Perfectly located in the heart of Sri Lanka, Kandy – the UNESCO site in Sri Lanka, was once the capital of the old-aged Kings. Kandy remains one of the most impressive cultural and religious centers of Sri Lanka. It not only converges the most sacred relic – the Tooth of Buddha but also offers manifold wondrous attractions and sights from tropical forests to spice gardens and tea plantations. In your Sri Lanka vacation, it’s hard to miss a chance to visit and to be high on life in this incredible city. So, do you know all the highlights in Kandy? Well, let check out a list below and get yourselves wonderful Kandy attractions and the best things to do and see in Kandy.
Top 5 Exhilarating Things to Do & See in Kandy
Enjoy a Trip to Tea Plantation
Sri Lanka is at rank 4th in the world for tea production. They produce a staggering 300,000 tonnes of tea yearly! Kandy houses some incredible tea fields and factories so ensure that you will visit at least once. I went to the Embilmeegama Tea Factory which was founded in 1940. I took a trip around the factory, saw how the machines worked and then finished off with a tea tasting of their most prevalent teas. The whole process starting from picking to packaging takes a day with the majority (apart from picking) all done by large machines.
Stroll around the Kandy Lake
This is one of the best things to do and see in Sri Lanka that I like most because it’s so pleasant. Kandy lake, built-in 1807 is actually a man-made lake situated in the center of town. It is not impossible to miss it! There are manifold sites you can go to like the Royal Palace Park, the Udawatta Kele Sanctuary or simply around the lake marveling at the locals as well as everyday activities of Kandy.
Wander around the Botanical Garden
The Botanical Garden is Sri Lanka’s largest and most stunning garden with a staggering 2 million visitors a year. They’re very well-preserved, commodious and boast a huge variety of plants, flowers, bamboo forests, or animals like bats, monkeys & birds. The Botanical Gardens are known for its collection of orchids so don’t miss out on them. If you’re feeling lazy, golf buggies can be rented to explore the gardens instead of on foot.
Head to Spice Garden
Sri Lanka is renowned for its spices and spice gardens and indeed, there are manifold in and around Kandy. Your driver will no doubt take you to his favorite. We enjoy a trip and sample cinnamon, aloe vera and a variety of oils. It is an exhilarating place to see where and how these ingredients originate from as well as they are used in traditional medicines along with everyday life. The most popular spices used in Sri Lanka are cinnamon, cardamom, pepper, turmeric, and curry leaves. Curry leaves have been in every meal we’ve had and are apparently help your heart function better & fights infections.
Roam the Street & City Center in Kandy
It is simple but, is one of my favorite things to do and see in Kandy. Kandy city is very walkable. The Sri Lankan on the side of the road are very into chatting with you and will always ask where are you from. The moment I say “America” the next response is “Ah, basketball!”. Oh my, how do they know? I wondered that.
The city center shopping mall is a commercial and shopping complex in the center of town. This 10-story building has a variety of stores from souvenirs to electronics, clothes, and shoes as well as a food court. It is one of the only shopping malls in Kandy and a nice place to escape the heat.
Top 5 Fantastic Places to Visit in Kandy
Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic
Sri Dalada Maligawa or the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, alongside Adam’s Peak, is known as one of the most sacred attractions in Kandy – Sri Lanka and is an essential pilgrimage destination. The golden-roofed temple is supposed to house a tooth of Buddha and during the puja, the time of providing and prayers, travelers, as well as religious followers, are able to inspect the gold casket in which it is guarded. This Kandy attraction, itself, is situated in the royal palace complex that encompasses several temples as well as museums. the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic was believed that the holder of the tooth relic would also be the rightful governor of the country. Particularly noteworthy is the annual perahera, during that the tooth is paraded around the city accompanied by roughly 65 colorfully decorated elephants.
Dalada Maligawa Museum
Dalada Maligawa is one of the unique museums in Asia as well as exhibits a collection of relics, highlighting the spread of Buddhism throughout Asia to the rest of the world. It is the only museum of its kind showing a Buddhist exhibition of the religion’s global spread. The museum provides an insight into the development of the peaceful religion from the simple teachings of Buddha to differentiated systems and groups of followers across the globe. Travelers can follow its origins in India along with its eventual extension to other countries across Asia. This Kandy attraction is well worth the visit not just for followers of Buddhism but also for those who wish to get an insight into the cultural roots of Sri Lanka.
The Commonwealth Cemetery
The well-maintained Commonwealth Cemetery serves as a memorial for the soldiers who died in the defense of Sri Lanka in WWII. The site is a relic of the country’s colonial history and a witness to the turbulent changes the country has undergone throughout the years. The peaceful and serene ambiance of this resting place stands in stark contrast to Kandy’s bustling streets. Walking among the tombstones and reading the information about the fallen heroes is a unique experience. The cemetery dates back as far as 1817 and also serves as the last resting place for several young and old people who made Kandy their home in the previous centuries. The melancholy atmosphere is worth the trip, and don’t forget to make a donation to keep the immaculate cemetery as spotless as it has remained throughout the years.
Should you find yourselves in Sri Lanka in July or August, make your way to Kandy to admire the annual Esala Perahera procession, a historical event in which the Buddha’s sacred tooth relic is paraded through the streets. Next to various vibrant elephants, the procession includes numerous local dancers, drummers and fire play. The majestic elephants are decorated with glittering and colorful clothing and then, parade throughout the streets every evening – they increase in numbers until over 50 of these gentle animals fill the streets. The Esala Perahara commences with a water cutting ceremony by the Mahaweli River. Visitors wishing to get the best possible vistas of the Perahera should arrive early to take themselves a seat or should be prepared to pay high prices to acquire front-row seats.
Bahiravokanda Vihara Buddha Statue
Ideally situated on a hill where overlooks the city, lies Bahiravokanda Vihara, a giant Buddha statue, known as one of the city’s most notable religious monuments as well as one of the most stunning attractions in Kandy. Visitors can climb to the top of the hill within 1 hour; however, should be aware of the rising temperatures at noon. Once reaching the peak, Bahivara Kanda, or Devil’s hill, you are offered sweeping sceneries of Kandy and its surrounding region. The statue can be seen from most destinations throughout the city and is particularly charming at night when it is overwhelmed in light. Make sure to take off your shoes before entering the premises or enjoy the devotees offering flowers or light oil lamps in reverence to the almighty Buddha.