Kandy is the cultural capital of Sri Lanka and the second largest city in the island country after Colombo. The city lies within the central province of Sri Lanka and is surrounded by hills from all around. It has small in size and has a pleasant climate which makes a much enjoyable city than Colombo.
This city was declared as a world heritage site by UNESCO 1988, it was the capital of the country before the colonial era when Kings still ruled the island. This city is a great place to experience culture, meet the people, taste the cuisine and experience the natural beauty of Sri Lanka.
What I Learned About Kandy
Kandy is an old Sri Lankan city, it is rich in culture and has some important heritage sites. The city is the ancient home of the Kandyan Kingdom and hence it is also the city which houses the Royal Palace. It is a small city and you can cover most of it in a day’s walk. It has a pleasant tropical weather all year round, it is well connected with the rest of the country and is a major hub for trade in the central and hilly provinces of Sri Lanka. If you like shopping there are few streets in Kandy which offer unique items at surprisingly low prices and if you’re looking for some calmness, an evening by the Kandy lake can be healthy for your mind. It is a beautiful city which I would love to visit over and over again.
Getting to Kandy
It is really easy to get into Kandy as it is well connected with other regions in the country. One of the most scenic routes to get here is by a train from Colombo or Badula, it is a beautiful ride and while the trains are slow it is an absolute delight to ride them.
One can also get here in a bus, hire a taxi or a minivan and even rent a bike. My honest suggestion would be an enchanting train ride or an adventurous bike ride. It takes about 3 – 4 hours to get to Kandy from Colombo.
When in Kandy
Although small this city has many places for a traveler to visit, most of them are in a close range while others are in the outskirts of the city. Here are some of the sights and places I’ve visited in Kandy.
Sri Dalada Maligawa
Along the northern part of the Kandy Lake is the golden roofed Buddha Tooth Relic temple which is also known as Sri Dalada Maligawa in Sinhalese. The entire complex covers a large area and along with the main temple there are other shrines and a museum.
This artificial lake was created in 1807 by the last ruler of the Kingdom of Kandy, Sri Wickrama Rajasinha. It is beautiful and one can spend a few hours in the evening by simply walking around the lake or enjoying the sights from one of the lakeside benches.
Degal Doruwa Raja Maha Vihara
In the outskirts of Kandy amidst the hilly forest is this 18th century cave temple which has murals with beautiful paintings depicting scenes from the Jataka stories.
The Bahirawakanda Vihara Buddha Statue is a 88 feet high buddha statue visible from a distance and easily accessible from all parts of the city. Travelers can climb up the statue from where it offers beautiful panoramic views of Kandy and some hills beyond the city.
Peradeniya Botanical Garden
A 20 minute bus ride from Kandy this botanical garden is maintained by the University of Peradeniya. It is the best botanical garden in Sri Lanka, which was initially started by the ancient king but the look was later changed by the British. This garden has a wide range of flora and one can even spot some beautiful birds towards the evening.
The ancient tea factory on the Hantana Tea Estate is now converted into a Tea Museum which is run by the Sri Lanka Tea Board and preserves the history of Ceylon Tea.
Kandyan Art Association
At the rear end of the Dalada Maligawa Temple is the centre of traditional arts and crafts, it is housed in a 175 years old building. It has traditional shows in the evenings which are based on stories about ancient Sri Lanka and they also sell some handicrafts and other traditional items.
Eating and Drinking
There are many bakeries in Kandy which offer a light snack and some soft drinks for those looking for a quick bite. There are other local restaurants which sell traditional Sri Lankan snacks and meals all day long, so be sure to explore a little and try out the local food. However are a few restaurants and bars which totally stand out from the rest.
- Bakehouse is a great place for delicious snacks and traditional meals with a scenic view of the city.
- Rockview is famous restaurant with a scenic view of Kandy city and is known for its Ceylon Tea served in earthern pots.
- The Pub is one of the very few high quality and a popular bar in Kandy. The food here is a little expensive, drinks are not and you can catch up with different travelers and a few locals at this establishment.
- Kandy Muslim Hotel is a popular eatery for its samosas which are known throughout the country. It is also popular for its variety of delicious kotthus.
- Devon Restaurant is a famous bakery with a massive menu. It has Sri Lankan, Indian, Chinese and even some western offerings.
- Victory Hotel is bar where you can meet many locals, try some Arrack and see the real Lankans in action.
- YMCA is a really affordable option if you are a solo traveler on a small budget, one can get a dorm here for about 700 LKR and a single room for about 1000 LKR.
- Kandy Downtown Hotel is a nice place if you’re looking for a small cozy room at an affordable price. Rooms here cost about 1500 LKR.
- Kandy City Hostel will charge about 2000 LKR with breakfast and it is a great place to meet other travelers.
I hope this helps you during your times in Kandy and if you have your own experience about the city feel free to share them in the comments, I would love to read them out.