craftsmanship at craft shops, which are very common in Kandy. You can also get a good bargain on trinkets when you buy from local tourist hawkers. Other items of interest are wooden-carved elephants and masks.
Metalwork items: A variety of metalwork items including ceremonial brass lamps, which are used in temple functions, designer trays, and other decorative items are very common in Kandy markets.
Lacquerware: Lacquer-made items consisting of lacquer bowls and containers can be brought in Kandy, from where it originated. The unique feature of these objects is the finishing using lac substance, secreted by the lac insect.
Gems: Sri Lanka has a wealth of precious stones including a variety of spinels, sapphire and ruby, and star stones. To buy gem stones, opt for a shop authorized by the Sri Lanka Gem Trader’s Association or the International Coloured Gemstone Association.
Kandy is a great place to shop, with a variety of local and upscale markets. The busiest and most popular market to shop for a good bargain is the Station Road Market, selling items such as leather, pashmina shawls, silk items, and jewelry. The biggest upscale mall in Kandy is the Kandy City Centre, with six floors of shopping, entertainment, and food.
Things to do in Kandy
There is a wide array of activities that one can indulge in as a family while staying at Kandy, including:
Elephant riding at the Pinnawala Elephant orphanage, where in addition to riding an elephant, you can also shower with the elephant.
Enjoy some tea: Kandy is home to a number of tea plantations. At the Giragama tea plantation (a few kilometers away from Kandy), you can take a tour of the local factory to see how tea is made using machines, as well relish some tea flavours.
Explore spice plantations at a number of spice gardens in Kandy. You can also learn about spices such as cinnamon and aloe vera, and also purchase some spices.
Enjoy a traditional Kandyan dance performance: Attend traditional Kandyan dance shows, including the performance of trained professionals walking on fire.
Take a leisurely walk around the Kandy lake, right in the heart of the city. It is a 2.1-mile-long walk with several spots where you can sit and enjoy the peaceful serenity of nature.
Attend the ten-day Esala Perahera festival in Kandy, which is a yearly festival that is held around July or August. One of the oldest Buddhist festivals in the world, the festival is famous for its colourful parade of dancers, jugglers, musicians, fire breathers, and decorated elephants. The leading elephant tusker carries the sacred tooth relic of Lord Buddha, with spectators paying their homage to the sacred relic.
VISA and Travel
Tourists visiting Sri Lanka must have a passport that is valid for at least six months from the date of entering Sri Lanka. Tourist visas are valid for a maximum stay of 30 days in Sri Lanka. For short visits to Sri Lanka, tourists must obtain an Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) before travelling.
Indian visitors require an electronic visa (that can be obtained by email) to travel to Sri Lanka, but must hold a valid passport. The single entry electronic visa is valid up to three months and can be obtained directly from the Sri Lankan Consulate or Embassies in India. The visa processing duration is generally around three to four business days. The total embassy fee including service tax and service fee is around INR 8298.Tourist visa is also required for children under the age of 12.
Note: LKR or the Sri Lankan Rupee is the currency of Sri Lanka. The current exchange rate is 1LKR= 0.46 INR.
Indians form the largest group of international tourists to Sri Lanka at around 18%. In the year 2014, around 2,74,000 Indians travelled to the emerald country. The top destinations for Indian tourists include Colombo, Kandy, Galle, and Matala. For Indians, Sri Lanka is also an ideal location for wedding tourism, luxury, beach, and adventure tourism.
Best Time to Visit
For a small country like Sri Lanka, the weather patterns are very complicated as the island experiences two monsoon seasons. The southwest monsoon brings rain to the western and southwest regions from around April (or May) to September. The northwest monsoon impacts the eastern coast of the country and lasts from November to March.
The best time to visit the western and southern region is from December to March, while the best time to visit the eastern regions is from April (or May) to September.
Due to its proximity to the equator, the temperatures remain constant through the year. Temperatures decrease with higher altitudes; hence Kandy is at a comfortable eighteen to twenty-two degrees centigrade. Due to the comfortable year-round weather, Kandy can be visited in any season of the year.
Humidity is high in the island country, with a high of 90% in the southwest and around 60-80% in the remaining parts.