With a vibrant city at its core, Kandy unfolds into a lush landscape of rolling hills. The city itself is home to evocative remnants of Sinhalese culture – here, you could meander around the lake until you reach the Temple of the Tooth, and explore the golden shrines of this vast sacred site. Or stroll through the Royal Botanical Gardens, looking out for rare orchids. Just be sure to stop off at a plantation on the way back to your luxury hotel and sip a cup of freshly brewed – and picked – Ceylon tea.
Treasured temples and tea plantations, spectacular palaces and sweeping jungle: welcome to the ancient kingdom of Kandy.
Things to do
The UNESCO World Heritage site of Kandy is a treasure trove of ancient monuments and rich culture. Visit the Temple of the Tooth, or discover the beguiling artefacts in the Alut Maligawa shrine hall, before strolling around the Royal Palace Park. Then retreat to the lake that lies at the heart of the city. Dating back to 1807, this serene stretch of water, island and ‘cloud wall’, were created by Kandy’s last king and offer picturesque views.
Leave the city and head for the hills. Near the Temple of the Tooth you’ll find Udawattakelle Sanctuary. Formerly a royal pleasure garden, the forest is home to ancient trees, tropical birdlife and Buddhist cave dwellings. Or escape to the central highlands near your luxury hotel. The immense Knuckles Forest Range is covered in grassland and forests where you could spot black eagles, buffalo, macaques and even an elephant or two.
Dancers, drummers and daredevil acrobats – travel to Kandy in July or August and you might be lucky enough to witness the spectacle of Esala Perahera. This ten-day Buddhist festival is full of ritual, colour, light and music, with a central parade that features dancers, jugglers and fire-breathers. Not to mention lavishly decorated elephants.
Kandy is a hotspot for traditional Sri Lankan crafts. Look out for batik, lacquer bowls, intricate metalwork, masks and, of course, the famous gem stones.
Top tip from SLH