Top 7 Places to Visit in Kandy
Kandy is one of the most visited cities in Sri Lanka and a large number of travellers are heading to this charming city every day. This article is about the top 7 places to visit in Kandy because a large number of our readers ask questions like what are the “places to visit in Kandy” and “what can we see in Kandy”. Therefore I thought of making a descriptive note on several important places to visit in Kandy, giving vital information that helps the visitors of Kandy. All the attraction mentioned below can be covered in a day tour from Colombo.
Kandy is the capital of the central province of Sri Lanka. Probably there is no other city on the island with a calm and serene atmosphere like in Kandy. Kandy is the cultural hub of the island, where Sri Lanka’s culture and tradition can still be seen alive than anywhere else on the island. So don’t forget to head to this beautiful charming city during your Sri Lanka road trip and discover some of the important historical and cultural places to visit in Kandy. You will not regret by drop-into this beautiful city because it offers many interesting places to visit and things to do.
Kandy has a mild temperature compared to the scorching heat dominate in most other parts of Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka is a country in the tropics, therefore, most parts of the island such as northern Sri Lanka, western Sri Lanka, southern and eastern parts of the country records high-temperature 30-35C with high humidity. But the climate of Kandy (central highland) is somewhat different, here you can feel the tropical rainforest climate.
Kandy is surrounded by two mountain ranges Knuckles mountain range and Hanthana mountain range, which functions as a natural shield and protect the city from the outside world. It is well-known fact that Kandy kingdom maintained its independence during the Portuguese and Dutch administration in Sri Lanka, while the Portuguese and Dutch were able to bring entire low-country under their control. This was a direct outcome of the inaccessibility to Kandy from low-country of Sri Lanka. Densely foliage hilly outcrop made it difficult for foreign forces to penetrate the Kandy border, furthermore, the indigenous guerrilla type army made even more difficult for foreign forces to survive the war. At last, the Portuguese and Dutch administration had given up their intention of taking the control of Kandy and maintained a cordial relationship with the Kandy king.
As low-country (maritime region) was controlled by Portuguese and the Dutch for 300 years, but Kandy maintained it’s independence during this period. There had been a lot of changes in the customs, traditions, language and religion of the low-country people of Sri Lanka under the Portuguese and Dutch administration. They were forced to learn the foreign languages, they were forced to embrace Christianity and government patronage for culture and tradition ended and typical Sinhalese values were diminished. During all these changes in the low-country, still, the people of Kandy had been able to maintain the authentic Sri Lankan values. Therefore Kandy is given a well-deserved recognition and respect for its dedication and bravery of protecting values of Sri Lanka and Kandy has become the cultural centre of Sinhalese race.
But, the king of Kandy was not able to withstand the foreign forces for long, as the Dutch fled the country with the arrival of British forces. The new invaders revived the effort to take the control of Kandy. And this time they were much stronger in the firepower while they used several local opponents of the king to apprehend him in 1976. Kandy was the last capital of Sri Lanka dynasty and it was brought under the British rule in 1796 ending the sovereignty of Sri Lanka.
Kandy is a well-connected city with the rest of the country and it is a transit point for most travellers since it is centrally located on the island. The city can be accessed by public transport such as trains and buses as well as private transport.
If you start your journey from Colombo and have a private transport, you will need around four hours to reach the city, but this average time mentioned here varied depending on the traffic, the distance between Colombo and Kandy is 120 km.
If you start your journey to Kandy from Colombo, you can easily find more affordable options for your journey such as buses and trains. They are as effective as any other transport method, especially on this route, and it saves tons of money against transport mode such as the taxi. There are many Kandy bound trains starting from the main railway station of Colombo as shown in below. Travelling by Intercity or express trains saves you a lot of time. The 1st class compartment is the most comfortable with well-cushioned seats and airconditioning.
Train timetable from Colombo main railway station to Kandy
05:55:00 PODI MENIKE – EXPRESS TRAIN 07:00:00 1009 – A.C. – INTERCITY 07:00:00 INTERCITY TRAIN – INTERCITY 08:30:00 UDARATA MENIKE – EXPRESS TRAIN 10:35:00 – COLOMBO COMMUTER 10:35:00 – COLOMBO COMMUTER 12:40:00 – EXPRESS TRAIN 14:20:00 INTERCITY – A.C. – INTERCITY 14:20:00 – COLOMBO COMMUTER 15:35:00 INTERCITY – INTERCITY 16:35:00 – EXPRESS TRAIN 17:45:00 – EXPRESS TRAIN
Ticket Price 1st Class LKR 340.00 2nd Class LKR 190.00 3rd Class LKR 105.00
How to book train seats
Train tickets can be reserved in advance, but this facility is available only for selected trains. Some mobile telecom service such as Mobitel allows you to book train tickets using their mobile network. Or one can show up at the main railway station and make the necessary arrangements for the upcoming train ride. Reservation of train seats can be done by Dialing 365 from Mobitel/Etisalat Phone Lines and 1365 by SLT phones. The reservation should be done 30 days ahead of the planned journey for Intercity/AC Intercity Trains, due to high demand.
Rajadhani express allows you to book seats online, but at the time this blog post is written the service is temporarily unavailable due to some maintenance of the website. Anyway, I mention their URL here and you can check if it works. https://rajadhani.lk
Travellers can make advance reservations by visiting the below-mentioned railway stations, 30 days prior to the journey and you need to contact the station master. More information can be obtained over the phone.
Colombo Fort Railway Station (Reservation Office) – 011-2432908
Kandy Railway Station – 081-2222271
Badulla Railway Station – 055-2222271
Anuradhapura Railway Station – 025-2222271
Vauniya Railway Station – 024-2222271
Jaffna Railway Station – 021-2222271
Using public buses to go to Kandy
Using public buses to go to Kandy is another effective option against expensive taxis, but it time consuming compared to train travel or travel by private transport. Kandy is the logistics hub in the mountain, therefore, Kandy can be accessed by direct buses from all major cities in the island. Getting around in Kandy by bus helps you to save money though it might demand you more time than other transport options.
Public buses available with air-conditioning but the rates of the air-conditioned buses are double the rates of buses without air-conditioning. Time taken to travel from Colombo to Kandy by public bus is around 4 hours because they make frequent stops when passengers are getting off and getting on. Busses are available 24 hours a day and leave destination of Colombo and vice a versa at a predefined schedule. There is a large number of buses plying between Colombo and Kandy each day and at least one bus leaves each destination every 30 minutes.
Following are Top 7 Places to Visit in Kandy
The Temple of the Tooth or Dalada Maligawa
The temple of the tooth or better known as Dalada Maligawa is the most historical and important attraction in Kandy. Undoubtedly it is the most important Buddhist temple on the island too. Temple of the tooth is a must visited place in Kandy, failing to do so make your trip to Kandy is incomplete. Temple of the tooth relic can be compared to Mecca in the sense of religious importance for Buddhists in the island. For tourists, it is a beautiful temple complex that showcases the typical Sinhalese architecture. The present beautiful temple dates back to the 18th century AD and it is a classic example of the Typical Kandyan architectural construction. It is worth to have a close look at the wooden columns, reapers, doors, windows and other wooden parts with highly intricate designs and carvings.
The Natha Devala
Natha Devala is a much smaller construction against Dalada Maligawa but more historical than Dalada Maligawa. It is believed to be originated during the reign of King Vikramabahu III (14th century). It is located in the same premises of Dalada Maligawa, opposite the octagon. Natha Devala is dedicated to Hindu god Natha and lesser important than Dalada Maligawa.
Natha Devala comes to the fore with the beginning of Esala ceremony in the month of July/August. Natha Devala is given an important share of the annual procession of Dalada Maligawa signifying the coexistence of different religions together. The temple consists of a huge open hall and a small shrine room. Nath devala shows many similarities to Embekke devala with main hall consisting of a large number of beautifully carved wooden columns while the shrine room is a construction of granite. Natha Devala is located just opposite of the temple of the tooth relic, near the living quarters of the monks.
Places to visit in Kandy-Dalada Maligawa Museum
Dalada Maligawa museum is located just behind the main building of the temple of the tooth. It had been the living quarters of the queen and her retinue. Today it is used as the museum and a large number of artefacts including pottery wear, jewellery, statues, and Ola manuscripts are housed in the museum. Recently the Dalada Maligawa museum was modernized and many new features were added to the site. Today the museum showcases artefacts, statues, paintings and article of some other Buddhist countries in the region. Different quarters of the museum is allocated to different countries and features Buddhist heritage in each country.
Go to a Kandyan Cultural Show
A visit to a cultural show is the best way to experience the typical Kandyan styled acrobatic dances, music, and colourful dancing costumes. School of Kandyan dancing was born here, in Kandy. It was under the influence of low country and Sabaragamuwa dancing and shows characters of other leading dancing too. Usually, there are several places where the performance is taking place. Don’t miss out this opportunity to see the typical Kandyan dancing performance. YMBA building, Red Cross society building and Awanhala are three leading places to witness the performance of Kandyan dancing with highly trained dancers.
Most places, where the cultural show is organized are located near the temple of the tooth relic. If you are based within the borders of the city and nor far away from the temple of the tooth relic you are only walking distance away from the places, where these cultural shows are organized.
Places to visit in Kandy – Royal Peradeniya Botanical Gardens
Peradeniya botanical garden is the biggest and most famous botanical garden on the island. It is just 5 km from the city of Kandy. This beautiful garden spread over 147 acres and picturesquely located bordering the Mahaweli River and the park lies about 500 meters above the sea level. Today the garden is comprised of 4,000 species of trees, herbal plants, flowering plants, palms, orchids, and spices. The root of the botanical garden goes back to the Kandyan period. It was initially used as the pleasure garden of Kandyan king; later British administrators have established the garden by collecting plants and trees not only from Sri Lanka but also from many other countries in the region.
The distance from Kandy city centre to the royal botanical garden of Peradeniya is about 10km and it takes around 30 minutes to reach the botanical garden by public buses. It takes around 15 minutes to reach by taxi or tuk tuk.
Commonwealth War Cemetery among places to visit in Kandy
The Commonwealth war cemetery of Kandy is one of the least visited places on the island. The cemetery is located near the centre of Kandy. Earlier it was known as Pitakanda war cemetery. The cemetery comprised of 1 Commonwealth burial of the First World War (1914-1918) and 196 burials of Second World War (1939-1945). Another two non-world war burials and four foreign nationals are also buried here. Reaching the commonwealth war cemetery is difficult with the public transport. Because the narrow road that leads to the cemetery does not cover by the public buses. It would be a good idea to hire a Tuk Tuk from the city of Kandy to the cemetery and it would cost around 500 Rs, even the journey with taxi would not cost more than 1000 Rs.
Upper Lake is one of the highest points of the city and one of the most popular places to visit in Kandy. It is recognized as one of the places to visit in Kandy during a road trip to Kandy because it gives you a breathtaking birds-eye view over the city. It provides a clear bird’s eye view over the entire city. The viewpoint is located some 500 meters above the city towards the western corner of Kandy. There is no better place to enjoy a beautiful view over the temple of the tooth relic, Udawattakele sanctuary, Kandy Lake and modern bustling shopping area of the city. Upper lake gives you the opportunity to take the entire city into one snap even with a most ordinary camera. A winding road begins at YMBA is the route leads to the viewpoint and it takes about fifteen minutes to reach the destination from the city centre.
If you wish to explore this fascinating city by taking part in a private tour you can book our Kandy and Nuwara Eliya 2 days tour. This program includes many other interesting places such as elephant orphanage, tea plantations, waterfalls, Seetha Amman temple and many other places in this beautiful city of Kandy.