Kandy is an interesting city to spend a few days. Especially if you are a big fan of art and culture, this is the place to be. Below you will find some nice sights in Kandy with a touch of historical information.
Sightseeing in Kandy – 7 interesting places you should visit
- Sri Dalada Maligawa, or Tooth Temple
- Peradeniya, the botanical gardens of Kandy
- Go to a cultural dance performance
- Walk around the artificial Kandy Lake
- Three-Temples loop, a visit to temples dating back to the 14th century
- Bahirawakanda Vihara Buddha Statue, the view over Kandy
- Esala Perahera, a big feast to honour the tooth of Buddha
1. Visit the Sri Dalada Maligawa, or Temple of the Tooth
The main sight of Kandy is the Temple of the Tooth. The story goes that after the cremation of Buddha in 543 BC, his body was divided into eight portions and given to the eight kingdoms in India. Eventually, in the fourth century A.D., someone smuggled a piece of the tooth to Sri Lanka, where it subsequently stayed in various places in the country. It finally came to Kandy in 1592.
During the Kingdom of Kandy, this temple stood within the walls of the Royal Palace. Now it is home to a number of small temples and a few museums, including the Sri Dalada Museum and the Raja Tusker Museum. The sacred tooth, however, cannot be seen. It is kept in a golden box trimmed with precious stones in a holy relic in the form of a stupa. And of course you can see it.
2. Peradeniya, the Botanical Gardens of Kandy
5 kilometres south of the centre of Kandy, you will find Peradeniya Botanical Gardens. After the British deposed the last king of Kandy, Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe in 1821, they turned this former royal park into a botanical garden. It is 60 hectares and a nice park to discover tropical trees and plants, but also animals like monkeys. At the entrance you will find a map of the gardens and in the north there is a Grand Circle where celebrities have planted a commemorative tree.
The best way to get there is by tuktuk or bus. Peradeniya Botanical Gardens costs around 1,500 Sri Lankan Rupees.
3. Go to a cultural dance performance
Near the Tooth Temple, there are a number of theatres along Kandy Lake where you can attend traditional dance performances. Amongst others, the Kandyan Cultural Centre has daily dancing, drumming and one of the performances I attended involved spitting fire and walking on hot coals. If you walk around the lake, you will undoubtedly pass by it and you will also be asked to buy a ticket.
A ticket costs about €5 per person and the show takes place in the afternoon. Generally, it will last about 45 minutes. The opinions about these shows are quite different. In any case, do not go there with too high expectations…
4. Walk around the artificial Kandy Lake
The heart of the city centre is the Kandy Lake. This artificial lake was constructed by the last king of Kandy, King Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe in 1807. Before that, this lake was a rice field and carried the name Tigolwela.
There are a number of rumours and legends circulating about this man-made lake. For instance, the king is said to have maintained a harem on the island in the middle of the lake and the island is said to be connected from the royal palace by a secret tunnel. In any case, if you have time to spare, it is a great idea to take a 3 km walk around Kandy Lake. And, of course, it is also possible to rest and relax along this man-made lake.
5. Three-Temples Loop, a visit to temples from the 14th century
More than 10 kilometres south-west of the centre of Kandy you will find a few special temples. Known as the Three-Temples Loop, these are shrines dating back to the 14th century, when the Kingdom of Kandy had only just begun to take their place in society. The most famous temples are Gadaleniya, Lankatilaka and Embekke Devale.
It is a great way to escape the busy city if Kandy and explore the surrounding area. The temples are in good condition and the best way to reach them is by tuktuk, as the temples are a few kilometres apart from eachother. Are you also planning to visit the Botanical Gardens? Peradeniya and the Three-Temples Loop as a day trip is a great combination then.
6. Bahirawakanda Vihara Buddha Statue, view over Kandy
This is perhaps one of the most famous Buddha statues of Kandy or perhaps of Sri Lanka, Bahirawakanda Vihara Buddha Statue. It is located south of the centre of Kandy and from here you have a magnificent view over the city. The statue is 26 metres high and was officially inaugurated on 1 January 1993.
If you want to visit the statue and the temple, it is best to do so by tuktuk. However, I myself walked the entire stretch and it was otherwise perfectly doable. And once you reach the top, you do rest and enjoy the surroundings of Kandy…
7. Esala Perahera, a big feast in honour of the tooth of Buddha
Do you happen to be in Sri Lanka in the month of August in 2021? Then you can visit a special festival entirely dedicated to the Tooth of Buddha, Esala Perahera. Buddhists from all over the world come to Kandy to experience this ten-day festival. Acrobats, fire-eaters and dancers make it a great party. And, of course, the parade includes many costumed elephants, one of which carries the sacred Tooth of Buddha on its back.
This year, Esala Perahera will take place from 14 to 24 August 2021. If you are here, bear in mind that it is packed with people, so book your hotel in time.
And what did you think of this article about Kandy? Feel free to leave a message below if you have more great tips and ideas.