Kandy – Sri Lanka

Kandy Lake with the Temple of the Tooth

Population: 700,000
Area Code: (+94) 8
Climate: Tropical; average temperatures: 31C/88F – 17C/63F (Jan-Mar); 29C/84F – 21C/70F (May-Aug); 28C/82F – 18C/64F (Sep-Dec).

For over two hundred years it was the defiant last capital of the kings of Sri Lanka. It thwarted the Portuguese before finally succumbing to British rule in 1815. Reclining serenely beside an artificial lake on the wooded lower slopes of the Hill Country after which it was christened, Kandy became a religious center during the 13th or 14th century and a political one following the decline of Plonnaruwa. Gracious residences for the hillside in a sea of greenery on the south shore of the lake. Centred on the moated pink Dalada Maligawa, the 16th-century Temple of the Tooth – the island’s most sacred relic – Kandy feels like a Sri Lankan Kyoto. Here and in the surrounding villages the ancient skills of dancing, music, handicrafts and all that is most deeply traditional in the land are lovingly preserved. The Kohomba Kankariya is a torchlight dance ritual still performed to drums in a decorated pavilion. Every August the town bursts forth in the Esala Perahera, the country’s most spectacular festival. Established in its present grandeur during the 17th century, a costumed procession of officials, dancers, acrobats and caparisoned elephants accompanies a replica of the golden casket containing the Tooth through the streets to this day. (The Tooth Fairy would have a field day!) A more modern, fictional spectacle was enacted here before film cameras as screen hero Indiana Jones struggled against evil in the Temple of Doom.

The Headquarters
Chaaya Citadel
124 Srimath Kuda Ratwatte Mawatha, Kandy
What more could you want up here? The little fortress of hospitality in Sri Lanka’s former capital overlooks the picturesque Mahaweli River. Rooms full of local handicrafts and an equally colorful view from the balcony, a poolside terrace for relaxing after sightseeing, oriental-occidental cuisine in the restaurant and aromatic spice gardens all around.

Nuwara Eliya
The hillsides are green with tea plantations. No wonder Ceylon became a household word amongst the British. Whilst stay-at-home Victorians were brewing the legendary cuppa, their more adventurous compatriots were creating a high-altitude England en miniature at Nuwara Eliya, an hour’s drive south of Kandy. Perched at 6,000 feet in the shadow of Mount Pidurutalagala, Sri Lanka’s highest mountain, ‘Nurelia’ soon became the sanatorium and summer retreats of Colombo’s colonial colonels. The intrepid Sir Samuel Baker imported all the ingredients to warm the hearts of his homesick compatriots, from Hereford cattle to roses and cabbages. Dominated by the grey stone Hill Club it remains a charming anachronism today, complete with mock-Tudor mansions and neogothic villas grouped around the Anglican Church and a pretty park. After participating in the ‘sport of kings’ at the race course or a gentlemanly round of golf on one of the most picturesque courses in Asia, you can drive past the Hakgala Nature Reserve, the rock sculptures of Buduruvagala and the gem city of Ratnapura, before climbing to the top of sacred Adam’s Peak on your way back to the capital.

Hill Club - Nuwara Eliya
The Retreat
Hill Club (36 rooms)
Nuwara Eliya
Join the club. Whether you come for the gold of the polo, after tea-tasting or as a change from the sea resorts, as a temporary resident you can enter the hallowed halls of the dignified and wild boar. If you slide your hand between the armchair cushions in the museal library you may even find the last Governor’s visiting card.

The Ancient Capital
After you have ‘done; the Acropolis, the Forum Romanum and the archaeological splendors of Asia’s past between Moheno-daro and Hue, you’ll find in Sri Lanka another trio of ruined cities to add to your collection. Some 200 kilometers north of Colombo, the great ruined Buddhist cities of the country’s past are amazing complexes of temples and palaces, haunted in their abandonment by the memories of the dynasties of kings who once ruled here. For more than a thousand years from the 4th century B.C., when Alexander the Great was establishing Greek rule in the Mediterranean, Anuradhapura was the flourishing center of a vast Buddhist empire. Grown from a cutting of the sacred Bo tree under which the Buddha achieved enlightenment, the Sri Maha Bodhi is the oldest documented tree in the world. Polonnaruwa, the medieval capital, lies on the shores of a vast inland lake. The remains of its fortifications and religious buildings culminate in the serene beauty of the 12th-century Gal Vihara Buddha statues. Sigiriya, the ‘Lion Rock’ fortress built by the patricide prince Kasyapa, is a paranoid’s asylum atop a granite outcrop, adorned by voluptuous cave frescoes of bejeweled maidens.

The Sights and Attractions
- Kandy Lake
- Dalada Maligawa – the Temple of the Tooth.
- Audience Hall – part of the former royal palace.
- Pattini Devala – Hindu shrine.
- Natha Devala – Dravidian shrine, the oldest in Kandy.
- Maha Vishnu Devala – shrine to Upulvan (Vishnu).
- Kataragama Devala.
- Asigiriya Monastery – center of Siyam Nikaya Buddhist sect.
- Malwatta Monastery (16thC) – Kandyan-style architecture.
- Kandy National Museum – royal regalia and jewelry.

- Royal Botanical Gardens, Peradeniya (8km/5 miles) – indigenous flora and orchids.
- the Dumbara Valley.
- Kalapuraya – craftsmen’s village,
- Degal–doruwa Cave Temple – rare wall paintings,
- Gunnepana – kandyan dance center
- the temples, views and elephant orphanage along the road from Colombo.
- Nuwara Eliya (77km/48 miles) – hill station.
- Dambulla (72km/45 miles) – rock temple.
- Sigiriya (96km/60 miles) – rock fortress and frescoes.

Annual Events;
- Singhala and Tamil New Year (Apr)
- Vesak (May) – Buddhist festival.
- Esahala Perahera (Aug) – ten days of spectacular processions.
- Deepavali (Oct/Nov) – Hindu Festival of Lights.

5 star for 3 star holidays

Template by - Abdul Munir - 2008