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Sri Lanka Kandy skyline
Sri Lanka Kandy Royal Botanical Gardens Peradeniya
Sri Lanka Kandy architecture

Central Kandy is one of Sri Lanka’s most significant religious sites, being home to the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic – a tooth from Buddha himself.

The golden-roofed temple is actually part of the Royal Palace complex, which includes several museums and temples.

The highlight is the 10-day Esala Perahera (Festival of the Tooth), when the tooth is paraded around the city by 65 decorated elephants, normally held in late July into early August. The festival has its roots back to the arrival in Sri Lanka of Kandy’s sacred tooth back in the 4th century AD.

Kandy is an excellent base for exploring the Cultural Triangle as it has good road and rail connections, plus a multitude of cafes, bars and restaurants. A major attraction is Kandy’s contrasting architecture, with crowded markets rubbing shoulders with grand colonial buildings and gold-shrouded Buddhist temples.

Kandy’s fierce sense of pride was part of the reason it became the last Buddhist bolthole, resisting Portuguese and Dutch forces in turn for three centuries before finally succumbing to the British in 1815. It’s no mere stark historical site either – consider timing your visit to coincide with one of the lively cultural events that bring life to the streets throughout the year.

The Kandy area played a key role in the ferment of political and religious pressure that built in the run-up to the terrorist attacks of 2019. Steer clear of political and religious conversations here, even if you think you know the other person’s viewpoint, as unintentional offence can easily be caused.

Sri Lanka undiscovered

An expert guide to Sri Lanka's hidden gems

From ancient ruins to a vibrant and welcoming contemporary culture; from lazy afternoons on glorious beaches, to hikes through the rolling hills of tea country and wild elephant spotting in untouched national parks; Sri Lanka is a destination that truly has it all. Despite having its hard-won stability rocked by occasional political disputes, Sri Lanka's tourism infrastructure is developing in leaps and bounds. Hospitality is warm and abundant, transport is convenient, and accommodation – particularly in the independent boutique sector – is world-class...read more

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