The hill capital of Sri Lanka, Kandy, is a major tourist destination for many reasons. Before we get to that, let me take you down the memory lane. Kandy is in the central province of the country. The city sits 500m above sea level. Kandy weather is tricky, you would have the sun beating down on you in the morning, and towards the latter part of the day, you might get a slight drizzle or heavy pour of rain.
Despite all that, the beautiful blue skies, the elevated city in the mountains and of course the lake will make you fall in love with this city. Kandy has its unique cultural background and also a very rich heritage. You would find colonial architecture mixed with the unique culture and traditions of the hill capital.
Sri Lankan history goes back to more than 2500 years. Kandy has played a massive role in history, and all the legends and stories make Kandy a much respected and attractive place on the island. Of course, the first thing that comes to your mind when you see the word Kandy is the Temple of the sacred Tooth Relic. Apart from this sacred place, there are many more attractions, and we will list them down and help you with everything you need to know.
How to get to here
The best time to travel to Kandy is during July/August. It is mainly because of the Kandy Esala Perehara, which we will get to later.
Colombo To Kandy
Train – Most recommended for all tourists. Its convenient, efficient, and worth it. There are many trains in different timings which leave the Fort Railway station every day, but we recommend you avoid the weekends because of the crowds. However, the rain ride will take approximately 3 hours.
There are trains right through the day, but we recommend you to take the morning train so that it will be much cooler and the view on the way would be better as well. Also, you could book the Expo rail, which will cost you a bit more than the usual train ticket. This carriage has a panoramic view, comfortable seats, air-conditioned, and food served to your seat.
Or you could take a 2nd class ticket which is cheaper. The links for train schedules and bookings are below,
Bus – it will take approximately 4-5 hours, given the traffic and the weather conditions. You get both air-conditioned and normal busses from Fort bus station any time of the day. (apart from midnight hours)
Car or Air Taxi – the more expensive and luxurious type of travel. You could book yourself an uber straight from the Airport, or you would find many cab drivers near the airport waiting to offer you a ride. Air Taxis are available every day, but it will cost you about LKR 30,000 for a one-way trip. Below are the links to help you with that.
Ella To Kandy
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!! This 6-hour train ride will make you fall in love with this island. Through mountains with the cool breeze soothing your body, you wouldn’t feel the time passing by. This is one of the most popular and most scenic train rides in Sri Lanka. Hills covered with tea plantations, colonial bridges and stations, waterfalls and small villages are few things you will experience during the ride.
Remember, if you want to take the famous and dangerous photos hanging out from the windows or the door, you probably will have to take the 2nd class tickets. But, if you want to sit back, relax and enjoy the view, you could buy the first-class tickets and enjoy the comfort.
Things to do in Kandy Sri Lanka
Temple of the Tooth Relic
The majority of the Sri Lankans follow Buddhism. Hence temples are respected and given a special place right around the island. The Temple of the Tooth Relic in Kandy sits right at the top of the ladder because it possesses the most important Buddhist Relic – a Tooth of the Buddha.
King Veera Parakrama Narendrasinghe started building this temple in the 1700’s. The construction took many years and many other Kings including Sri Wickramarajasinhe. This historic temple took few hits during the civil war but, the authorities have managed to keep its originality for years.
Initially, the Tooth of Lord Buddha was brought to Sri Lanka in the 4th century AD. King Meghavanna, who ruled Anuradhapura, kept the Relic in his kingdom. Later on, as the Kingdoms changed, the Relic was transferred from Anuradhapura to Polonnaruwa, Dambadeniya, Sri Jayawardhanapura, and finally to the Kingdom of Kandy Sri Lanka.
Thousands of followers, tourists, storm this temple to take a glimpse of the relic. Even Though you cannot see the tooth, locals, and many followers from around the globe have huge respect and devotion towards this temple. Make sure you pay a visit to the temple, but when you do, make sure to wear clothes that cover your legs and shoulders.
Kandy Esala Perahara
Earlier, we mentioned why you should make your travel plans to Kandy during July/August. The Esala Perahara is the reason why we recommended those months. Every year, little kids, their parents, and even their grandparents make the journey to the hill capital to witness this fantastic experience.
Traditional dancers, fire eaters, and even Elephants, the Esala Perehara is not something you should miss during your stay. It will show you how colorful and vibrant traditions are in Kandy Sri Lanka. Many Followers come to witness this occasion to receive blessings from Lord Buddha as the sacred tooth Relic is carried by the biggest Elephant at the end of the Perehara.
Royal Botanical Gardens
The largest botanical garden in Sri Lanka, spans across 60 Hectares. It is situated 6km from Kandy town. If you wanna take strolls amidst the flowers and the huge trees, this is the place to go. The gigantic tree in the middle of the free filled lawn is a very old Javan fig tree. It’s one of the favorite spots in the garden where people come to hang out given it’s widespread branches which offers a nice shade in the lawn.
Kandy is an iconic city when it comes to history and Buddhism. Many temples hold a rich history in and around Kandy. Degal Doruwa Raja Maha Viharaya is one of them. It is a cave temple built during the Kingdom of Kandy. It was controlling the country. Murals and paintings from that era are still preserved for anyone to come and see. It is situated just 5km from Kandy Lake.
Hanthana Mountain range is a popular hiking range in Kandy. This range has seven peaks, and all of them are accessible, but it’ll take more than a day to cover all at once. The younger generation enjoys this hike, and you would enjoy a beautiful view of the Kandy city once you visit the summit.
Kandy is a busy city; you could say it is one of the most bustling towns after Colombo. But, It is one of the most colorful and vibrant cities on the island. It’s not as chilled as Ella, but it has its unique vibe to it. Make sure you pay a visit while you stay here.