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Updated by Joanna James on Jul 21, 2020
Headline for Places to visit in Kandy – The Iconic Attractions of Sri Lanka’s Hill Country
Joanna James Joanna James
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Places to visit in Kandy – The Iconic Attractions of Sri Lanka’s Hill Country

Kandy is the capital of Sri Lanka's central highlands. It's a city that's steeped in tradition and boasts a long and storied history. Landmarks and attractions that showcase these qualities are all around Kandy and can make for great excursions – here are the 5 best places to visit in the city.


The Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic

The Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic is by far Kandy's most famous and venerated landmarks. Located at the very centre of the city, this temple – as its name suggests – harbours a sacred tooth relic belonging to the Gautam Buddha. The temple itself was built during the reign of King Sri Vira Narendra Sinha, who is also recognised as the last Sinhalese king of Sri Lanka. The iconic octagonal section of the temple – referred to as the 'paththirippuwa' – was added alongside a moat by King Sri Vickrama Rajsinghe – the last King of Sri Lanka before the island's conquest and subjugation by the British. Aside from the sacred relic, there's a litany of amazing sights to see here at the temple. Along the interiors, brilliant murals depicting life in ancient Kandy can be found. What's more, brilliantly sculpted shrines and statues of the Buddha can be found all over the temple's premises. Now, if you're staying at one of the prominent luxury hotels in Kandy – for example, the Earl's Regency – the temple is a short drive away, so be sure to visit and experience this magnificent site.


The Royal Botanical Gardens

The Royal Botanical Gardens is by far one of the calmest and most serene places to visit if you're touring through Kandy. Over 2 million people visit these gardens annually to appreciate all its sights and rich plant life. The gardens actually showcase over 4000 different species of plants to be precise – from towering trees to delicate herbs. In particular, the gardens are known for its extensive collection of rare orchids. A visit here can be a 2-for-1 as the National Herbarium of Sri Lanka is right next door. Here you can learn about the many medicinal plants used in traditional Sri Lankan medicine.


Kandy Lake

The Kandy Lake is found adjacent to the famous Temple of the Tooth Relic and it is quite the impressive sight in its own right. The Kandy Lake encompasses an area of over 6500 square miles and has a circumference of around 3.2 kilometres. The Walakulu Bamma which translated to 'cloud wall' is the structure which surrounds the lake. Prior to the wall's completion, the King was captured by the British and as such, the wall still lies unfinished to this day.


The Udawattakele Reserve

If you're in the mood to experience nature and see some wildlife, the Udawattakele Reserve is the best location to do so in Kandy. In fact, it is the only major protected forest found within the city's vicinity. Here in the forest, you'll find a fascinating cast of characters, including rowdy toque macaques and the elusive fishing cat. Many species of avifauna can be found here too, making the forest an excellent birdwatching destination. Some of the rarer species include the endemic Layard's parakeet and the nocturnal brown fishing owl.


The Kandy National Museum

You can round out your tour through Kandy by visiting the Kandy National Museum. Here you'll find artefacts dating back to the founding of the Kandyan Kingdom, its heyday and collapse. It's a great way to piece together the complete history behind this amazing city.