May 2014


Hill Country
May 2014




View from above: Kandy as seen from air

The historical city of Kandy is a must-see attraction when visiting Sri Lanka. Declared a UNESCO world heritage site in 1988, it is the country's second largest city after Colombo, and although not as modern and developed, it is a magical city filled with rich history and culture that dates back to ancient times.


Words and Photography Anitra Ratnayake


Historical records suggest that King Wikramabahu III who was the Monarch of the Kingdom of Gampola at the time, first established the city. He is said to have named the city after Senkadagalapura, generally shortened to Maha Nuwara, which translates to ‘Great City' or ‘Capital'.


Whether you are travelling byroad or air to this historical city you are guaranteed breathtaking views of the country. The Colombo-Kandy road is said to be one of the most scenic routes to travel on in Sri Lanka. It will take you approximately three hours or so depending on traffic, there is also the option of the newly re-done Expo rail which will take you around half the time. For the impatient traveller however, these breathtaking views are still on offer with the option to fly there. The journey takes about 20 minutes with spectacular aerial views of the city.


A prominent attraction of the city is the Mahaweli River. Literally translating to ‘the Great Sandy River', which is the longest river in Sri Lanka measuring 335 km and covers almost 1/5th of the total area of the Island. Production of hydroelectricity from the six dams of the Mahaweli system supplies more than 40 percent of Sri Lanka's electricity requirements.


When arriving in Kandy town there is much to see and do. Although not as developed as Colombo, Kandy still has lots to offer in terms of shopping, restaurants and most importantly architecture. For instance, the clock tower that stands tall in the centre of Kandy town is a monumental piece of architecture that dates back to 1950 when it was built by Haji Mohamod Ismail in memory of his son who passed away in 1947. The clock tower was designed by Shirley de Alwis who was a highly regarded architect in Sri Lanka at the time. Its design is said to have been influenced by the Kandyan styles and incorporates both elements of the Temple of the Tooth and the Palace of the king of Kandy.


The Temple of the Tooth or the sacred Sri Dalada Maligawa should unquestionably top your list of places to visit when in Kandy. This ancient Buddhist Temple is located near the Royal Palace complex of the former Kingdom of Kandy. The building is home to the sacred tooth relic of Lord Buddha. Since ancient times the building has played an important role in local politics as it is said that whoever holds the relic has the right to govern the Country. One of the main reasons for the City of Kandy's UNESCO status 
is due to the Temple of the Tooth.

This ancient Buddhist Temple is located near the Royal Palace complex of the former Kingdom of Kandy. The building is home to the sacred tooth relic of Lord Buddha.
For nature lovers the Royal Botanical Gardens, Peradeniya is a must. The gardens are situated approximately 5.5 kilometres to the west from Kandy and attract around two million visitors annually. The Botanical Gardens are renowned for its collection of orchids and is home to more than 4,000 species of plants including; spices, medicinal plants and palm trees. The total area of the Gardens is around 147 acres (0.59 km). The origins of the Gardens dates as far back as 1371 when King Wikramabahu III ascended the throne and kept court at Peradeniya near the Mahaweli River.


In keeping with the theme of nature, the Udawattekale Sanctuary that is located directly behind the Temple of the Tooth is a trek not to 
be missed. This historical forest reserve was known as ‘Uda Wasala Watte', which translated means ‘the garden situated above the Royal Palace'. 
The sanctuary is famous for its extensive avifauna and also its variety of plant and animal species, it offers long secluded pathways that can be explored for hours. Udawattekale was designated as a forest reserve in 1856 and became a sanctuary in 1938. The sanctuary is perfect for the individual who is looking for an escape from the noise and congestion of the city.


After a long day of sightseeing, Kandy town offers numerous places to relax and unwind. Antique stores are in large capacity with products ranging from jewellery to furniture. If you are not interested in shopping there are also 
many places on offer to simply kick back and relax.


A historical place to stay or simply visit is the Queens Hotel. It is a 54-room colonial hotel located in the town centre. This former Governor's residence is one of the oldest hotels in Sri Lanka with a history of over 160 years. Notable attractions of the hotel are the Queen of Hearts restaurant, Royal ballroom 
and the Pub Royal, which is the only British pub in the city that offers service with an old colonial flavour.


However, of recent times a place 
that is fast becoming a favourite of many in Kandy and those who visit the city is the Kandy City Centre (KCC). Accepted as a landmark of the city due to its unique structure and retail experience, KCC is a space where young and old alike spend time enjoying the small pleasures of life.


The historical city of Kandy offers much to see and do for both the adventurous and laid-back traveller. Many more attractions such as the Victoria Golf Club in Digana and the Tea Museum and Factory are also places to visit. With all that is on offer in Kandy, one thing can be certain-you will not run out of things to see or do.

 

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    The view of Kandy town from the highest point in the area

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    The historical Kandy clock tower standing tall at the city centre

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    Sri Dalada Maligawa (the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic) attracts many visitors daily

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    The brilliant white stupa covered in the Buddhist flag standing tall at the Dalada Maligawa

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    Devotees paying their observances at the sacred Bo tree

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    The botanical gardens features scenic routes for nature lovers to explore

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    Entrance to Udawattekale sanctuary

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    Secluded pathways perfect for trekking in Udawattekale

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    The Mahaweli river stretches through Kandy

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    The Kandy City Centre (KCC)

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    The historic Queens Hotel in the town centre

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