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Updated by Joanna James on May 02, 2024
Headline for What to See in Kandy Sri Lanka – The home of the Buddha’s tooth relic
Joanna James Joanna James
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What to See in Kandy Sri Lanka – The home of the Buddha’s tooth relic

Kandy was the last kingdom of Sri Lanka and the last region to hold out against the colonizing British. The ancient city is just as beautiful as it is historically and culturally important.


The Kandy Lake

Set in the centre of the city and taking up a significant part of the Kandy town; Kandy Lake is an iconic part of the old kingdom. Built by the last king of Kandy in 1807 the lake has quite a bloody history. None of that is noticeable now however and the area surrounding the lake is calm and serene. Many locals and tourists alike can be seen sitting on benches or just strolling around the banks of the lake in the evenings. You can even go for a boat ride if you like, but in honesty, the ride is short and maybe not that worth it. Many of the more famous hotels in Kandy, Sri Lanka are situated on the banks of the lake.


The Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic

The Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic is the most important religious and cultural site on the Island and is a reason for national pride. The temple which was once the palace of the Kandyan Kings is home to the tooth relic of the Buddha. The relic has always been an important aspect of the nation as it gave whoever possessed it the right to rule. The tooth relic is only exhibited rarely but the gold casing it is stored in is paraded around the city every year during the Esela Perahera; a procession of light and colour that has been continuously held since the beginning of the kingdom in Kandy. When visiting be mindful to dress in a manner that your arms and legs are covered – it's a local tradition.


Peradeniya Botanical Gardens

These gardens were once reserved for royalty however the British brought in many plants and flower from all over the world and created the botanical gardens. This is the largest botanical garden in Sri Lanka and is spread across nearly 60 hectares. Many miles of walkways and expansive lawns are spread throughout the gardens while many varieties of orchids and rare trees can also be seen. The landscaping is beautiful and really eye-catching are the towering majestic palms that line the main avenues. You can easily spend hours here. Cinnamon Citadel Kandy is one of the best places to stay in Kandy and it's just a 10-minute drive from the Botanical Gardens.


Kandyan Drum and Dance Show

Kandy has an age-old culture of dance and percussion somewhat unique from the rest of the country which evolved probably during the city's isolation from the rest of the island during the first century of British rule in the coastlands of Sri Lanka. The dancers are colourful and move with amazing dexterity to the rhythmic beats of various ethnic drums. There are a few places in Kandy you can see one of these drum and dance shows, it will cost roughly around 500rs per person and a show will generally last one hour or so.


Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage

Pinnawala Elephant orphanage is not technically in Kandy but is rather on the way from Colombo to Kandy. But it is one place you must visit in Sri Lanka. Get up close and personal with the gentle giants that call this orphanage home. If you love elephants there is probably no other place in the world that you will love more.