Tourist’s guide to Kandy – a sacred Buddhist city in Sri Lanka

Kandy (Sri Lanka) is an ancient city with a population of just under 200,000. For Buddhists of the whole Earth, this is not only a cultural, but also a spiritual center, a sacred place for all believers. Kandy is located in the center of the island, near Colombo (115 km). In this article, you can find out what to see in Kandy (Sri Lanka).

Kandy city, Sri Lanka

Last Sinhala capital

225 years (starting from the 16th century), the country was a sovereign state, but in 1815 it was captured by the British, and together with many other Asian and African countries it turned into a colony. However, the spirit of the people was not broken, and despite the fact that almost the entire royal family was killed, the city of Kandy in Sri Lankesumel not only preserve all cultural and spiritual treasures, but also increase them.

Sri Lanka President - Mahinda Rajapaksa
Mahinda Rajapaksa

Ceylon suffered a lot of suffering, one of which was the civil war between Tamils ​​and Sinhals. It lasted 20 years, and became one of the bloodiest in the history of mankind. Despite the fact that the military conflict ended in 2009, the country still has not recovered from losses: about 100,000 people were killed, and for a small Ceylon this is a huge figure. Also, many buildings were destroyed, and most can not be restored. The result of the civil war in Sri Lanka was the victory of President Mahinda Rajapaksa and the loss of the Tamil tigers.

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origin of name

In ancient times, the city of Kandy had a different name – Senkadagala, which means “the capital of growing magnificence”. This name was too long, so the indigenous people renamed their city to Maha Nuwara, which translates as “Capital”.

Surprisingly, today at many stations and buildings you can find both the modern and ancient name of the city of Kandy in Sri Lanka.

The city’s attractions

Almost all the attractions of Kandy (Sri Lanka) in one way or another connected with Buddhism – the faith of the indigenous people. Today, the city has no problems with tourists, because the cultural capital of Sri Lanka is one of the most beautiful and largest cities in the country.

So what to see in Kandy? Let’s see below.

Buddha Tooth Temple (Sri Dalada Maligawa)

As you know, after death, the Buddha was cremated. Only four teeth of the sacred teacher survived, one of which was brought to the main temple of Sri Lanka. The sanctuary is named after this event.

Buddha Tooth Temple

According to legend, the tooth of the Buddha has magical properties: the person who owns it has full power and can cope with any hardships.

They tried to destroy the holy relic for Buddhists many times: the last time was in 1998, when the Islamists blew up the temple. But the shrine is miraculously preserved, and still attracts the attention of Buddhists from around the world. Today it is the main attraction of Kandy, which must be seen.

At the Buddha Tooth Temple

The temple is part of the royal palace complex and is located in a small fenced area, and around it there is another temple, built after the city became the guardian of the shrine. The external building has a library and several small halls with a Buddha statue and a lot of old frescoes.

Due to the fact that earlier attempts were made to blow up the temple, today all tourists are examined at the entrance to the sights, and only then they are let through. By the way, men and women are probed separately from each other (this is due to the peculiarities of culture).

There are always fresh flowers at the entrance to the sanctuary. They should be taken if you want close (as far as possible) to approach the shrine.

Flowers at the Buddha Statue

On the second floor there is a line of believers who walk along the wall to the window into which they put flowers. Through this small hole you can see the hall, in which there is another window. It goes into the room where the Buddha’s tooth is located. The most amazing thing is that people who saw the shrine can be counted on the fingers.

The best time to visit the temple is 6.00, 10.00 and 18.00. It was at this time that one could look at pujas (a religious rite in Hinduism) and attend a service.

  • Location:  Kandy center.
  • Opening hours:  5:30 – 20:00.
  • The cost of visiting attractions:  1000 rupees.
  • Features: before entering the temple you need to take off your shoes.
Royal Palace
Royal Palace in Kandy

Kandy Palace is the last royal residence created in Sri Lanka. Despite the fact that today only ruins remained from the building to look at them, many tourists from all over the world still come.

It is worth saying that the royal palace played an important role in the history of the state. The royal courts took place here, and it was here that the Kandy Convention was drafted.

National Museum

Today, the Royal Palace is not only a historical landmark of Kandy, but also the national museum of Sri Lanka, which is also sometimes used for public ceremonies. In the museum you can see royal relics and historical artifacts.

  • Location:  Kandy center.
  • Hours:  9.00-19.00.
  • The cost of visiting:  1200 rupees.
Ranavan Purana Rajamaha Vihara Temple
Ranawana Purana Rajamaha Viharaya Temple

The Sanctuary of Ranavan is located 7 km from Kandy, and it is he who is one of the most beautiful temples in the country. The building stands in the middle of a large forest and seems to be part of nature. In order to find the sanctuary, you have to try.

The hallmark of the temple are Buddha statues of different ages and monks. The spectacle is really unusual: it seems as if the stone statues will now come to life and go to the temple for the ceremony. Due to the fact that the attraction is located in the forest, the atmosphere is soothing: peace and tranquility reigns around.

Buddha statues of different ages and monks
  • Location: Yatinuwara, Pilimathalawa. 7 km from Kandy or 900 meters from the Colombo-Kandy highway.
  • You can see what is in the temple from 6.00 to 20.00.
  • Cost of visit: 700 rupees.
Botanical Garden of Peradeniya
Botanical Garden of Peradeniya

Peradeniya is the largest botanical garden in Sri Lanka and one of the most beautiful in Asia, which has become popular thanks to a unique collection of plants of tropical flora.

When visiting this attraction, Kandy should pay attention to the avenue of commemorative trees, which was created with the help of famous people who have ever visited Sri Lanka (each honored guest planted a tree). The beginning of this tradition was laid by King Edward the Seventh and Russian Emperor Nicholas II.

Palm Alley in the Botanical Garden of Peradeniya

The Botanical Garden is also famous for its large collection of indoor plants. The uniqueness of this exposition is that it presents more than 100 species of orchids from different regions of the world. Lovers of plants at home will have something to see.

The palm grove is also noteworthy, in which you can also find interesting specimens (red camellia, gibraltarsky resin, coco, spotted lollipop).

Peradeniya Botanical Garden is one of the main and most interesting sights of Kandy. Do not miss the opportunity to visit her.

  • Location:  6 km from Kandy, Peradeniya Road, Peradeniya 20400, Sri Lanka
  • Opening hours:  7:30 – 17:30;
  • The cost of visiting:  1100 rupees – for tourists (for local residents – only 50 rupees).

Udawatta Kele Forest Reserve
Entrance to the Udawatta Kele Nature Reserve

Udawatta Kele Forest Reserve is located in the very center of Kandy, near the Temple of the Tooth Relic. Previously, the Royal Garden was located near the reserve. By the way, the name of this place is translated from Sinhala as “Garden located above the royal palace”. In 1856, this garden was transferred to the rank of a nature reserve, and in 1938 it became a sanctuary.

Today, more than 80 endangered species of birds (Japanese ibis, Ceylon lane, Far Eastern stork, etc.) and animals (macaque with bonnet, Indian muntzhak, rat bandicoot, rosy mongoose) live in the reserve.

Indian mountzhak in the reserve
Indian mountjack

Also in the reserve there are a large number of rare types of trees: large-leaved formations, green ficus, white magnolia, Ceylon iron tree. Separately, it is worth highlighting orchids, of which there are more than 80 species: two-color cymbidium, wanda, Japanese polystachy and others.

Ceylon Iron Tree - Tree of Nicholas II
Ceylon Iron Tree
  • Location Attractions:  Lovers Walk, Kandy, Sri Lanka.
  • Opening hours:  6:30 – 18:00.
  • Ticket price:  650 rupees.

For a one-day excursion from Kandy, it is convenient to get to the famous Dambulla Temple , located in the city of the same name.

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Perahera Festival

The famous Perahera Buddhist festival is one of the main events of the year for believers. And for tourists – a great opportunity to look at the old customs of Sri Lanka, get acquainted with the culture. We can say that this is one of the main intangible attractions of Kandy (Sri Lanka).

Perahera Festival

Esala Perahera is a ten-day holiday that symbolizes the veneration of the holy relic, i.e. Buddha’s tooth. The place of the holiday was not chosen by chance, because it is in Kandy that the Buddha’s tooth is carefully guarded, which we wrote about above. The shrine is taken out of the casket only once a year, and all believers get an amazing opportunity to be close to the treasure.

According to ancient legend, Perahera is carried out in order to appease the gods and send peace to Earth. This holiday is designed to end all wars and give peace to all the inhabitants of the planet.

Elephants at the Perahera Festival

The colorful festival is attended not only by monks from the main temples of the country and ordinary believers, but also by elephants, which are decorated with bright lanterns and full. The festive procession consists of dancers, musicians and torchbearers moving towards the Mahaweli River. The photos of Kandy (Sri Lanka) made during the holiday are truly fascinating: thousands of people merge into a single stream, which is visible from anywhere in the city.

Buddhist festival takes place in several stages:

On the first day, Kapural is elected – the main face of the carnival. Subsequently, this person will find the Esala tree and cut it into four parts (according to the number of main Hindu temples).

In the next five days, secret rituals are held in the sanctuaries, and on the sixth day they go on public display. These days, the abbot of the temple wears white clothes and participates in solemn processions.

Perahera carnival procession in Kandy

In the early morning hours of the procession, thousands of Asian Buddhists take to the streets to take their best places. Kandy transforms before our eyes: bright crowds of people adorn the city, and it becomes truly festive. At 21.00, when the moon appears in the sky, a cannon shot is heard, and a solemn procession begins to appear from the darkness. Look at the action from the side is very interesting.

Paradera Parade in Kandy

However, a parade in the cultural capital of Sri Lanka is just one small part of the celebration. During the festive weeks (11 days and 10 nights), numerous rituals are held, and the culmination becomes the magical rite of cutting the water. This ceremony is held in memory of the battle of Kataragama with the demons. Monks sing mantras throughout the night, and young girls who want to get married wash themselves at the fountain. It may be a holiday, but it lasts a very long time, therefore, after the completion of the ritual, the main square of the city is full of sleeping people and elephants.

Now we have answered your question, what to see in Kandy in Sri Lanka. This city also often becomes the starting point for a trip to Adam’s Peak, a sacred mountain. Detailed information about attractions is collected in this article .

How to get to Kandy?

The nearest airport is Colombo. You can get to Kandy by bus, taxi or train.

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From Colombo by bus
Bus from Colombo Central Bus Station

From the Colombo Central bus station in the direction of Kandy, buses leave 3-4 times per hour. A ticket can be purchased on the spot at the box office. The price of the issue is 150 Sri Lankan rupees. The journey takes 3.5 hours.

From Colombo by train

From the Colombo Colombo Fort train station, trains leave for Kandy 8 times a day: the first at 5:55 a.m., the last at 17:45. The journey takes from 2 hours 30 minutes to 2 hours 50 minutes. The price of a ticket in a third-class carriage is 105 rupees, the second – 190, the first – 500.

Train to Kandy

The path runs through a picturesque hilly area, the train periodically passes among tea plantations.

The schedule and current prices can be found on the website of the Sri Lankan Railway


Another, quite expensive, but convenient way to get to the place you need is a taxi ride. For example, a trip from Colombo to Kandy will cost about $ 85-100.

From the southern cities of Sri Lanka

From Matara, Galle, Hikkaduwa and other southern cities of Sri Lanka, the city of Kandy by train can only be reached with a transfer. Therefore, you first need to get to Colombo, and then – see the description above.

It is not a problem to get to Kandy by bus – it is a large city of Sri Lanka and transport runs in its direction quite often. Details can be found at the local bus station.

After sightseeing in Kandy, travelers often travel to Nuwara Eliya, the island’s tea capital. Why – find out in this article .

Weather and climate

Kandy air temperature

Kandy (Sri Lanka) has a mild climate. Daytime temperatures throughout the year are in the range + 28 … + 32 ° C, nighttime – + 18 … + 22 ° C.

The best time to visit Kandy is January-February and from June to September. In these periods, Kandy has the least rainfall. But in April-May and October-November there is a high probability that you will not be lucky with the weather – it rains quite often.

We hope that our article on the city of Kandy (Sri Lanka) inspired you to new adventures. Have a nice trip!

Video: Travel to Sri Lanka, the city of Kandy.

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