Kandy is the capital of the central province of Sri Lanka, it is popular due to tooth relic temple, which is a part of the every Kandy city tour. 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. If you are a foreign traveller you must consider to make a trip to Kandy because a trip to Sri Lanka is not incomplete if you miss Kandy…Top 7 Places to Visit in Kandy
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 on a day trip?” , “what are the things to see in Kandy ?”, “What are the beautiful places in Kandy to visit on the Kandy city our?”, ” what are the places to see on a trip to Kandy?”.
All these queries are related to Kandy city tour because invariably they are asking for places in Kandy to visit in a city tour. Most places listed in this blog post coming in the Kandy sightseeing tour. I thought of making this descriptive note on several important places to visit in Kandy, in order to help the travellers, who plan a trip to Kandy. All the attraction mentioned below can be covered in a day tour to Kandy from Colombo.
What are the top 7 places to visit in Kandy?
- The Temple of the Tooth or Dalada Maligawa. …
- The Natha Devala. …
- Kandyan cultural show. …
- Royal Peradeniya Botanical Gardens. …
- Commonwealth War Cemetery. …
- Kandy Upper Lake. …
- Temple of teh tooth relic museum. ...
Visit 4 tourist hotspots – Peradeniya botanical garden, pinnawala elephant orphanage and tooth relic temple, Tea gardens in a one-day trip to Kandy from USD 35
What is the importance of Kandy?
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 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.
Weather in Kandy city
Kandy has a mild temperature compared to the scorching heat that dominates 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 30-35 °C with high humidity. But the climate of Kandy (central highland) is somewhat different, here you can feel the tropical rainforest climate.
Kandy is protected by mountains
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 a 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 control of Kandy and maintained a cordial relationship with the Kandy king.
- Highlights-Water rafting, Boat tour, Rainforest trek, Visit temples, Jeep safari
- Duration-4 Days
- Places- Pinnawala elephant orphanage, Kithulgala, Tooth relic temple, Sinharaja forest, Udawalawe national park, Mirissa, Galle Fort, Bentota
- Transport-Private vehicle
- Accommodation 3-star hotel
- Meals-Breakfast and Dinner
- Availability-From Nov 2019 to Nov 2021
Special Price US$ 550, save $125, Regular Price US$675
Kandy is the transport hub of Sri Lanka
Kandy is well-connected with the rest of the country and it is a transit point for most travellers since it is centrally located on the island. The city can be accessed by public transport such as trains and buses as well as private transport.
Trip to Kandy from Colombo
If you start your trip to Kandy from Colombo and have private transport, you will need around four hours to reach the city, but this average time mentioned here varied depending on the traffic, the distance between Colombo and Kandy is 120 km.
If you start your journey to Kandy from Colombo, you can easily find more affordable options for your journey such as buses and trains. They are as effective as any other transport method, especially on this route, and it saves tons of money against transport mode such as the taxi.
There are many Kandy bound trains starting from the main railway station of Colombo as shown below. Travelling by Intercity or express trains saves you a lot of time. The 1st class compartment is the most comfortable with well-cushioned seats and airconditioning.
Train timetable from Colombo main railway station to Kandy
Time 05:55:00 PODI MENIKE EXPRESS TRAIN
Time 07:00:00 A.C.INTERCITY
Time 07:00:00 INTERCITY TRAIN INTERCITY
Time 08:30:00 UDARATA MENIKE EXPRESS TRAIN
Time 10:35:00 COLOMBO COMMUTER
Time 12:40:00 EXPRESS
Time 14:20:00 INTERCITY – A.CINTERCITY
Time 14:20:00 INTERCITY – A.CINTERCITY
Time 14:20:00 COLOMBO COMMUTER
Time 15:35:00 INTERCITY – INTERCITY
Time 16:35:00 EXPRESS TRAIN
Time 17:45:00 EXPRESS TRAIN
Ticket Price from Colombo to Kandy
1st Class LKR 340.00
2nd Class LKR 190.00
3rd Class LKR 105.00
- Highlights- Kandy, Temple of the tooth relic, Royal botanical garden, Nuwara Eliya, Ceylon tea trails, Elle, Hiking
- Duration-4 Days
Places- Kandy, Nuwara Eliya, Elle
- Transport-Private vehicle and train
- Accommodation 3-star hotel
- Meals-Breakfast and Dinner
Special Price US$ 490, save $60, Regular Price US$650
How to book train seats from Colombo to Kandy
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.
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
Website of Sri Lanka railway department – http://www.railway.gov.lk
Using public buses from Kandy to Colombo
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 through 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 the destination of Colombo and vice a Versa at a predefined schedule. There is a large number of buses plying between Colombo city tour and Kandy each day and at least one bus leaves each destination every 30 minutes.
Temple of the Tooth – one of the most important attractions in Kandy
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.
Natha Devala – among the places to visit on the trip to Kandy
Natha Devala is a much smaller construction against Dalada Maligawa but it has historical importance compared Dalada Maligawa. It is believed to be originated during the reign of King Vikramabahu III (14th century). It is located on the same premises of Dalada Maligawa, opposite the octagon. Natha Devala is dedicated to Hindu god Natha and lesser important than Dalada Maligawa. Some travellers miss this important tourist attraction in Kandy, however, it is well worth of exploring this charm, uncrowded temple. In fact, you do not need to pay any extra money to visit this temple and just a few minutes walk from the tooth relic temple.
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.
International Buddhist Museum Kandy
Recently added intention Buddhist museum of Kandy is located next to the tooth relic temple. This is the first Internation Buddhist museum in the world. It has a fascinating collection of artefacts, paintings, Buddha statues and various other specimens related to Buddhism. The exhibits are collected from 17 countries such as Sri Lanka, India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, Japan, China, Korea, Indonesia, Thailand, Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia, Bhutan, and Afghanistan, which have Buddhists heritage.
The official residence of King Wimaladharmasuriya, which was converted to a Victorian Era building by the British administrators of Sri Lanka, is the venue of the museum.
Kandyan Cultural Show among the best things to see in Kandy trip
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.
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 not far away from the temple of the tooth relic you are only walking distance from the places, where these cultural shows are organized. Most trips to Kandy include Kandyan cultural show and you will be visiting it before entering the tooth relic temple.
Places to visit in Kandy – Royal Peradeniya Botanical Gardens
Peradeniya botanical garden is the biggest and most famous botanical garden on the island, and undoubtedly one of the most popular places to visit in Kandy. It is just 10 km from the city centre. 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 the garden by taxi or tuk tuk. If you are on a trip to Kandy from western and southern Sri Lanka you can easily visit the garden before entering Kandy city.
Some other important places to visit in Sri Lanka
After visiting the above-mentioned tourist attraction in Kandy if you still have some more time and like to explore some other important tourist attractions, here is a list of important tourist attraction in Kandy but less popular among the travellers.
- Commonwealth war cemetery
- Whakotte church
- Gadaladeniya temple
- Embekke temple
- Upper lake
Visiting Commonwealth War Cemetery on a trip to Kandy
The Commonwealth war cemetery of Kandy is one of the least visited places on the island, however, it is not coming under the important places to visit in Kandy. The cemetery is located near the centre of Kandy means that can be reached with ease. 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 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-among the important places to visit in Kandy
Upper Lake is one of the highest points of Kandy 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 of 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.
Gadaladeniya Raja Maha Vihara is the Buddhist temple with the largest stone structure in Sri Lanka. This masterpiece of stone carving and stone masonry is located in Pilimatalawe in the district of Kandy. It is about 10 km from Kandy. The temple is picturesquely nestled among mountains. It is surrounded by patches of forest, paddy fields and charming villages. Gadaladeniya temple is built on a rock about 100 meters above the surrounding area. A flight of steps carved on to the rock leads to the temple, on the summit of the rock.
The temple houses some of the most intricating stone carvings of Sri Lanka. The artisans have been able to produce a large number of stone sculptures of Buddha, animal figures and floral designs. The temple is completely built with granite stones. The gigantic stone pillars of the temple are decorated with beautiful floral designs.
The temple shows some Hindu influence and there are some similarities to Hindu temples. This opinion can be well maintained by the installation of a Hindu temple next to Gadaladeniya.
At the entrance of the temple is a dagoba built on a slab of rock which is about 5 meters above the ground. The dagoba is sheltered with a roof, which is supported by four pillars. The image house is built under the Dagoba.
The main image house of the temple accommodates several Buddha statues in meditation and standing postures. A spacious open verandah can be seen before entering the image house and it is built with large beautifully carved stone pillars. Partially gold-coloured meditating Buddha statue is placed in the middle of the house. Either side of the meditation Buddha statue is several other statues in standing posture. The main dagoba and image house is accompanied by four other image houses and dagobas.
The history of Gadaladeniya is dating back to 1300s. According to the inscription at the site, the temple was built by a minister called Senadilankara under the patronage of Dammakeerti Thera with the instructions of King Buwanekabahu 4th.
Gadaladeniya is not merely a Buddhist temple but also a masterpiece of stone carvings and masonry of ancient artisans. This archaeological site is considered as a must visited a place on the island. The temple structure is in very good condition but the paintings and plaster of the inner walls are in very dilapidated condition.
The Bo-tree of Gadaladeniya is residing in the temple since the beginning of the temple. The tree is also sharing the same granite rock as the image houses. A protective wall is built encircling the dagoba and material used for the construction is granite. This Bo-tree is a sapling of Bo-tree at Dewram Vehera in India.
Even though Gadaladeniya is a small Buddhist temple, is comprised of all major parts of the Buddhist temple namely Dagoba, Bo-tree, image house and living quarters of monks. At present, the temple is under the purview of the archaeological department and some renovations are carried out by the archaeological department.
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.
Places to visit in Kandy – historical church of Wahakotte
Wahakotte church is one of the important attractions in Kandy but not includes in the most trip to Kandy, because it is a little bit off the town. However, it is well-worth of inversion time to explore this beautiful historic church.
Wahakotte is a well-known pilgrim centre, enshrining a miraculous statue of St. Anthony of Padua (Italy), is among the important places to visit in Kandy. St Anthony is a Catholic Saint, born in 1195 in Lisbon (Portugal). At the age of 15, he entered the Augustinian Order and lived like a monk. But desiring to be a missionary he later joined the Franciscan Order and went to Morocco. Due to ill health, he was forced to return to Italy, where he became a famous preacher and wonder-worker.
There are thousands of recorded miracles attributed to St. Anthony during his lifetime and also after his death. He died in Padua, on 13th of June 1231 and Catholic celebrates his ‘feast’ on that day. Even after seven centuries, his tongue is miraculously preserved at Padua for public veneration as a sacred object. Eve non-Christian acknowledge that they have received favour by invoking his help.
The hands of St. Anthony had protected the people in the area over the past 400 years through the miraculous power. In relation to St, Anthony they have ancient handwritten prayers and hymns the village, crops, exorcise and invoke divine assistance. Often the Muhuppu (the chef laymen elected by the parish council especially to lead prayers and hymns and to be responsible for parish activities) recite these prayers as a special privilege and as a sign of living under the protection of St. Anthony. There are instances that help of St. Anthony is sought in order to inflict damage to others.
The name “Wahakotte” means, according to some villagers “the castle gate” (Wasala Kotte) and the village were so-called because it protected a palace, trace of which are still visible. Some others say that “Wahakotte” means poisonous pillow (waha-poison; Kotte=pillow) as a queen had committed suicide after hearing of her husband’s death at war. There is a legend to say that in 194 BC when King Dutugemunu defeated Elara, he built a small fortress at Wahakotte.
There are ruins of some ancient buildings on a rocky hill called Maligatenna (palace field) or Bagankotte. Wahakotte is so situated that one can observe the approaching enemy, even as far as the rocks of Dambulla towards Anuradhapura. However, there were royal connections to this village from the fact that some still pay a tax to Dahawa temple for the use of their paddy-fields. It is difficult to find out, whether they were Nindagam (belonging to aristocrats), Devalagam (belonging to the temple) or even Gabadagam (royal property). But some historical information reveals that earlier they paid tax to the royal ambassador, but later it was transferred to the temple.
Famous historian S.J, R, Rodrigo, begins his accounts on the history of Wahacotte with reference to 1582 when Rajasinghe of Sitawaka waged war against Kandy. At the time of this war, Karaliyadde Bandara fled to Trincomalee and died there of smallpox. Before his death, he became a Christian and entrusted his daughter Dona Katharina and Yamsinghe to the Portuguese. Yamsinghe too became a Christian at Goa under the name of Don Phillip. When the Kandyan began to oppose king Rajasinghe, Don Philip returned to Sri Lanka and was crowned at Wahakotte by the Portuguese.
After the death of Don Philip, Konappu Bandara seized the Kingdom of Kandy forcing Don Juan, the son of Don Philip, to flee. He fled, first to Wahakotte and via Goa to Portugal, where he became a priest. Konappu Bandara married Dona Katherina in order to consolidate his position as a king. Wahakotte was frequented by all those who had contacts with the Portuguese during this period, due to the fact that the route from Kandy to Trincomalee and Mannar was through Wahakotte.
Buddhist temple Devanagala
This historical temple is situated in Mawanella in the village of Devanagala, Sri Lanka. The site was named as Danasen pawwa, kithsen pawwa and Parana Nuwara in the past. But the present name of the site is Devanagala which is originated due to several reasons.
According to the well-known archaeologist H.C.P Bell the word Devanagala originated from two parts Dewana (second) + Gala (stone); the stone here is only second to the Batalegala when it compared to the size. The second explanation is, the site had been visited by God on his way to Alutnuwara. Therefore the site was named as the Deviyanwedi gala (the place where God had been), later the name became Devanagala.
Devanagala is located in the Sabaragamuwa province, it is surrounded by several picturesque mountains namely Urakanada, Utuwankanda, Alagalla. One can have a breathtaking view of the surrounding area from the summit of Devanagala. The area is dominated by lush green vegetation throughout the year.
The history of the temple expands over several centuries from the Anuradhapura period to the Gampola period. The history of the temple is ascertained by the artefacts discovered at the site though there is no written historical evidence about it. Stone inscriptions, dagobas, stone slabs carved with Buddha’s footprint and image houses are helpful information to discover the age of the temple.
The temple of Devanagala believed to be constructed during the reign of King Dhatusena and the temple was known as Dhasen pawwa. King Dhatusena lived in 5th Century A.D (Anuradhapura period) and the stone slab of Buddha’s footprint shows the characters of Anuradhapura period stone carvings. Even though there is no evidence dagoba also believed to be dating back to the same period as the footprint of Buddha.
Dagoba is located on the summit of the rock. The dagoba is constructed on a pond that collects water from the rain. The function of the pond is to lower the temperature of the immediate environment, thereby stops the damage (cracks) on the dagoba due to the high temperature. The same method is very often used by the ancient engineers in Sri Lanka for instance in the Sigiriya. There had been a water ditch with water surrounding the palace on the summit of Sigiriya to lower the high temperature.
It is believed that the temple had been given a prominent place during the Polonnaruwa period (during the reign of King Parakramabahu), due to one commander of the king’s army. The commander who lived in the village had been the commander of the regiment who invaded Burma. The forces of King Parakramabahu successfully invaded Burma under the supervision of the commander. In order to appreciate his service for the king, the commander was given control over Devanagala by the King.
The temple was given the patronage of King Wimaladharma Suriya 1 during the Kandyan period. Image house, statues and paintings of the temple show the characters of Kandyan style. It is believed that the tooth relic of Buddha had been was deposited in the temple as it was taking to Kandy.
There are three routes to reach the temple one is the via the Ayagama junction. The second route is along the Udapamunuwa road while the 3rd route is along the Katugahawatta road.
History of Kandy-Kandy during the colonial era (1505-1948)
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.
British gained control of Kandy
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 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.