Kandy is after Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa the third royal city of Sri Lanka. It lies within the cultural triangle and is the start of a beautiful journey through the high mountains of the country. The city has about 120,000 inhabitants and people who love culture are in the right place here. Kandy is home to a number of interesting sights that are well worth a visit. Wondering what makes this cultural city historically so special? Then read on…
A brief history – Kandy: The third royal city of Sri Lanka
The town of Kandy was founded during the reign of Wickramabahu III of Gampola (1357-1374). However, it took more than a century before it became the most important city in the country. In 1521, the Kingdom of Kandy was the centre of power, but soon had to contend with the Portuguese. They demanded a monopoly on trade, including cinnamon, and tried to convert the country’s inhabitants to Christianity. This to the dismay of the various kings who were to succeed each other in the 16th century.
When the Dutch arrived in Ceylon they were asked by the king of Kandy to help drive out the Portuguese. By 1660 the VOC (United East India Company) had taken over several forts, including Galle and Jaffna, and the monopoly in cinnamon was now largely in the hands of the Dutch. But between the VOC and the Kingdom of Kandy a love-hate relationship remained. It was that they needed each other in the trade in elephants, betel nuts and cinnamon, but the king would rather see the Dutch leave today than tomorrow. In 1765 the VOC plundered Kandy and forced the king to sign a treaty that would give the entire coast to the VOC.
Around 1800 the British arrived in Ceylon, now Sri Lanka, and in 1815 put an end to the Kingdom of Kandy. But there was much rebellion and in 1817-1818 this led to the Uva Rebellion, an uprising by the local inhabitants against the new rulers. This rebellion was crushed in a bloody fashion and meant the end of any resistance in Sri Lanka against the rulers.
Nowadays Kandy is a vibrant city and because of its cultural importance it is on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1988.
Sightseeing – What to do in Kandy?
Kandy is a city where you can enjoy 3 to 4 days full of Sri Lankan culture and the beautiful nature in the surrounding area. But most tourists stay here for about 2 nights and then go on to see the highlands of Sri Lanka. And in principle you can see the most important things in 1.5 days, because Kandy is a fairly busy city and you have to be in the mood for that.
Curious about the most interesting attractions of this cultural city? Read more about it in the article Sightseeing in Kandy | 7 interesting places in the ancient royal city
Accommodation – Where to stay in Kandy?
Most people stay in the centre of Kandy, as after 1 or 2 days they continue their journey by train towards the high mountains of Sri Lanka. But Kandy is a relatively busy city, so if you are more of a fan of quiet surroundings, then the surrounding towns are a better option. But that also depends on what you would like to see. The centre of the city is situated between the railway station and the main attraction, the Temple of the Tooth.
Transport – How to get there
The best way to get to Kandy from Colombo is by bus. This bus runs a few times a couple of hours and takes about 2.5 hours. It is also possible to take the train from Colombo Fort. This train only runs a few times a day and takes about 3 hours. This is also the train that continues the beautiful journey from Kandy to the highlands via Nuwara Eliya and Ella and finally ends in Badulla. Both the bus station and the train station of Kandy are located in the centre of the city.
Planning to visit the cultural triangle after Kandy? By bus, it takes just under 2 hours to reach Dambulla. From there, you can take a bus to Sigiriya. A bus to Polonnaruwa takes about 4 hours and to Anuradhapura 5 hours.