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Updated by Joanna James on Mar 16, 2024
Headline for Things to Do Around Kandy—Explore the Highlands, Discover the Traditions
Joanna James Joanna James
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Things to Do Around Kandy—Explore the Highlands, Discover the Traditions

Kandy, the hill capital of Sri Lanka, is the island's last kingdom. To this day, it is a culturally rich destination that offers one a chance to relax in the salubrious hills of Sri Lanka. If you love nature and culture, check out these awesome things to do around Kandy.


Enjoy City Central Icons

Some of the most iconic attractions in Kandy are located right in the city centre. Kandy Lake is one. The manmade lake was commissioned by a past king of Sri Lanka in the 19th century and sits across from the sacred Dalada Maligawa, a Buddhist shrine. Hence, Kandy Lake is deemed sacred and while it's home to thousands of little fish, you cannot fish there. You can take a boat tour to the manmade islet in the middle of the lake and enjoy the pretty surroundings of the lake, inlaid with walking paths and garden benches. The lake is an important landmark and one of the first attractions to be enjoyed by first-time visitors to the city.


Visit Dalada Maligawa

This Buddhist shrine, which is also called the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, is one of Asia's most revered temples as it houses a sacred tooth relic of the Buddha. The temple is visited by pilgrims from across the island and is a culturally rich place to explore. Observe the traditional rituals that take place there as well as marvelling at the treasured artefacts scattered throughout the temple. Make sure to visit the temple museum located next door; it's home to a variety of gifts received by past heads of state from visiting dignitaries. Dalada Maligawa hosts the annual Esala Perahera towards the end of July and early August. The ceremonies end with a magnificent parade across the streets of Kandy made up of traditional dancers and drummers, fire breathers and elephants dressed up in finery. The most magnificent of the lot carries a golden casket on its back inside which the tooth relic of the Buddha is cocooned.


Explore the Peradeniya Botanical Gardens

Peradeniya Botanical Gardens is a lush parkland established by the British colonists. The place is a botanical fantasy island and boasts a variety of shrubs, creepers, trees, and flowering blooms. You will love the enchanting surroundings, the expansive grounds and the Mahaweli River, which flows at the bottom of the gardens. The Mahaweli is the largest river in Sri Lanka and sure is a resplendent sight to see inside the gardens. To enjoy more of nature in Kandy, you can look for a Kandy 5-star hotel located on the outskirts of the city such as the Earl's Regency Kandy. Such places offer classic accommodation options as well as a chance to enjoy typical Sri Lankan hospitality.


Visit a Tea Factory

Ask your guide about visiting a tea factory when exploring Kandy. Several are spread throughout the city limits since tea is on main cultivation there. Visiting a tea factory will teach you all about the process of drying, chopping, and packing the harvested tea leaves. As a foremost tea-producing country in the world, Sri Lanka tea has many varieties, and it is interesting to see how these types of tea turn out. At the end of the tour, you will be able to visit the souvenir shop for a piping hot cup of freshly brewed tea and a slice of butter cake.


Catch a Show at the Kandy Cultural Centre

Upcountry dancing, fire dancing and traditional drummer shows are all a part of Kandy's rich heritage. You can catch all this and more at the Kandy Cultural Centre. Check out the events list on the official website and make sure to get your tickets while you are visiting.