Roaming Sri Lanka’s Sacred City of Kandy

When planning a tour to Sri Lanka, you should not miss to include in your itinerary the historic central part of the country. And one of the places worth to visit is the city of Kandy. Kandy city is regarded as one of the cultural meccas of Sri Lanka. It became the Royal capital of Sri Lanka for almost 2 centuries after it fell from British rule in 1815. British occupation brought significant development in the city. Edifices of western architectural influence are prominent around Kandy. Some of which are now converted to hotels like the Queen Hotel. Kandy is likewise considered as Sri Lanka’s seat of Buddhist philosophy. It is where the tooth of Buddha is kept in the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic. During the Kandy Perahera festival some time in August, the relic enclosed in golden casket is carried on the back of elephant and paraded around the city. Unfortunately, I came to Kandy more than two weeks after the festival. Kandy likewise is the starting point to get to Sri Lanka’s cultural triangle which includes the city itself, Anuradhapura and Polonnaruva.

Other than the cultural experience in Kandy, tourists journey to the city undeniably because of its scenic beauty and a laid back feel. Its topographical location brings cooler temperature at an average of 20 degrees centigrade (just like Baguio City). The cool breeze is conducive for walking around the city especially at Kandy lake. At evening when darkness starts to envelop the city, birds are flocking the trees and starting to twirp their loudest sound possible. They are competing with the sounds of drum beats from the temple that summons Buddha’s worshipers. Night in Kandy is quiet. By 9PM establishments are close. Few people are walking the streets and not so many tuktuks can be seen on the road. Kandy may not be the place for party goers but for those who love a relaxed and serene atmosphere.

View of Kandy, the city and its lake from my hotel early in the morning.

Going to Kandy takes more than 3 and a half hours. Tourists have options either to go by bus, train, or private cars. I took the 1 PM train from Colombo Fort in a 1st class cabin (not really first class) with a viewing room. Fare was only LKR 360 (around USD 3). I found it more safe and comfortable than taking the bus plus a bonus of seeing beautiful sceneries along the way. You may check the train schedule at Private cars are available, even from the airport, but it is quite expensive with one way fare of LKR 3500-4000 (USD 31-36).

In Colombo Fort, the railway station in Colombo City.

The scenic spots on the way to Kandy city.

Getting a vehicle to roam around the city is not difficult with hundreds of tuktuk plying around. A tour of the city is either offered by your hotel or by the tuktuk drivers approaching you from time to time. But I suggest to take the former. Tuktuk drivers but not all may take advantage of you being a tourist by raising the price and/or asking additional pay at the end of the trip. For Kandy View Hotel where I stayed, city tour for one day costs LKR 2,500 (USD 28).

Tuktuk, the primary means of transportation in the city, will bring you around Kandy and beyond.

A day in Kandy would not suffice to tour the whole city. I visited randomly spots in the city and unfortunately skipping some of the more historical ones, like the museums, other temples, among others.

Immersing with locals to experience what life in Kandy is. Before going to Elephant Sanctuary, I got a chance to drop by Kandyan family. Like Pinoys, they also are hospitable welcoming you to their abode and offering a tea while one by one introducing their family members.

Despite being predominantly Buddhist, Catholic Churches like the St. Anthony Cathedral towers the city. The vicariate of Kandy came about in 1883.

Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic is the most famous religious site in Kandy. Drum starts to roll during evening signaling the start of Buddhist worship. It is open then for well wishers and tourists who would want to explore the temple. (More of Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic in my post).

Kiosks line up outside the Temple selling flowers usually lotus to offer during the worship.

Gemstone makers are found in Kandy offering affordable gifts worth the money. The one we have visited is on the hilly part of Kandy and the view from there of the city was really amazing.

A Buddhist cemetery we have passed by on our way to Dambulla and Sigiriya. Catholic and muslin cemeteries are nearby.

After a tiring tour around the city, the tuktuk driver brought me to a massage spa for a relaxing whole body massage with a price of USD 20. You may have other option that will make you happier, just talk to the attendant.

The Pub is the famous hang out station for tourists and locals alike. I had my dinner at the Pub with a bottle of their local beer. It was a nice treat for my last night in Kandy.

The Queen Hotel

A marker in honor of the Prince of Wales visit to Kandy in 1875.

The Kandy market

The Ceylon Bank in Kandy.

Kandy has a lot of other beautiful places to offer, more to explore. But those are something I am looking forward to one day.#