Why Kandy is Sri Lanka’s Cultural Capital

A popular day-trip destination for all, Kandy is not only home to the Temple of the Tooth but some of Sri Lanka’s top cultural highlights. Here’s why this hill station is deemed the cultural heart of the island.

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Charles R. Benedict, Ceylon tea, CC BY-SA 4.0

The Temple of the Tooth

The main reason why Kandy is dubbed the cultural epicentre of Sri Lanka is that it is where the Temple of the Tooth is located. The sacred dental remains of Lord Buddha are contained within this iconic shrine, which was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site decades ago.

Historic Kandy Lake

Although most visitors know that enjoying a boat ride on Kandy Lake is one of the top things to do in Kandy, few are aware of the legacy of this manmade body of water. Having been the execution site for many Sri Lankan nobles during British colonial rule, Kandy Lake is most infamously connected with the beheading of local hero Madduma Bandara and his family.

Tea Country

Whether you are based at the Hunas Falls Hotel Kandy or any other rest, a tour of the tea estates and factories surrounding the city will illustrate how it is a prime tea-producing region in Sri Lanka. World-famous Ceylon Tea is linked with the plantations and colonial-era tea factories that still function today and form a part of the hillside’s tea country.

 Kandyan Dance and Drumming Heritage

As a dance tradition that differs significantly from the island’s southern dance school, Kandyan dance and drumming techniques date back centuries and have been preserved by local artists.

 

The Underrated Safari Experiences in Sri Lanka

Famed for its tropical beaches and alluring sunsets, Sri Lanka may not appear to be the bearer of forests and jungles of untamed wildlife. However, the country’s reputation as a tropical vacation hub overshadows its ability to provide some of the best-known safaris.

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Walter Gehr, Minneriya National Park, elephants gathering, CC BY-SA 4.0

The Road to a Minneriya Safari

A 17-minute ride is all it takes to reach the Minneriya National Park from hotels like Aliya Resort and Spa. The park is known to be one of the best places on the island to witness the largest elephant gatherings that occur during the months of June to September. Most accommodations in the area offer safari packages to tourists which are inclusive of well-trained drivers to educate them along the way, and it is also about a 20-30 minutes distance from most other Sigiriya hotels in the area.

A Jungle Exploit

While visitors can witness herds of elephants freely roaming out and about, they are not the only wildlife that can be spotted at the Minneriya National Park. The sanctuary is home to a wide array of species ranging from eagles, monkeys and peacocks that can be seen in numbers. The park shelters 24 species of mammals, 9 species of amphibians, 25 species of reptiles, 160 species of birds, 75 species of butterflies and 26 species of fish.

Travelling with Young Ones

A safari at the Minneriya National Park is not one that is catered only for adults but is considered a safe experience for children as well. While older children are likely to appreciate wildlife and the knowledge of their lifestyles, younger ones are more drawn to the thrill of the jeep ride and climbing up the rocks in the park 

The Overall Experience

Many travellers have shared positive testimonies of their fabulous experiences at the Minneriya National Park, commenting on the expertise of the drivers and guides that accompany them throughout the journey. This family-friendly safari is certain to be one of education as well as a real-life adventure for adults and children alike. 

Kingdom of Kandy

 Located amidst the green swathes of Sri Lanka’s upcountry, Kandy was once the capital of Sri Lanka. Its proud history dictates that it was the only region in Sri Lanka that remained independent for the longest time period possible, under the foreign powers. All over the city are historical, cultural, religious, and natural attractions.

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AntanO, Kandy War Cemetery, CC BY-SA 4.0

Temple of the Tooth Relic

This has to be the single most important religious site to Sri Lankan Buddhists. The temple houses Buddha’s tooth relic inside a pagoda-shaped casing, made of gold and adorned with jewellery. Sri Lankans believe that this tooth relic has the power to bring about rains to nourish the Sri Lankan soil. The temple is part of a palace complex.

Kandy Lake

Looking for a respite from the mid-day sun? Take a stroll around Kandy Lake. Located right in front of the Temple of the Tooth Relic, Kandy Lake is part of the temple complex. The lake offers several hiking trails.

Royal Botanical Gardens

The gardens are called the Royal Botanical Gardens as it was once reserved for royals, but now it’s open to everyone! This is one of the must-visit attractions in Kandy. Located one hour and eighteen minutes from Hunas Falls Hotel Kandy, the garden nurtures a wide variety of plant species. The main attraction, however, is the palm-fringed walkway that often seems to grace Instagram.

Commonwealth War Cemetery

There are several commonwealth war cemeteries, but the one found in Kandy is one of the most important historical sites. The cemetery is the resting place of soldiers who fought during the Second World War. Despite having a gloomy historical element, the cemetery features a calm and beautiful atmosphere. You can get here from almost any hotel in Kandy, Sri Lanka in around an hour.

Conclusion

The list of Kandy attractions is endless. The city offers plenty of things to do and see, to keep you sufficiently occupied for more than a week. To make the most of your time here, take your time and plan your itinerary, and don’t forget to book your accommodation well in advance!

What You Need to Know About the Sacred City of Kandy

Popularly known as the city of Senkadagalapura, the sacred city of Kandy was declared a world heritage site by UNESCO in 1988. Drawing tourists, pilgrims and other visitors in numbers, this city radiates a celestial atmosphere which makes it stand out among other cities in Sri Lanka.

 The Positioning

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Abishek Palraj, Knuckles Forest, Sri lanka, CC BY-SA 4.0

Kandy is located in the central part of the country, with an elevation of 500 metres from sea level. Hidden in the thick forests and majestic mountain ranges, the city stands in pride in all its glory. These mountain ranges include two of Sri Lanka’s most beloved hiking hot spots, Knuckles and Hanthana. Kandy’s location and historical significance have been core reasons for opening up many hotels and resorts like Hunas Falls Hotel, Kandy. Most tourists and pilgrims who visit this sacred city often seek accommodation in a hotel in Kandy, Sri Lanka for a comfortable stay as a day’s trip will not do justice to the beauty of the city.

The History

Kandy was the last capital of the country in the era of the ancient kings. It is also home to the Sri Dalada Maligawa, also known as the Temple of the Tooth which shelters the relic of the tooth of Lord Buddha. Although the locals rebelled massively to save the kingdom of Kandy from British rule, the efforts were finally beaten as the British Ceylon period rose from 1815 to 1948, until the country was freed of colonial rule and gained independence.

Climate

While Sri Lanka is widely known for its tropical weather conditions, Kandy’s geographical positioning deviates the city climate to a wetter and cooler temperature as a result of its 500-metre elevation from sea level. However, the city is still a part of the country’s tropical climate and faces the monsoon seasons from May to July and October to December.

The Kandy City

The cityscape of Kandy includes a quadrangular manmade lake at its centre, with two open spaces in which one corner is occupied by the administration buildings of the old capital. Although not as commercialised as Colombo, Kandy still welcomes tourists and hosts several hotels, shopping complexes and local eateries to taste the traditional flavours of Sri Lanka.

Set Off on a Hike to Knuckles

Renowned as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Knuckles Mountain range has been famed for its human fist like appearance from certain angles. This magnificent gift of nature is located in the Kandy and Matale districts of Sri Lanka and is highly popular among hikers from all over the world.

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Thusitha Jayasundara, Knuckles mountain range – Sri Lanka, CC BY-SA 4.0

How to Get to Knuckles

While several access points allow you to reach Knuckles, the most popular entrance is in Matale. However, this solely depends on where you are residing at. If you plan to travel to Kandy on a vacation, the access point will not be over a journey of an hour or two to Hunnasgiriya, once again, based on the route that you choose to take. However, do visit the Kandy Escapes website for a deeper insight on how to adapt and prepare for the weather conditions in Kandy, if you wish to enter Knuckles from a Kandy access point.

How to Climb Knuckles

While Knuckles’ popularity attracts many hikers, it is only advisable that you climb the mountain range if you carry a considerable level of experience in the art. However, a guide must accompany you, regardless of your level of hiking experience, in order to avoid getting lost. Therefore, a qualified guide will direct you through the paths that should be taken.

Grab a Bite on The Way

As you climb up one of Sri Lanka’s most difficult mountain trails, hunger will not be too far away. Being a protected reserve prevents hotels and resorts from opening up in the Knuckles and therefore, food is likely to become a luxury during the course of your hike. Stock up what you need in a backpack and grab a bite whenever hunger takes you over.

Other Attractions

While setting off on an adventurous hike is what Knuckles is known for, the areas surrounding this mountain range host plenty of other attractions for hikers and tourists. Deep into the forest lies Meemure, a rural village of picturesque views, Kandy, the sacred city of the Temple of the Tooth and the Aluvihara Rock Cave Temple in Matale.

  

 

Dambulla in One Day

Located in the Cultural Triangle of Sri Lanka, the town of Dambulla is an ideal destination to visit or be based at. If you have just one day here, these are some of the things you can do.

Sigiriya Rock Fortress

Get off to an early start by heading to the top of the iconic Sigiriya rock fortress, a UNESCO World Heritage Site within easy reach of Aliya Resort & Spa. You will pass rock frescoes, the Mirror Wall and the remains of huge lion paws leading up to the summit where palace ruins and inspiring vistas await.

Golden Temple of Dambulla

With a history that dates to the 1st century BC, another key local attraction is the Golden Temple of Dambulla. Hotels that are close by are ideal since you can plan a visit to this site where you will find Buddha statues and historical paintings within a stunning cave temple complex.

Minneriya National Park

In the second half of the day, you can plan a wildlife safari to the Minneriya National Park home to diverse animal and bird life; if you visit between June to September you are in for a treat since you can witness “The Gathering” where hundreds of elephants can be seen.

Ayurvedic Spa Bliss

Look to stay at a hotel that has an Ayurveda spa so you can enjoy some relaxing and rejuvenating treatments after all your adventures. Such spas offer traditional and holistic rituals with everything from herbal oil body therapies to herbal steam baths and more.

 

 

Dambulla in One Day

Located close to many Sigiriya hotels the likes of Aliya Resort& Spa, Dambulla is a significant city of the Central Province in Sri Lanka. Due to its central location, Dambulla is also used as a major vegetable distribution point in the country.

Visit Dambulla Cave Temple – Morning

Dambulla Cave Temple or the Golden Temple of Dambulla is one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Sri Lanka. It is one of the mostextensive and best-preserved cave complexes of the country.

Explore Ibbankatuwa Prehistoric Burial Site – Afternoon

Within a three-kilometre radius of the Dambulla Cave Temple lies an ancient burial site of the country called the Ibbankatuwa Megalithic Tombs. Many ancient tools and goods along with cremated remains have been found during excavations.

Hike the Rose Quartz Mountain Range – Evening

Not many know that there is a Rose Quartz Mountain Range in Sri Lanka, which is the largest of its kind in Asia. At the very top of this mountain, one may come across a gleaming white statue of Lord Buddha. The legends say that Emperor Shah Jahan used rose quartz from this place to build his masterpiece, the iconic Taj Mahal.

Relax in NamalUyana – Late Evening

Spread over 260 acres of land is a forest of Ironwood trees in Dambulla. It also houses the Rose Quartz Mountain Range and contributes to an ecosystem of various birds and mammals.

 

 

Best Beaches in West Coast of Sri Lanka

The Pearl of the Indian Ocean sure has some amazing beaches that lure tourists every year. The coastal belt of Sri Lanka is something that you must explore. Here are a few beaches that are not too far from Colombo for starters.

 

Negombo
This is a coastal city that is just 37 km away from Colombo which is about 1.5 hours travel time on the highway. Negombo is popular for beautiful beaches that are surfer friendly and safe for almost any water sport.

Mount Lavinia
This is one of the most residential zones in Colombo, especially for the middle class. This place has one of the most scenic beaches where the middle class often visit in the evenings for a jog or to walk their pets.

Beruwela
This is a beach city that is popular for hotels.Beruwela offers some of the best luxury resorts such as The Eden Resort & Spa for a nice stay. The beaches here are great too but the waters can sometimes be too rough so look out for the red flag.

Induruwa
Unlike the rest of the beaches, this isn’t a crowded one. Instead, the ambience is of that of a calm village where you can just relax.

A Guide to Wildlife in Sri Lanka

 

If you are looking for a “wild” holiday which is more about wildlife encounters than nightlife fun, then Sri Lanka is an ideal destination! Here’s a glimpse into the many species you may come across.

Mammals
Sri Lanka has over 100 mammal species including the endemic leopard and elephant. Leopards can be spotted at the Yala National Park, while elephants can be seen at Minneriya National Park near Habarana; hotel options in the area such as Cinnamon Lodge Habarana offer excursions to see “The Gathering” of hundreds of elephants around July. The sloth bear, sambar deer, toque macaque and European otter are some of the other local mammals.

Birds
Over 500 species of birds have been recorded in Sri Lanka which encompasses endemic (like the Sri Lankanjunglefowl and Sri Lanka spurfowl) and migratory (like the Pacific golden plover and greater flamingo) species.The Sinharaja Forest Reserve andBundala National Park are two bird watching hotspots.

Reptiles
There are plenty of reptile species in the island which include a great many snakes such as the sand boa, green vine snake andIndian cobra. Also grouped amongst reptiles are the mugger and saltwater crocodiles as well as five sea turtle species like olive ridley, hawksbill and green turtles.

Marine Species
Out at sea, Sri Lanka is blessed with more diversity and one will find over 900 marine fish species; these include reef fish as well as larger varieties like marlin and sailfish. The country also offers one a chance to spot marine mammals from blue and sperm whales to spinner and bottlenose dolphins.\

 

 

 

 

 

Thrilling Safaris at Yala National Park, Sri Lanka

Ever had the thrill of seeing regal leopards and majestic elephants roam free in their natural habitats? Such wildlife encounters and a whole lot more awaits at the Yala National Park!

Plan Your Safari
Located in the southeast part of the country, this park can be accessed via the gates at locations such as Palatupana and Katagamuwa. For a safari tour, Sri Lanka is best explored via 4WD vehicles and Yala is no exception. A little after 6:00am and again after 4:00pm are generally the best times for spotting wildlife.

Kings of Yala
The apex predator at the park is the Sri Lankan leopard; safaris here are very popular since it has the world’s highest density of leopards in the wild. Such wildlife drives can be organised by local travel specialists the likes of Walkers Tours as part of unforgettable excursions to spot these stealthy felines.

Other Wildlife
On your adventures in Yala, you mayobserve many other creatures too including elephants who may be gentle giants, but shouldn’t be disturbed! Keep watch to also spot sloth bears, water buffalos, spotted deer, toque macaques and mugger crocodiles. Part of the park encompasses the coast where sea turtles are known to visit too.

Diverse Birdlife
Equally impressive are the diverse bird species at Yala; one of the best places for birdwatching in Sri Lanka, the park has recorded around 215 bird species. These includeendemic varieties such as the Sri Lanka wood pigeon, Sri Lanka grey hornbill and Sri Lankan junglefowl which is also the nation’s national bird.