Kandy – the small town of Sri Lanka


Kandy – the cultural center of Sri Lanka, a sacred place for Buddhists, the city is also called Maha Nuwara, which means “The Great City”. It is located in the central part of the island, 115 km northeast of Colombo, on the banks of the Maheveli Ganga River.

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Video: Kandy


Kandy was originally called Senkadagala, after the hermit Senkad. The royal palace at Senkadagal was built by King Wickramabalu III of Gampola on the advice of the Brahmin, who chose this place as the most suitable to establish a capital. Surrounded by magnificent mountains with a huge lake and the longest river in Sri Lanka, Kandy was the capital of the kingdom from 1592 to 1815 when the island was incorporated into the British Empire.

Although much of Sri Lanka’s royal family perished at the hands of the British, the city of Kandy, the last stronghold of the local rulers, has managed to preserve its rich heritage. The most famous of the monuments is the so-called Temple of the Tooth. It is said to contain a tooth of Buddha, and the temple is considered a sacred pilgrimage site. Legend has it that the tooth was secretly brought here, hidden in the hair of a certain princess who snatched it from the flames of the funeral pyre. After the conquest of the city by the British, the tooth was taken to India but eventually returned to its place in Kandy and is kept in the temple built in the XVII-XVIII centuries.


Every year in the month of Esala (in July or August), Sri Lanka has its biggest festival, the Kandy Esala Perahera. It lasts ten days and ends on the night of the full moon, culminating in a procession of drummers, dancers and elephants. One of the elephants carries a canopy under which a replica of the Buddha’s sacred tooth is placed.

Next to Kotugodalle Veediya Street is the very beautiful Hindu temple of Kataragama Devale. A little to the west you will see three other beautiful temples of historical value: Galadeniya Vihara, Lankatilake Vihara and Embeke Devale.

Kandy is a major cultural center and the cultural traditions of the people of Sri Lanka – dance, music, crafts, religious customs – are kept sacred here. This city is the “capital” of the most important and most colorful Buddhist festival Kandy Esala Perahera. And very close to Kandy is the Peradeniya Botanical Garden, founded back in 1371 and is rightly considered one of the best in the world.

Sri Dalada Maligawa.

The main religious and historical monument of Kandy, or perhaps of the whole of Sri Lanka, is Sri Dalada Maligawa, the Temple of the Tooth. It is located on the north shore of Lake Kandy. As we see it today, it existed at the time of the Kandy State (1687-1782) . In 1998 it was badly damaged by terrorists but was totally reconstructed.

The relic room is crowned by a magnificent gilded roof, built with donations from former president Premadasa, who was killed by fanatics in 1993.

The tooth was found in ashes at the site of Buddha’s cremation in 543 B.C. It was brought to Sri Lanka in the 4th century A.D. The tooth was kept in Anuradhapura and later moved to Kandy, where it remained until the arrival of the Portuguese in the 16th century.

At a time when Europeans were struggling with local beliefs, the tooth was transported by them to Goa, where it was rumored to have been burned by Catholic priests.

However, the people of Kandy never believed this, claiming that a false tooth had been slipped to the Portuguese and that the real relic had been hidden. Subsequently, it was solemnly transferred to the Sri Dalada Maligawa Temple.

Today this temple is the spiritual and cultural center of Kandy. Pilgrims and tourists come here in an inexhaustible stream. Services, puja, are held at 6:00 am, 10:00 am and 6:00 pm. This is the best time to visit the temple.

Do not forget to dress appropriately: cover your legs and shoulders. As with all Buddhist temples, shoes must be removed before entering. Get ready for a personal inspection – a sad consequence of the civil war and terrorist attack in 1998. The puja is accompanied by an incredible cacophony of sounds, from drums to stringed instruments; in short, you are in for a unique experience.

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Sri Dalada Maligawa, Dalada Vidiya. Open: daily from sunrise to sunset. Entry fee is charged.


There is a museum at the Sri Dalada Maligawa temple. There is a large collection of precious donations given to the temple, historic paintings and photographs (including one taken after the terrorist attack in 1998) and a huge elephant dressed up for the Kandi Esala Perahera festival.

Open: 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Wed-Sat 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Closed: Sunday, Friday and public holidays. Entrance fee.

Nearby are the Kandy National Museum and the Archaeological Museum, which contains the regalia of the rulers and a copy of the 1815 treaty that transferred the sovereignty of Kandy to the British.

Dharmapala Mawatha. Open: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Wed. Closed: Sunday, Friday and public holidays. Entry fee.

Surroundings Kandy

Kandy is a very beautiful city. There are many sights, and certainly the main one is the Temple of the Tooth. You will surely enjoy a walk along the lake.

There are no significant monuments on its shores, except for the Buddhist monastery of Malwatta Vihara, located south of Sri Dalad Maligawa.

Nearby is the Hotel Suisse, the former residence of the British governor, built in the mid-nineteenth century. Today this old house is a beautiful hotel in the colonial style. The crowded city center, with markets, mosques, churches, and restaurants, is to the northwest of the island.

After the Temple of the Tooth, perhaps the most interesting attraction in the city is the Kataragama Devale Temple, located near Kotugodalle Vidiya Street. The temple is dedicated to Skanda, the Hindu god of war. It is decorated with magnificent carvings, paintings and tiles.

South of the Temple of the Tooth is the Kandy Cultural Center, which opened in 1984. Its staff is active in preserving and promoting the cultural traditions of Sri Lanka, and especially of Kandy. There is a museum and there are regular concerts of folk music and dance, including dancing on hot coals.

Victoria Rd. Open: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Admission paid.

Western Temples.

The most interesting things in the area around Kandy are in the southwestern hills. It is primarily three Buddhist temples (somewhat reminiscent of the Hindu temples).

The first is Embekke Devale, located 10 km from Kandy. The temple was built in the 14th century. Its carved wooden columns are covered with images of animals, birds, dancers and wrestlers. These columns were once in the audience hall of the palace of the rulers of Kandy.

Open: daily 8.30-17.00. Entrance fee is charged.

The Lankatilake Vihara Buddhist-Hindu temple is 2 km away, famous for its magnificent paintings from the Kandy period (1600-1800), stone carvings and pure Kandyan-style Buddha statues. You’re sure to enjoy the walking tour as the temple offers great views.

Open: daily 8.30-17.00. Entrance fee is charged.

The third temple is Galadeniye Vihara which is located 2 km from Lankatilake. You can easily reach it on foot. It is a Buddhist temple with a special outhouse for Hindus and was built on a rock in the 13th – 14th centuries. Its main attraction is the Moonstone at the entrance.

Open: daily 8.30-17.00. Entrance fee is charged.

Peradeniya Botanical Garden

The Peradeniya Botanical Garden is located 7 km from Kandy on Highway 1 towards Colombo. It is the oldest and most beautiful botanical garden in Asia, and covers over 60 hectares. The Mahaweli Ganga River divides it into three parts. In the beginning, it was a park laid out by the rulers of Kandy for their own enjoyment. The park became a botanical garden in the XIX century, under the British, and now it has about 4000 species of plants.

When you visit the Peradeniya Garden, you will see giant ficuses, royal palms, “double coconuts” from the Seychelles and plants from which various spices are produced. The trip here from Kandy takes a full day. Keep in mind, there is a good Royal Botanical Gardens cafeteria at the entrance to the garden, not cheap by Sri Lankan standards, but with excellent and varied cuisine. You can also buy a reasonably priced and quite informative Illustrated Guide to the Royal Botanic Gardens at the entrance. With it you won’t miss anything interesting.

Sirima Bandaranaike Mawatha. Open: 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily. Admission is charged.

Robert Knox.

The state of Kandy remained mysterious, almost mythical, until 1815, before it was conquered by the British. But the first Englishman arrived here as early as 1660. It was Robert Knox, an English sailor who was taken prisoner in the mountain capital. Knox spent almost 20 years in Sri Lanka. After his escape and return to England, he published a book, A Historical Sketch of Nylon (1681), which still remains the most valuable source of information about the history of the Kandyan state (1597-1815) .

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Robert Knox, a young sailor from London, set foot on the Lankan shore at the mouth of the Mahaweli Ganga, near Trincomalee, and was captured by the warriors of the ruler of Kandy, Rajasingha II, who brought him to the capital of his state, where he was surprised to meet other European captives. The Dutch, French, Portuguese and English enjoyed some personal freedom here, but could not leave the city and had to observe the rules of court etiquette.

It must be said that Knox’s stay in Kandy was quite comfortable. He was allowed to open his own business and buy a house. Moreover, he was even free to marry, but chose not to do so, lest the bonds of marriage interfere with his flight. However, he noticed that extramarital affairs were widespread here and were not condemned. To some extent this was due to the caste structure of society: men of higher castes were allowed to have relations with women of lower castes, but they could not marry them.

Knox writes that people lived a simple life, their main food was rice and various vegetables, fish and meat were much rarer on the table.

Rajasinha’s rule was rather lenient, although executions were still carried out. Despite his relative prosperity, Knox dreamed of freedom. In 1679 he fled to the north of the island, occupied by the Dutch, and later returned to England. In his account of the state of Kandy there is at times a European prejudice, but on the whole it can be said that the Englishman liked the people among whom he lived. Knox describes them as “kind and friendly, efficient and enterprising, very sincere and almost never quarrelsome.

General Information on Kandy

Kandy, Sri Lanka


Kandy (Kandy, Mahanuwara) is a city in the center of the island of Sri Lanka and the capital and cultural center of the central province and the former ancient capital. Kandy is located 120 kilometers from Colombo and 100 kilometers from the main international airport Bandaranaike, at an altitude of 500 meters above sea level (Kandy on the map ). The population is just over 160,000 people, which is considered a large city by local standards, it is the sixth largest in Sri Lanka.

Kandy was founded in the 14th century by King Vikramabahu III. In 1592 the city became the capital of the Kingdom of Kandy, as it was then called the state that occupied the island. Then the main shrine was placed here and the tooth of the Buddha, which is kept here to this day, and is a place of attraction for tourists and pilgrims.

Holidays in Kandy

Traditional performance in Kandy, Sri Lanka

Traditional Performance

Kandy is a high altitude city located 500 meters above sea level, surrounded by mountains and hills covered with green blankets of tea plantations. In 1988 it was included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and since then it has always attracted tourists. It is part of the Cultural Triangle of Sri Lanka.

There are no beaches, to the nearest beach from here tens of kilometers. Holidays in Kandy is quite a different plan – to explore the culture, sights and natural beauty in the surrounding area. Most tourists visit Kandy as a one or two-day group tour, often en route to other attractions in the center of the island. For such a trip you can see only the main attraction – the Temple of the Buddha’s tooth (Sri Dalada-Maligawa). But the culture of the city during such a visit tourists are not fully aware of, and to feel the spirit of the cultural capital of the country, you need at least a few days. Therefore, if you have the opportunity to come to Kandy on their own for 2-3 days, and see for yourself its attractions, slowly walk the streets of the city, markets, to talk to people, to visit a traditional dance show and walking on coals, you will not regret it. But if you want to fully explore the central region of the country, go trekking in the mountains, engage in outdoor activities, practice meditation, it will take at least a week.

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Gadaladeniya Viharaya Temple in Kandy, Sri Lanka

Gadaladeniya Viharaya Temple

In addition to Kandy itself, a very interesting attraction is the road to the city in the central provinces of Sri Lanka. It passes through picturesque mountains sheltered by endless tea plantations and filled with natural and architectural sights. Kandy can also be a starting or intermediate point for a visit to other central island tourist destinations such as Nuwara Eliya, Ella, the Horton Plateau, Adam’s Peak and others.

In our Kandy travel guide, we’ve put together all the information you need to make your own travel arrangements, learning all about sights, hotels, directions, transportation and other things to do on your own.

Kandy Tourism Infrastructure

Buddhist Temples in Kandy, Sri Lanka

Buddhist Temples in Kandy

The main tourist and walking area in Kandy is located around the artificial lake in the center of the city. The main street where the infrastructure is concentrated is Dalada Vidaya.

The infrastructure for tourists in Kandy is well developed, but still do not forget that this is not a resort area, and the city. There are many hotels, excursions and traditional shows, and restaurants for tourists, but all this is not on every corner.

There are a lot of hotels in Kandy, you won’t have any problems with accommodation, although it is still better to look and book accommodation in advance, as there is no single street or tourist place of concentration of hotels, they are scattered all over the city. A similar situation with travel agencies and excursions: here you can not just walk down the street and go to the travel agencies at every step, so it is difficult to find them. Therefore, the distribution of excursions and tickets for traditional dance performances is most often done through hotels. Read more about hotels in Kandy here.

As for food, there can also be some difficulties with this in Kandy. There are few tourist cafes here, and European food on the street is almost impossible to find. More often than not, tourists eat at hotel cafes, which are not always cheap. Even if your hotel or hostel does not have a restaurant, you can easily come eat at another hotel. Here are good restaurants for tourists: Kandy Muslim Hotel (Dalada Vidiya), Devon Restauraunt (Dalda Vidigya, 11), Bake House (36 Dalada Vidiya), Avanhala (Sangaraja Mawatha, north of the lake). Also north of the lake you can find KFC and Pizza Hut.

There are not many large shopping malls in Kandy, but the Kandy City Centre, close to the lake to the east, is very modern and one of the largest in the country. You can find everything there. The other stores are mostly to the northeast of the lake, where you can find supermarkets with food. For tourists are of interest are many shops with souvenirs, antiques, jewelry. In such stores there is no shortage.

Weather in Kandy – Seasons to visit

Kandy, Sri Lanka

Kandy in Rainy Season

Although by and large it doesn’t really matter if it’s raining or not when sightseeing in Kandy, it’s still best to refrain from visiting the central area during the rainy season, which peaks in October and November. The best time to visit Kandy is the dry season between January and March. It rarely rains, the skies are always clear, and the hills and mountains around Kandy are not shrouded in fog.

Tourist seasons in Kandy by month, when is the best time to go

Jan Feb March Apr May June July Aug Saint October Nov Dec

* Best time to visit; acceptable time to visit; not recommended time to visit

Kandy weather and forecast

Kandy Attractions

Royal Peradeniya Botanical Gardens in Kandy, Sri Lanka

Royal Botanical Gardens

There are not many sights in Kandy itself, so one full day is enough to see them all. The main attraction is the Temple of the Buddha’s Tooth, which is what most tourists come here for. After the Temple of the Tooth, it is worth checking out the Anglican Church of St. Paul, which contrasts in architecture and content with dozens of Buddhist temples around. Nearby is the National Museum and Harrison Cemetery. Well, if you have enough time, you can stroll through Udawatta Kele Sanctuary Park, which is a jungle in miniature in the center of the city. In the evening, be sure to attend one of the traditional dance shows.

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Five minutes from the center is the most beautiful botanical garden of Sri Lanka – Peradeniya. Also in the surrounding area should visit the tea museum, several magnificent and unique temples with a very old history.

As for entertainment, there are not many of them in Kandy, or rather, in the city for tourists at all. But you can go out of town on a trekking in the jungle, take a boat ride on the river, do meditation, or a trip to one of two elephant nurseries. All this is offered by local travel agencies, but you can also go to the elephant nurseries on your own. There are not many evening activities in Kandy, just a few bars, mostly along the main street Dalada Vidaya. But there’s not much variety, and besides, everything closes early. After 10 o’clock, the town mostly goes to sleep and the streets are empty. Read more about attractions and entertainment in Kandy here.

Getting to Kandy

Bus Station in Kandy, Sri Lanka

Kandy Bus Station

Kandy is most often visited as part of group sightseeing tours. Such tours come in one-day tours, where the group is taken to the city for a day and is introduced to the Temple of Buddha’s Tooth and the Royal Botanical Gardens of Peradeniya. There are also tours with overnight stay, and then tourists are given free time to walk around the city. Buy such tours can be at any resort in Sri Lanka.

But if you want to visit the city for a longer period, or just go here for a day with overnight stay, no problem to get here from anywhere in Sri Lanka will not be difficult. You can come to Kandy by train, bus, cab, or even by plane. Learn more about all the ways to get to Kandy here.

Useful Tips

Street in Kandy, Sri Lanka

The Street in Kandy

  • Safety. Kandy is not considered a dangerous place, but women traveling alone should be careful. There have been several cases of single women travelers being abused during evening walks around the lake and around the Udawatta Kele Sanctuary Park.
  • Internet. There is no problem with Internet access in Kandy; every hotel has WiFi. Cafes and restaurants in the center also have access.
  • Medicine. A hospital with English-speaking staff is the Lakeside Advertist Hospital at the south end of the lake.
  • Money Exchange, ATMs. Exchange offices and banks with ATMs can be found on and near Dalada Vidiya Street. By the way, the exchange rate here is not very favorable, even lower than at the airport.
  • Bikes for rent. We were never able to find a motorbike/motorbike rental in Kandy to go around the area. But you can rent a motorcycle at the popular resorts of Negombo, Hikkaduwa, etc., and come here on it. If you know of a place in Kandy where you can rent a motorcycle, feel free to share this information in the comments.
  • Picturesque Routes. If you plan to go from Kandy to the Badulla (Nuwara Eliya, Ella) side, it is best to go by train, as it is one of the most scenic routes in the world.
  • Hotels in Kandy. When you arrive at the bus or train station, you will be attacked by “helpers” offering hotels and tours in the city. Under various deceptive pretexts they will try to lure you into hotels, where they get a commission for you. Do not take their word for it, that the hotel where they take you is located near the center, most often it is just the opposite. It is best to come to Kandy with a hotel already pre-booked.
  • Alcoholic Beverages in Kandy. Kandy is a sacred city for the locals, so there are strict restrictions on the consumption and sale of alcohol. It is hardly served in restaurants and cafes, the sale is completely prohibited during religious holidays. You can buy alcohol only in a few specialized liquor stores (Wine shop) in the city center.
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Центральная Шри-Ланка admin 30 Ноябрь, 2017 На сайте представлены путеводители по центральным городам и достопримечательностям Шри-Ланки:r>Культурный треугольникr>Анурадхапураr>Михинталеr>Полоннаруваr>Кандиr>Сигирияr>Пидурангалаr>Дамбуллаr>Пик Адамаr>Бадуллаr>Пинавеллаr>Лес Синхараждаr>Мулкиригалаr>Кандиr>Нувара-Элияr>Хапуталеr>Бандаравелаr>Путеводители будут дополняться.r>Feel free to ask questions and discuss travel to these places in this thread. Edits to guidebooks are welcome :SUPER .

Re: Central Sri Lanka Literate Jan 5, 2018 Fix at least Pinavella to Pinnavela. In English too .

Re: Центральная Шри-Ланка admin 5 Январь, 2018 r>Thank you for noticing. As it happens, the first time you remember it, you pronounce it that way. It was the same with Polonnaruwa-Pollonnaruwa. It took me a long time to relearn it…

Re: Центральная Шри-Ланка Амна 10 Октябрь, 2018 Ассаламу Алейкум.r>хотела бы спрасить. могу ли я найти в шриланке халал едуr>спасибо.r>And I’m sorry for the mistakes.

Re: Центральная Шри-Ланка admin 10 Октябрь, 2018 r>Hello! Yes you can, but this cuisine is not very widespread. Look for Muslim hotels, they have such restaurants .

Re: Central Sri Lanka Paul112244466 11 November, 2018 Here you write “you can still get from Matara to Bandarawella” and what bus? What is the number? How does it go? If you write a guide, write all the information, or limit yourself to exactly what you know.

Re: Central Sri Lanka helka 19 Nov, 2018 Good afternoon, can you tell me if there are lockers in Polonnaruwa or where you can leave your suitcases if you arrive there in the morning, walk around the Ancient City and then leave by bus to Kandy . .

Re: Центральная Шри-Ланка admin 19 Ноябрь, 2018 r>Не уверен, что камеры ранения там есть. Вернее, скорее уверен что их нет, т.к. там вход и контроль билетов прямо на улице, помещения для хранения нет. Может что-то есть в офисе по продаже билетов, но вряд ли ланкийцы до такого бы додумались. Если реально искать место, где оставить вещи, то лучше всего на ж/д станции, так должны быть камеры хранения, как и на всех других станциях. Ну на крайний случай можно попробовать договариваться за символическую сумму с персоналом кассы по продаже билетов или зайти в первый попавшийся отель и на ресепшене договориться. Последний вариант рабочий и проверенный 100%.r>If I were you, I would think about whether you could do it without an overnight stay. I understand if it is with a tour or in a car with a driver. But to arrive in a new unfamiliar city, find a place to leave your luggage, find the ticket office, get to the entrance, to move over a huge area. In addition, you need something to move around the city, the distance is great. You’ll have to find a tuk-tuk for the day. IMHO, knowing how hard it is to travel in hot countries, I would arrive in the evening, get some sleep, and start looking around the park early the next day. .

Re: Центральная Шри-Ланка helka 2 Декабрь, 2018 Спасибо большое за ответ. Дело в том что мы приедем и так с утра, так как будем ночевать в Дамбулле, и планировали снять тук-тук на целый день.r>We’ve already booked a cheap hostel, that’s where we’ll leave them. )) And overnight hopefully will be in Kandy, because if we arrive in Polonnaruwa at 10 hours to 16 hours I think the time will be enough to look at the most important, especially on a tuk-tuk.

Re: Центральная Шри-Ланка admin 2 Декабрь, 2018 r>Well, in principle, yes, in 6 hours you can take a tuk tuk. Determine for yourself the most important things to see. I hope you read our guide to Polonnaruwa. .

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