From stunning golden roofed magnificent temple of the tooth to the mystic highlands and starry nights under the cooling breeze from the lake, I have a bundle of experiences to share with you from a weekend of bliss and many places to see in Kandy city….
Talking about the city of Kandy, it is quite different to any other city you would visit in Sri Lanka. Once glorified as a kingdom during the old Ceylonese, it is bursting with beauty and pride like no other city in this beautiful land.
Getting there: A train ride in the Rajadhani express
The journey was interesting right from the start! we decided to take the train from Colombo as the drive would take around 3 hours compared to the car drive that could take up to 5 hours.
Booking the Rajadhani express, which is a luxury train carriage in Sri Lanka was indeed a smart move to have a comfortable ride with AC, good service and of course a clean cabin which was attached to the usual Colombo – kandy train. After getting into the train from Fort ( Colombo) train station around 2.00pm, the entire journey was so breathtaking with the stunning sceneries. At times it was paddy fields touched up in soothing greenery and at times it was mountain tops creating picturesque images which didn’t let me take a nap during the entire trip.. As you keep elevating yourself reaching the hill country in the central Sri Lanka, the view keeps getting better leaving you with refreshing thoughts about the destination you are about the arrive in few minutes.
After arriving at the kandy train station we reached our home for the next 2 days within just few minutes passing through the gorgeous lake and the the temple of tooth while I was promising myself a walk in the night to explore more beauty..
After a quick dinner and refreshing myself, the night just began… I was staying very close the center of attraction in Kandy city- The lake and the temple which is in the top list of places to see in kandy in any kandy guide you can get hold of… It was the time for my inner goddess to jump up and down as the night was glowing with such beauty near the lake… Guess what I reached Kandy during the Christmas eve!
Everything was beyond perfect… The weather, the surrounding, the festive vibe….. I couldn’t have asked for more!
I was told that the people over here say good bye to the night quite early unlike us in Colombo who are used to the city life… But since it was the festive night I didn’t have to bother being alone with just me and myself as there were plenty of people walking by the lake…. The cool breeze was gently caressing my whole body giving me goose bumps at times so I didn’t hesitate to offer myself a hot milk tea which was just perfect after a good walk around the lake.
Make sure to try a hot cup of tea while in Kandy..
Actually one fascinating factor is that even though Sri Lanka is a tiny destination you will be greeted with a different taste in your cup of tea at different parts of the country.. Coming here to kandy where they have their own tea plantations you are sure to try a different taste which is certainly worth trying….
Morning bliss at the Kandy Lake
If you are visitng Kandy city, a walk around the lake is a must!
When the morning dawns in the city of Kandy, it creates the best time to have a walk along the lake area. Since it was the month of December cold festive breeze was all over in spite of the rays of sun creeping through the branches of tall trees which have been shading the area for over 50 years.
You are sure to capture many people dressed up in white clothing making their way to the Temple of tooth at any time of the day.
The kandy lake is an amazing piece of work by the ancient Sri Lankans. It is said that a huge paddy field area was used for this man made artificial lake which was built by King Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe in 1807.
If you are fit enough you can go right around the whole lake area by like a 45 minutes walk admiring the beautiful species around the area and the scenic beauty of mountain tops amidst the shady blue sky.. I didn’t forget to spend some time with cute duckies around the lake who are adding much beauty to the whole place.
The Temple of the tooth: Top Places to see in kandy
You must have read in every travel guide that The temple of the tooth is a definite bucket list in the places to see in kandy. Of course it is a spectacular building which used to be the royal palace of the last kingdom of Sri Lanka before Sri Lanka was captured by Portuguese.
It would just surprise you with every step and make you wonder how Sri Lankans possessed such architectural knowledge and artistic eye at an ancient time like 1592 AD.
But for the Buddhists of Sri Lanka, it holds more value than the architecture itself, it is the place where the Lord Buddha’s tooth relic is held and offering flowers or being present at the time of pooja ( offerings) brings great joy to their hearts on a spiritual level.
The mere fact that its next to the gorgeous lake itself makes this place so special. Each part of the whole building has to be seeing and admired. The octagon ( paththirippuwa) sparkling with the golden roof is the center of attraction which is also considered to be the symbol of identity for kandyan architecture.
The building faced damages in 1998 during a bomb blast by the LTTE and I still remember how the incident totally broke the hearts of all Sri Lankans. However, construction took places immediately to bring it back to the status it is now and enormous amount of tourist visit this extravagantly special place on a daily basis.
If you are thinking of LTTE and bomb blasts, well its no more a fear for Sri Lankans as the country has gained peace and prosperity after the war has ended.
The Ambuluwawa temple
After spending time enjoying the lake breeze and the spiritual happiness at the temple, it was time to go for a bit of a hike away from the kandy city. After a good lunch with Sri Lankan curries and spices we started heading towards Ambuluwawa temple which is located in Gampola. It was about an hours drive and it was indeed magical and glorious as we keep elevating ourselves up on the hill. I didn’t hesitate to trouble the driver and take some beautiful shots…It was more like seeing the whole city of Kandy at one point..
The history of the temple is quite an interesting one. According to the to medieval belief it is said that Ambuluwawa is the place where Hanuma built a bridge to connect Sri Lanka with South India. Through extensive research it has been found that more than 200 varieties of plants including medicinal plants exist in this mountain area which is not the case in any other mountain areas in Sri Lanka. This bio diversity has made Ambuluwawa a precious place for Sri Lankans.
It’s actually quite a difficult climb but thanks to our 4 wheel driver vehicle we could go up half way and then continue the journey on foot. Even though I was under the impression that Ambuluwawa is a temple, it was informed that the sacred place carries hindu, Islamic and Christian symbols which creates an environment with religious harmony.
You will be passing through the beautifully landscaped gardens with different kinds of flowers and reach the pagoda. Unlike the pagodas you would find in Sri Lanka, you can enter the pagoda and keep walking on the steps that takes you right on top of it.
Once you reach the top the view would just take your breath away!!! Its one of the most magical sceneries I have ever captured in Sri Lanka. You can’t just keep your eyes or your camera away from this view… As it started drizzling when we begin climbing up, it was kind of difficult at times as some steps are built up from the outside of pagoda and the strong wind that blows with the drizzle can make you feel like you will be blown away into the air.
But taking that trouble of climbing to the top of the pagoda was more than worth it. You could see the entire area painted in lush greenery, amazing mountains tops as though you are viewing a beautifully crafted art…
I was told that there is more research carries out to understand the unique bio diversity of the area and the unique soil that belongs to it.
The Victoria Dam
As we were reaching towards the last day of our trip in Kandy, we decided to go and see the Victoria Dam and then head back to Colombo. From Kandy its about 1.30 hours of drive and the Dam is situated in Theldeniya. What is so important about the place is that Victoria dam is the highest dam in Sri Lanka with the largest power station. Its an absolute giant with a catchment area of about 730 sq. miles of the Mahaweli river.
The construction work of the dam has started in 1978 with the help of British government and it was opened for operations in 1985. As you reach the dedicated area to view the dam, there is a recording which explains the history of the whole project and there are number of exhibits including the initial planning of the project.
During the time where Sri Lanka was facing the deadly war with the LTTE, Sri Lankan government has taken every step to protect the dam from a bomb blast as such could have destroyed the whole of Kandy with the explosion and also the flood that would have resulted with the blast.
The view of the dam surrounded by beautiful greenery is quite a scene and morning cold weather and the gorgeous flora and fauna was definelty adding more beauty to the place.
There is a small cafeteria where you can buy locally produced dairy items including milk, yogurt and ice cream which are so creamy and tasty.
Once you enjoy the beauty of the dam and fill yourself with the history and information, you could head over to the Victoria golf club which is few mints away. If you fancy a five-star meal under the open verandah with the serene view of the golf court, this is the place!
Golfing is more than a game in this beautifully landscaped golf court with the cool breeze and there are many more activities such as tennis, cycling, yoga etc if you have enough time to spend at the golf club.
So that was the end of my long awaited kandy tour and we were heading back to Colombo with the same train service. Even though I loved the ride from Colombo to Kandy, I must say that the return journey was not so pleasant as the train was delayed by like 2.30 hours. If you are travelling by train, this is something to expect…
I must tell you that there are many many places to see in Kandy but you have to pick and choose based on timing and your interest. If you are looking for more spiritual places there are plenty of temples with a long standing history apart from the the temple of tooth relic. If you happen to visit in the month of August, The Kandy Esala Perahera (the Esala procession of Kandy) is a must see and you really need to book your tickets way in advance as tourists from around the world make a trip to see this stunning festival.
If you are an animal lover you might fancy a trip to the elephant orphanage in pinnawala or hike to the Udawatta forest or the Hanthana mountain range. If you are more keen on the history of Sri Lanka, it will be worth exploring the famous Dambulla cave temple or the national musesm.
My trip was quite away from the ordinary itinerary you would get from a travel agent but a real experience to get a taste of Kandy and its glorious history..
Tune in for more blogs about Sri Lanka and other destinations with my fist hand experiences.