Kandy, where traditional culture abounds, was the last stronghold of Sri Lankan kings conquered by the colonial rulers. It is richly set against tea and spice lands, surrounded with hills through which the Mahaweli the longest river in the island beautifully winds its way. The Dalada Maligawa, the temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic of the Buddha, is the major tourist attraction in Kandy and is located spectacularly against a vast serene lake. The Tooth Relic is a symbol of sovereignty and receives state protection. Among locations of interest is the 14th century Natha Devale (temple), a UNESCO World Heritage Site, dedicated to a guardian deity of Sri Lanka.
It is built on a stone platform having a traditional archway at its entrance and amazing architecture within. There are three other 18th century temples dedicated to three guardian deities, with unique architecture. The Audience Hall or the Magul Maduwa consists of wooden pillars with elaborate carvings. “The Esala Perahera” is a spectacular annual cultural event held in July-August to honour the Sacred Tooth Relic of the Buddha and obtain the blessings of the guardian deities on the leaders and citizens of Sri Lanka. Called “Asia’s grandest pageant” it is adorned with groups of richly clad dignitaries, musicians, dancers and caparisoned elephants that parade the heavily lit streets of Kandy over 7 nights. The royal palace has been transformed into an archaeological museum.
The preserved stuffed tusker that ceremoniously carried the tooth relic in the past during the annual parade is an inspiring sight. There are also British colonial buildings coming down from 1815. The Royal Botanical Gardens established in 1832 holds a magnificent collection of flora within 57ha of land bordering the Mahaweli river and it’s Orchid House is a feast to the eye. Opposite the Gardens is the University of Peradeniya set against nature’s bounty. The approach to Kandy from Colombo is breath-taking especially by rail providing a picturesque view of the mist covered mountainous region.