Heritage & Culture of Kandy

Kandy holds immense heritage and cultural importance in Sri Lanka. It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988 due to its rich history, unique traditions, and significant landmarks. Here are some aspects of Kandy’s heritage and cultural significance.

These sacred places in Kandy attract devotees, pilgrims, and visitors who seek spiritual solace and an opportunity to experience the rich Buddhist heritage of Sri Lanka. They also offer architectural beauty, cultural insights, and a sense of tranquility amidst the bustling city.

Sacred Places and Important Places of Kandy

Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic (Sri Dalada Maligawa)

The Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, also known as Sri Dalada Maligawa, is a Buddhist temple located in the city of Kandy, Sri Lanka. It is one of the most important religious sites in the country and is considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The temple houses the Sacred Tooth Relic, which is believed to be the left upper canine tooth of Lord Buddha. It is considered a sacred relic by Buddhists and is highly venerated. The tooth relic has a significant historical and cultural importance in Sri Lanka, and it is believed to bring prosperity and blessings to the country.The temple complex itself is quite large and consists of several buildings and structures. The main shrine is the two-story golden-roofed temple that houses the Sacred Tooth Relic.

Inside the temple, you will find a series of richly decorated chambers and halls, including the Octagon (Pattirippuwa) and the Audience Hall (Magul Maduwa). These areas are adorned with intricate woodwork, paintings, and carvings, showcasing the rich architectural and artistic heritage of Sri Lanka.

The temple is not only a place of worship but also an important cultural center. It attracts both local devotees and tourists who come to witness the religious ceremonies, especially the daily ritual of the “Pooja” (offerings) to the Sacred Tooth Relic. The temple also houses a museum where you can learn more about the history and significance of the tooth relic.

Visiting the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic is a memorable experience that provides insight into Sri Lanka’s Buddhist heritage and spirituality. It is advisable to dress modestly and remove footwear before entering the temple, as a sign of respect.

The Royal Palace of Kandy (Mahawasala)

The Royal Palace of Kandy is indeed a must-visit historical attraction in Kandy, Sri Lanka. Its location to the north of the Temple of the Tooth adds to its significance and makes it easily accessible for visitors.

The palace holds great historical importance as it was the residence of the last king of the Kandyan Kingdom, Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe. Its origins can be traced back to the 14th century, making it a repository of the kingdom’s rich heritage and legacy.

The palace complex consisted of several structures, including the King’s Palace (Raja Wasala), Royal Audience Hall (Magul Maduwa), Queen’s Palace (Meda Wasala), King’s Harem Quarters (Palle Vahale), and Queen’s Bathing Pavilion (Ulpange). These buildings were an important part of the royal court and served various functions related to the administration and residence of the royal family.

Exploring the Royal Palace allows you to witness the grandeur and splendor of the Kandyan Kingdom. The impeccable architecture of the palace, with its intricate details and design, will leave you awe-inspired.

Esala Perahera

The Kandy Esala Perahera is a spectacular religious and cultural festival held in the city of Kandy, Sri Lanka. It is considered one of the grandest and most important festivals in the country, attracting thousands of visitors from all over the world.

The festival takes place over a period of 10 days in the month of Esala (July or August) according to the lunar calendar. The main highlight of the festival is the procession, or perahera, which features a grand parade of traditional dancers, drummers, acrobats, fire performers, and beautifully decorated elephants.

The focal point of the procession is the sacred tooth relic of Lord Buddha, which is housed in the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic (Sri Dalada Maligawa). The tooth relic is placed in a golden casket and carried on the back of a majestic tusker elephant, known as the “Maligawa Tusker.” The elephant is adorned with elaborate costumes, jewelry, and decorations.

The perahera begins with a series of traditional rituals and ceremonies held inside the temple premises. As the festival progresses, the nightly processions take place on the streets of Kandy.

The festival not only showcases the rich cultural heritage of Sri Lanka but also serves as a religious event to honor the sacred tooth relic. Devotees and spectators line the streets to witness the procession and make offerings to the sacred relic, seeking blessings and protection.

Attending the Kandy Esala Perahera is an incredible experience that offers a glimpse into Sri Lanka’s vibrant culture, spirituality, and devotion. It is advisable to book accommodations well in advance if you plan to visit during the festival, as it attracts a large number of tourists.

Bahirawakanda Temple

Bahirawakanda Temple is a prominent Buddhist temple located in Kandy, Sri Lanka. It is situated on Bahirawakanda Hill, which offers panoramic views of the city.

The main attraction of Bahirawakanda Temple is the towering white Buddha statue that stands at a height of 88 feet (26.8 meters). The statue is one of the largest Buddha statues in Sri Lanka and is visible from various parts of Kandy. It is a symbol of peace and tranquility and is a popular pilgrimage site for both locals and tourists.

To reach the temple, visitors can climb the steps or use a vehicle to reach the hilltop. The climb to the temple is rewarded with breathtaking views of Kandy and its surrounding landscapes.

Bahirawakanda Temple is not only a place of religious significance but also a popular tourist attraction. Many visitors come to admire the majestic Buddha statue, enjoy the panoramic views, and soak in the serene atmosphere. It is a recommended spot for photography enthusiasts as well, as it offers stunning views of Kandy.

Lankatilaka Temple

Lankatilaka Temple, also known as Lankatilaka Vihara, is a significant Buddhist temple located in Hiyarapitiya, near Kandy, Sri Lanka. It is renowned for its architectural beauty and historical importance.

The temple was built during the reign of King Bhuvanekabahu IV in the 14th century. It is considered one of the finest examples of traditional Sinhalese temple architecture from the Gampola Kingdom period. The name “Lankatilaka” translates to “the resplendent temple of Lanka,” emphasizing its importance and grandeur.

The main feature of Lankatilaka Temple is its towering brick and stone image house (gedige) and the massive standing Buddha statue inside. The image house is adorned with intricate carvings and designs, showcasing the craftsmanship of the era. The Buddha statue, which stands at around 41 feet (12.5 meters) tall, is a remarkable sight to behold.

Visiting Lankatilaka Temple provides an opportunity to explore the architectural brilliance and cultural heritage of Sri Lanka. The serene atmosphere and beautiful surroundings make it a peaceful place for meditation and reflection.

Degaldoruwa Raja Maha Viharaya

Degaldoruwa Raja Maha Viharaya, also known as Degaldoruwa Temple, is a historic Buddhist temple located in Amunugama, near Kandy, Sri Lanka. It is renowned for its beautiful wall paintings and historical significance.

The temple was built during the Kandyan Kingdom in the 18th century and is considered a prime example of traditional Kandyan temple architecture. It was constructed by King Kirthi Sri Rajasinghe, who sought to preserve and promote Buddhism during his reign.

One of the notable features of Degaldoruwa Temple is its exquisite wall paintings, which adorn the interior walls of the temple. These murals depict various scenes from Buddhist mythology and Jataka tales, illustrating important teachings and stories related to Buddhism. The paintings are characterized by their vibrant colors, intricate details, and artistic finesse.

The temple also houses a small image house, which contains a standing Buddha statue and other statues of Buddhist deities. The tranquility and spiritual ambiance of the temple make it a serene place for devotees and visitors alike.

Visiting Degaldoruwa Temple offers a glimpse into Sri Lanka’s rich cultural and religious heritage. The temple’s historical and artistic significance, combined with its peaceful setting, make it a rewarding destination for those interested in Buddhist art and architecture.

Embekke Devalaya

Embekke Devalaya is a historic temple located in Embekka, near Kandy in Sri Lanka. It is renowned for its intricate woodwork and is considered a masterpiece of traditional Sinhalese architecture.

The temple was built during the reign of King Vikramabahu III in the 14th century. It was dedicated to the worship of the deity known as Kataragama Deviyo (Lord Murugan), as well as to the guardian deities of Saman and Vishnu.

The most striking feature of Embekka Devalaya is its elaborately carved wooden pillars, beams, and other architectural elements. These wooden carvings display exquisite craftsmanship and depict a wide range of motifs, including floral patterns, dancers, musicians, animals, and mythological figures. Each carving is unique and showcases the skill and artistry of the ancient craftsmen.

The temple complex consists of several buildings, including the main shrine, the Drummers’ Hall, and the Hewisi Mandapaya (Dancing Hall). The Drummers’ Hall is particularly noteworthy, as it features a roof supported by 18 wooden pillars, each adorned with intricate carvings.

Visiting Embekka Devalaya offers a unique opportunity to explore the rich artistic heritage of Sri Lanka and appreciate the craftsmanship of the ancient builders and craftsmen. The temple’s serene setting, surrounded by lush greenery, adds to its charm and tranquility.

Gadaladeniya Temple

Gadaladeniya Temple, also known as Gadaladeniya Raja Maha Viharaya, is a Buddhist temple located in Pilimathalawa, near Kandy in Sri Lanka. It is known for its unique blend of South Indian and Sinhalese architectural styles and its historical significance.

The temple was built in the 14th century during the reign of King Bhuvanekabahu IV by a South Indian architect named Ganesvarachari. The architectural style of Gadaladeniya Temple reflects the influence of the Dravidian architecture of South India, combined with traditional Sinhalese elements.

The main shrine of the temple is built on a stone platform and is dedicated to Lord Buddha. The walls of the shrine feature beautiful carvings and intricate designs, showcasing the artistic skills of the craftsmen of that era. The temple also houses statues of Hindu deities, such as God Vishnu and God Skanda, reflecting the harmonious coexistence of Buddhism and Hinduism in Sri Lanka.

One of the striking features of Gadaladeniya Temple is its octagonal-shaped stupa (dagoba), which is constructed in the South Indian architectural style. The stupa is adorned with decorative stone carvings and provides a unique visual appeal.

Visiting Gadaladeniya Temple offers a glimpse into the cultural and religious heritage of Sri Lanka. The serene atmosphere and picturesque surroundings make it a peaceful place for devotees and visitors to explore and appreciate the architectural beauty and historical significance of the temple.

International Buddhist Museum

Sri Dalada Maligawa kandy has established the International Buddhist Museum (IBM). It is indeed fascinating to see the development and spread of Buddhism throughout different parts of Asia and the rest of the world.

The IBM serves as a platform to showcase the diverse practices and traditions of Buddhism, both Theravada and Mahayana, followed in various countries. It allows visitors to explore the different systems of Buddhism and gain a deeper understanding of the religion as a whole.

As Buddhism spread from its birthplace in India, it adapted and evolved in different regions, incorporating local customs, beliefs, and cultural elements. The IBM provides a comprehensive view of these regional variations, highlighting the unique practices and rituals associated with Buddhism in different countries.

By visiting the International Buddhist Museum, one can gain insights into the historical, philosophical, and cultural aspects of Buddhism and appreciate the global impact of this ancient religion. It serves as an educational and enriching experience for those interested in Buddhism and its diverse manifestations.

Ambuluwawa Tower

Ambuluwawa Tower, also known as Ambuluwawa Biodiversity Complex, is a notable tourist attraction located near Gampola, close to Kandy in Sri Lanka. It is a unique tower and ecological park that offers panoramic views of the surrounding landscape and provides opportunities for recreational activities.

The Ambuluwawa Tower stands atop the Ambuluwawa Mountain, which is approximately 1,100 meters above sea level. The tower itself is a distinctive architectural structure that resembles a Buddhist stupa (dagoba) and showcases a blend of cultural and ecological elements. It is surrounded by lush greenery and offers breathtaking views of the central highlands, tea plantations, and distant mountains.

One of the main attractions of Ambuluwawa Tower is the observation deck, located at the top of the tower. From here, visitors can enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding countryside, including the towns of Gampola and Kandy, as well as the scenic beauty of the region.

The Ambuluwawa Tower and Biodiversity Complex offer a unique blend of natural beauty, cultural significance, and recreational opportunities. It is a popular destination for nature lovers, photography enthusiasts, and those seeking a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of city life.

The Ceylon Tea Museum

The Ceylon Tea Museum at Hantane, near Kandy. It sounds like a comprehensive and well-designed facility that offers a unique and informative experience for visitors.

The ground floor and second floor showcasing old machinery provide a glimpse into the historical aspects of tea production in Sri Lanka. The presence of a library and auditorium on the first floor suggests that visitors can access additional resources and audiovisual presentations to enhance their knowledge of tea.

The third floor, dedicated to tea sales outlets, allows visitors to purchase and sample a variety of Sri Lanka’s finest teas, providing a chance to take home some quality tea products.The tea cafe on the entire top floor offers a unique setting to relax and enjoy a cup of tea while taking in the panoramic view of Kandy and the surrounding hills through the telescope.

The landscaped grounds featuring different varieties of tea add to the overall ambiance of the museum, creating a serene and immersive environment for visitors. The museum’s location in close proximity to attractions like the Peradeniya Botanical Gardens and Loolecondera estate further enhances its appeal, making it a convenient addition to the itinerary of those exploring the hill country.

Kandy Garrison Cemetery

The Kandy Garrison Cemetery, also known as the British Garrison Cemetery or the Kandy War Cemetery, is a historic cemetery located in Kandy, Sri Lanka. It is a resting place for British colonial-era soldiers and other individuals who served under the British administration in Sri Lanka.

The cemetery dates back to the early 19th century and is situated in a serene and well-maintained area. It was primarily used to bury British soldiers who died while stationed in Kandy or during military campaigns in the region. The cemetery is a testament to the British colonial presence in Sri Lanka and serves as a reminder of the history and sacrifices made during that time.

Visiting the Kandy Garrison Cemetery offers an opportunity to reflect on the colonial past of Sri Lanka and pay respects to those who served. The tranquil atmosphere and well-maintained surroundings provide a peaceful environment for visitors to contemplate and appreciate the historical significance of the site.

Cultural Importance

Kandyan Dance and Music

Kandy is known for its traditional Kandyan dance and music. This unique form of dance involves intricate footwork, graceful movements, and elaborate costumes. The drumming and music accompanying the dance add to its lively and rhythmic nature. Visitors have the opportunity to watch captivating Kandyan dance performances in various cultural shows and events.

The dance form incorporates elements of various aspects of Sri Lankan culture, including martial arts, folklore, and religious rituals. It is traditionally performed to the beats of drums known as “geta beraya” and “yak beraya,” accompanied by other traditional musical instruments such as flute, cymbals, and the conch shell.

Handicrafts and Art

Kandy is renowned for its skilled artisans and traditional handicrafts. The city is a hub for the production of exquisite handicrafts such as wood carvings, brassware, batik textiles, and traditional Kandyan jewelry. Visitors can explore local markets and workshops to witness the craftsmanship and purchase these authentic Sri Lankan souvenirs.

Traditional Medicine

Kandy is home to the ancient practice of Ayurveda, a traditional system of medicine. The city has Ayurvedic centers and herbal gardens where visitors can learn about traditional healing methods, receive treatments, and purchase herbal products.

Architectural Importance

Kandy’s architectural marvels reflect its rich heritage. The Royal Palace of Kandy, located adjacent to the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, showcases traditional Kandyan architecture. Visitors can explore its audience hall, residential quarters, and stunning gardens. Another architectural gem is the Lankatilaka Temple, known for its impressive stone carvings and panoramic views of the surrounding landscape.

The city’s architecture reflects its rich history and colonial past. The British influence is evident in structures such as the Kandy Clock Tower and the Old Municipal Building.

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