Some say Kandy is the only other real ‘city’ in Sri Lanka, other than Colombo. The easy-going capital of the Hill Country has a lot to offer – history, culture, forested hills and a touch of urban buzz. Only 115km inland from the capital, climatically it is a world away due to its 500m altitude.
Kandy served as the capital of the last Sinhalese kingdom, which fell to the British in 1815 after defying the Portuguese and Dutch for three centuries. It took the British 11 years to build a road linking Kandy with Colombo, a task they finally completed in 1831.
The town, and the countryside around it, is lush and green and there are many pleasant walks from the town and further afield. The town centre, close to Kandy’s picturesque lake set in a bowl of hills, is a delightful jumble of old shops, antique and gemstone specialists, a bustling market and a very good selection of hotels, guesthouses and restaurants. As night falls the city becomes eerily quiet.
Kandy is particularly well known for the great Kandy Esala Perahera, held over 10 days leading up to the Nikini poya (full moon) at the end of the month of Esala (July/August), but has enough attractions to justify a visit at any time of year.
Locally, Kandy is known as either Maha Nuwara (Great City) or just Nuwara (City), which is what some conductors on Kandy-bound buses call out.
Last updated: Feb 17, 2009
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