The Kandy Heritage Experience

Kandy has a fascinating history of royal succession, religious fervour and stoicism in the face of colonization. Incidentally, it was the last Sri Lankan kingdom to fall to the British colonizers in 1815. All this means that Kandy is one of the most culturally and historically significant cities in Sri Lanka.

The city still has remnants of its glorious kingdom days, in addition to the legacy left behind by the colonizers. Therefore, Kandy is a great place to embark on a heritage experience for those who are captivated by history and culture. Take note that you would need to cover your shoulders and legs in order to enter some of the temples, so it’s best to have a shawl or two in hand.

Sri Dalada Maligawa (Temple of the Tooth Relic)

Head over to the Sri Dalada Maligawa, the home of the Sacred Tooth Relic, located in the center of the city. This temple houses what is believed to be the left canine tooth of Lord Buddha. As you can well imagine, this relic is one of the most sacred in the Buddhist world, and its presence in Kandy has resulted in the city becoming the unofficial religious capital of the nation. There is much to see at the temple, as it has played an important role in the history of Kandy. The Aluth Maligawa (new palace) now serves as a museum, housing many Buddhist relics and historical artifacts.

Kandy National Museum

The Kandy National Museum, located next to the Sri Dalada Maligawa, is another great place to visit. Apart from housing over 5,000 artefacts which depict the historical and cultural events of Kandy, the building of the museum too is significant. Constructed during the reign of the last king of Sri Lanka in the architectural style of the Kandyan period, it was once the home of the king’s harem.

St. Paul’s Church

The British were finally able to conquer the Kingdom of Kandy in 1815, much after the rest of the country succumbed to the colonizers. They soon began to convert the locals to Christianity and built the St. Paul’s Church next to the Sri Dalada Maligawa. The neo-gothic style church is a prime example of the city’s multicultural heritage and is definitely worth a visit.

British Garrison Cemetery

The British Garrison Cemetery, located within the land of the Sri Dalada Maligawa, is the final resting place of many British officials and their families. It doesn’t function as a cemetery any longer, merely a remnant of the country’s colonial past. A walk around the cemetery, reading the inscriptions on the tombstones, can actually be rather interesting as you gain a glimpse into the way of life during the colonial era. An old chapel near the entrance has now been converted into a mini-museum which contains interesting photographs.

Esala Perehera

If you are planning to visit Sri Lanka in the summer, you should definitely organize a visit to Kandy during the grand Esala Perahera (parade), which usually takes place sometime between July and August. You can easily check the dates of the Perahera on its official website and even book tickets. The Esala Perahera is a Buddhist festival consisting of traditional dancers, drummers, whip crackers, fireball acrobats and even elephants decked out in elegant costumes. It is a pretty exciting and entertaining spectacle of local culture.

Trio of Temples

There is a trio of traditional temples that should certainly be part of your Kandy heritage experience. All located about an hour away from Kandy, these temples have rather captivating architectural styles. The Gadaladeniya Viharaya, Embekke Devalaya and Lankathilaka Viharaya can all be undertaken on one sightseeing expedition, as they are located pretty close to each other. They are truly captivating and unique pieces of architecture.