"Kandy" Kandy by tayloretc

Kandy Travel Guide: 303 reviews and 715 photos

Kandy is pretty. My driver (born and raised in Colombo) said my very short stay in Sri Lanka would have been better spent more in Kandy (the seat of culture) and less in Colombo (the seat of government), and from the little I saw of both places I’m inclined to agree.

Kandy is the seat of the last Sri Lankan rulers, so much of the cultural heritage of Sri Lanka has been kept alive here. Many tourists base themselves here and make day or overnight trips to all the places Sri Lanka is famous for – the cultural triangle (temples, ruins), tea plantations, Ratnapura (center of gem production), and a large number of wildlife preserves are all within reasonable driving distances.

Kandy is also pretty small, so it’s walkable, and it’s in the hills, so it’s not that hot while you’re walking (at least it wasn’t in January). Apparently it’s a weekend trip for a lot of Sri Lankans too. There are lots of hotels and restaurants, as well as crafts and gem shops that obviously cater to those weekend vacationers in addition to the tourists.

The main attraction is the Temple of the Tooth, and enough has been written about it to keep it brief here. It was truck-bombed about ten years ago, so there are multiple searches of your bag and your person before you’re allowed in. You have to cover your legs and wear sleeves “to respect the sacredness,” but there are guys with machine guns all over the place, and besides the waiting time (in lines where the women pushed and shoved each other), I found my first two searches rough and rude enough to only make it into the compound, not into the temple itself. Besides, when I stopped to take a photo I set my offering of flowers down, which apparently contaminated them, so there was just no point. (The temple elephant stole and ate them a little later.)

(The temple elephant was one of the highlights of the Temple of the Tooth for me. I’d never actually touched an elephant before, and I got to feed this one slices of mango. I thought he’d take them delicately with his trunk, but no, he expected to have them shoved into his mouth. It’s a different experience, shoving half your arm into an elephant’s mouth.)

The rest of the town is pleasant to walk through, and the walk around the lake is pretty, although there’s a lot of traffic, and therefore noise and fumes. Lots of birds on that walk, including kingfishers and cormorants, and a huge group of enormous, noisy bats (flying foxes, I think). There’s a wildlife park above the Temple of the Tooth that I didn’t get to, but if the town is that full of creatures (and even my hotel had a sign posted to keep the windows closed because of the monkeys), I would assume the park would be more so.

I only had a few hours in Kandy before heading over to the Botanical Gardens and the Elephant Orphanage, and from there to Colombo. Wish I’d had more time…

  • Last visit to Kandy: Jan 2007
  • Intro Updated Jan 15, 2007
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tayloretc

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