An overview of Kandy
Nestled amidst misty mountain ranges and stunning landscapes, Kandy is the second-largest city in the county. Located in the heart of the island, Kandy is a must-visit destination for anyone who wants to sample authentic Sri Lankan culture.
Also known as the cultural capital of Sri Lanka, Kandy is a city steeped in history, culture and natural beauty. This year-round destination was once the last-standing Royal Kingdom of Sri Lanka, and at present, it has been declared a world heritage site by UNESCO.
As you make your way into Kandy, be prepared to be embraced by the cool, fresh breeze and picturesque backdrops. Whether you’re exploring the winding streets of Kandy or popular attractions, the allure of Kandy is sure to leave you amazed. Overall, it’s a laid-back, beautiful and charming city that gives visitors a feeling of peace and serenity.
History of Kandy
Legend has it that the name ‘Kandy’ originates in the Sinhala language, derived from “Kanda Uda Rata“, meaning the land on the mountains. Nestled in the hill country, it’s safe to say that Kandy truly lives up to its name. Over the course of history, Kandy has also been referred to by other names, such as Senkadagala or Senkadagalapura. At present, the city carries the title of “Maha Nuwara“, meaning ‘Great City’ or Nuwara in short.
Being the last Sinhalese kingdom and the last kingdom to fall into the hands of the European colonisers, Kandy occupies a significant place in the country’s history. Despite numerous advances from the Portuguese and the Dutch invaders in the 16th and 17th centuries, Kandy remained an independent Kingdom. This was greatly owing to its strategic location and the guerilla tactics of the Kandyan forces. However, in 1815, Kandy lost its status as the last independent kingdom, with the British invading it.
Geography of Kandy
Sitting at an altitude of nearly 500 metres above sea level, Kandy is the gateway to the central highlands of Sri Lanka. Cradled by misty mountains and aptly dubbed the hill capital, Kandy offers a unique experience with abundant natural wonders that await you.
On the one hand, you have the Mahaweli River, the longest river in Sri Lanka, winding its way through the city. Then you have the misty Hanthana, and Knuckles mountain ranges rising majestically, nestling Kandy.
But the unique geography of the city doesn’t end there. Nestled close to the city’s heart is the Udawattekele sanctuary, a vital Bio reserve that sprawls over 250 acres. This sanctuary is a haven for birdwatchers, adventure seekers and nature lovers.
And as you venture away from the city’s centre, the hill country unveils more natural wonders for you to enjoy and experience with sprawling tea plantations, cascading waterfalls, and mist-clad mountains. Such is the captivating geography of Kandy, making it a paradise for nature enthusiasts, thrill-seekers and culture-seekers alike.
Experiences in Kandy
Kandy offers a blend of nature, spirituality and cultural heritage. Beyond the captivating history and geography of Kandy, its allure also extends to its attractions. From trekking to leisurely strolls around the Kandy Lake in the city centre and places of worship, there’s just so much that Kandy has to offer.
Kandy is home to the Temple of the Tooth Relic, a popular and sacred place of worship for Buddhists worldwide, which houses the tooth relic of the Lord Buddha. Immerse yourself in spirituality and let the rhythmic chants and drums, the scent of flowers and incense, age-old traditions and intricate architecture tell you tales of bygone eras.
Right next to this spiritual sanctuary is Kandy Lake, offering a sense of serenity and peace amidst the bustling city. Take a walk around the lake or, even better, a boat ride as you allow its peaceful ambience to wash over you.
Want to immerse yourself in nature? The Peradeniya Royal Botanical Garden, which contributes to the city’s multitude of attributes, beckons you with its beauty. Located in the vicinity of the city, the Botanic Garden includes over 4000 species of plants across an area of 147 acres. And if you are a nature lover in search of an adventure, the Hanthana Mountains and the Udawattekele Forest Reserve await you. The Udawattakele Forest Reserve is a popular location for bird watching, with over 80 bird species and trekking.
If you are captivated by the history and culture and want to delve into the rich history of Kandy and embark on a heritage experience, visiting the Kandy National Museum is a must. And don’t forget to explore the architectural wonders of other places of worship, like St. Paul’s Church and the Gadaladeniya Viharaya, that will captivate you.
Kandy offers a stark contrast to the bustling Colombo but nevertheless promises an experience of its own kind. With a landscape consisting of mountains, hills, waterfalls, valleys, and rivers, the hill country provides scenic and stunning views for days. And as you venture beyond the city limits, more enchanting landscapes await you. From the sprawling tea plantations and cascading waterfalls to the idyllic charm of Ella, the hill country will leave you in awe.
So, be prepared to be enchanted by the myriad of experiences that await you in Kandy.