Kandy (Sinhalese: මහනුවර Mahanuwara, pronounced [mahanuʋərə]; Tamil: கண்டி Kandy, pronounced [ˈkaɳɖi]) is a major city in Sri Lanka located in the Central Province. It was the last capital of the ancient kings' era of Sri Lanka. The city lies in the midst of hills in the Kandy plateau, which crosses an area of tropical plantations, mainly tea. Kandy is both an administrative and religious city and is also the capital of the Central Province. Kandy is the home of The Temple of the Tooth Relic (Sri Dalada Maligawa), one of the most sacred places of worship in the Buddhist world. It was declared a world heritage site by UNESCO in 1988.
Kandy was a royal capital and the last stronghold of the Kandyan kings against foreign power, holding out against them for about 300 years. The two main Buddhist Chapters are based here and formed the last centre of independent Buddhist thought during colonial times. Much of the town’s charm lies in the higgledy-piggledy arrangement of its small shops. Many of the buildings are colonial and some are even older. Many of Sri Lanka’s arts and crafts flourish here, particularly the silver and brass crafts as well as jewellery in traditional designs. This market town is also the economic focus of the surrounding tea-producing central highlands.Thousands come here today to watch cricket at the International stadium, and The Victoria Golf and Country Resort is a 40-minute drive from Kandy. The town has everything from banks to cyber cafes, to excellent libraries and bars and restaurants. Locals can even point you in the direction of meditation centers. Accommodation ranges from luxury hotels to middle range guesthouses, to budget lodgings. The regular bus and train services of this extremely central town will connect you to almost anywhere in the island.
The Temple of Tooth
The main attraction of the city and also the most sacred Buddhist establishment in Sri Lanka is where one of Buddha’s tooth is being kept. Built in the 16th century but improvements and additions have been done to this structure until the fall of the Kandy kingdom. A golden canopy was added recently. Daily rituals are being carried out at various offering times to the shrine. A dress code applies for entering the temple. The magnificence has been enhanced by the octagonal pavilion.
Adjacent to the Temple of the tooth are three of the four major Hindu shrines taking part in the Kandy Perahera. Shrines are dedicated to Gods Vishnu and Natha and Goddess Patthini. The forth shrine is further towards the town. Visitors to these shrines could witness the Hindu religion customs though most of the worshipers today are Buddhists. Hindu shrines taking part in the Buddhist pageant is a good example of the Sinhala and Tamil co-existence that lasted for centuries. Four of the last Sri Lankan kings were of south Indian origin.
Kandy is surrounded with many major Buddhist temples. On the shores of the lake are Malwaththa and Asgiri temples. Fine painted murals of Buddhist stories in these temple buildings are a good example of the arts in the Kandy period while paintings of the Hindagala temple at Peradeniya are of the 7th century.
The Old Royal Palace compound
Old place buildings are just beside the temple of the tooth. Among them are the old royal palace, quarters of the royal concubines; queen’s chambers the council chambers and the armoury. Some of these are now being used as museums depicting the exhibits of the Kandyan era. The council chambers built in 1784 is a unique example of wooden architecture of the Kandyan period. The Kandyan Convention was signed here ceding the country to the British in 1815.
Lankatilake temple is a magnificent building built on rock at a scenic location which also has fine paintings.
This 14 century temple is situated about 15Km from the town. The structure of the temple is influenced by the South Indian architecture and built on a rock. The stupa is on a high stone platform.
The Royal Botanical Gardens
Once a pleasure gardens of a Kandyan Queen this 40ha land is a beautiful park with numerous tropical foliage and the best in the island. The Commander of the allied forces in Southeast Asia Earl Mountbatten had the headquarters in the garden during the Second World War.
The main attraction is the intricate wooden carvings of this 14th century shrine dedicated to God Kataragama. There is also a Buddhist temple on location. Almost the entire structures of some wooden buildings are decorated with dancers, musicians, wrestlers, legendary beasts and birds. Nearby are the ruins of an ancient rest house with similar pillars carved in stone.
Arts and Crafts
Kandy is synonymous with arts and crafts of Sri Lanka than anywhere else in the country. It is probably because the Kandy is where all elite who patronised these crafts survived during 300 years of war with the Europeans. Kandy is probably the best place to buy most of the handicrafts produced in Sri Lanka because there are number of shops catering to the tourists. Tourists could watch local crafts coming into life at the At the Kandyan Art Association.
At Kundasale, about 4km from Kandy, a village has been established recently to settle local craftsmen and their families. Visitors could watch craftmen at work and purchase their products on site.