At the heart of Sri Lanka lies Kandy, the last capital of the Sinhala kings, and Sri Lanka’s cultural centre. It was Sri Lanka’s capital until the British took control in 1815 and due to its significant association with Buddhism; UNESCO has now made the Sacred City of Kandy a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Kandy is a fascinating place and most commonly known for its exquisite gem stones, the exuberant Esala Perahera festival, but also the Tempe of The Tooth (the sacred tooth of the Buddha); arguably Sri Lanka’s most famous and important shrine. This sits alongside the Royal Palace and both can be visited together.
Near to the now sprawling city you will also find The Royal Botanical Gardens at Peradeniya. Celebrated for its vast selection of orchids, The Royal Botanical Gardens offer some of the most impressive horticultural displays found in the subcontinent, and we highly recommend visiting. Bordered by the luminous hill country, Kandy is not only a cultural and religious attraction, but also a base in which to explore the striking outdoors. From the city it is also possible to visit both Pinnewala Elephant Orphanage (although we feel it’s slightly touristy these day) as well as the Millennium Elephant Foundation. It’s also possible to enjoy treks in the nearby Knuckles Mountain Range, a glorious region also protected by UNESCO.
Kandy is easily accessible as it’s less than a four-hour drive from Colombo. From Kandy it’s also possible to head south on the train to Nuwara Eliya or Hatton, one of the most scenic and interesting journeys on the entire island.