Being the gateway to high hills and tea plantations, Kandy is the second largest city in Sri Lanka and is also known as the country’s cultural capital. It is located at the very heart of the country, and has a lot to offer – history, heritage, forested hills and a touch of urban buzz.
It is particularly famous for being home to the Dalada Maligawa – “The Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic”, which is believed to house the Tooth Relic of the Buddha. It is considered the most worshipped object in the world. According to Sri Lankan myth, when the Buddha passed away and was cremated, his left canine tooth was retrieved from the funeral pyre. The Dalada Maligawa is said to house the very same relic, which is regarded as a symbolic representation of the living Buddha. It is on this basis that there grew up a series of offerings, rituals, and ceremonies. Worshipping at the temple is believed to improve one’s karma immeasurably and the shrine receives a constant flow of worshippers and tourists alike.
The temple comprises of the royal palace, an audience hall, and the Mahamaluwa, which is a lawn area situated in front of the temple compound. The Royal Palace is now preserved as an archaeological museum. The Kandyan Kings held their royal court at the Audience Hall, and it was also where the Kandyan Convention was drawn up and read out to the people. Conserved under the department of archaeology, the hall is now used for state ceremonies.
Also located in Kandy is the largest botanical garden in Sri Lanka – The Peradeniya Royal Botanical Gardens, Covering over 60 hectares and bounded by the Mahaweli Ganga on three sides, the history of this garden dates back as far as 1371 – when King Wickramabahu III ascended the throne. It was made a Royal Garden later on, under the reign of King Rajasinghe who ruled from 1747 to 1780. The garden has more than 300 varieties of orchids, spices, medicinal plants and palm trees, and is managed by the Department of Agriculture of Sri Lanka. It is also home to the tallest bamboo trees in the world, as well as the oldest living tea plant.
Kandy is a laid-back city, and the clean air and the friendly people make it a pleasant escape from the hustle and bustle associated with Colombo.
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