This time the world’s eyes will be on Kandy as it gets ready for another Esala Perahera procession. Furthermore, Kandy itself is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Sri Lanka’s last royal capital. While also being the hill capital of our country, Kandy is the most famous for its Temple of the Tooth, the Dalada Maligawa and a host of temples around the town.
While Kandy can be referred to as a ‘city’ it is indeed a sort of bustling town in a valley where buildings in the city itself don’t exceed more than three storeys. The Dalada Maligawa is the main attraction and also the most sacred Buddhist establishment in Sri Lanka where the Buddha’s Tooth Relic is kept. Built in the 16th century but improvements and additions have been made to this structure until the fall of the Kandyan kingdom with a golden canopy added recently in the aftermath of the LTTE bombing about 10 years ago. Daily rituals are being carried out at various offering times in the shrine and a dress code applies for entering the temple.
The magnificence has been enhanced by the octagonal pavilion. Adjacent to the Dalada Maligawa are three of the four major Hindu shrines taking part in the Kandy Perahera. These shrines are dedicated to Gods Vishnu and Natha and Goddess Patthini. The fourth shrine is further towards the town. Visitors to these shrines could witness the Hindu religion customs though most of the worshipers today are Buddhists. Hindus taking part in the Buddhist pageant is a good example of the Sinhala and Tamil co-existence that lasted for centuries. Four of the last Sri Lankan kings were of South Indian origin.
Kandy is surrounded with many major Buddhist temples. On the shores of the lake are Malwatta and Asgiri temples. Fine painted murals of Buddhist stories in these temple buildings are a good example of the arts in the Kandy period while paintings of the Hindagala temple at Peradeniya are of the 7th century. The Lankatilake temple is a magnificent building built on rock at a scenic location which also has fine paintings. Once a pleasure gardens of a Kandyan Queen this land is the Royal Botanical gardens of 40 hectares which is a beautiful park with numerous tropical foliage and the best orchids in the island.
Situated around Kandy is the Gadaladeniya Temple which is a 14th century temple, influenced by South Indian architecture and built on a rock. Further on, is a highly preserved UNESCO site called Embekke where intricate wooden carvings of the 14th century shrine is dedicated to God Kataragama with a Buddhist temple nearby.
One of the stunning things to see in Kandy is the Esala Perahera.
Kandy is also a good source of souvenirs or to experience many cultural performances at it’s various hotels in the city. From the cultural perspective, Kandy holds a good cultural show at the Kandy Arts Association (daily at 5pm) and you can get a feel to Kandyan drumming and dancing.
Also, don’t forget to get your arts and crafts from the various handicrafts around the town which is a memento of your visit to Kandy!