10 Things You Can’t Miss Doing in Kandy, Sri Lanka

Kandy has gained fame internationally for being the home of the sacred tooth relic of Lord Buddha, but is this the only attraction that makes Kandy worth visiting? Kandy offers an all encompassing adventure for visitors to Sri Lanka who are looking for a chance to experience a scenic train ride, a step back in history, and views of stunning mountainous landscapes.

Situated a mere 115 km from Colombo, the most recommended way to travel to Kandy is by train. Travelling by bus or other vehicles will take you on an amazing route as well, but it cannot compare to the views that you will be greeted with during this epic train ride, which ranks among the top greatest train journeys in the world. Read on to discover the top 10 things to do in Kandy.

10. Udawattakale Forest Reserve

Udawattakale functioned as a royal garden during the Kandyan Kingdom (1371–1815). After the kingdom’s fall, the forest faced deforestation until 1856 when it was declared a reserved area. Later, in 1938, it was elevated to sanctuary status, ensuring its safety. Apart from its inherent beauty, Udawattakale is essential to Kandy’s water replenishment. Its streams and springs contribute significantly to the city’s water resources.

The forest is only 104 hectares in size, but it boasts impressive biodiversity. Over 400 plant species, including native lianas and herbs, thrive within its borders. Birdwatchers delight in the reserve’s avian residents, which comprise over 80 different species.

9. Ceylon Tea Museum, Kandy

The Ceylon Tea Museum is a museum dedicated to the history and culture of Sri Lanka’s tea industry. It is located in a former tea factory in Hantana, about 4 km from Kandy. The museum has four floors, each showcasing a different aspect of tea production and processing, such as machinery, tools, documents, photographs, and videos. In addition, the museum features a gift shop, a tea café, and a library. Discover the history of tea in Sri Lanka, the contributions made by the first tea growers, the different types and grades of tea, and the advantages of tea for your health.

8. Botanical Gardens of Kandy

The Botanical Gardens of Kandy, also known as the Royal Botanical Gardens, Peradeniya, are the largest and most famous botanical gardens in Sri Lanka. They are located about 5.5 km from the city of Kandy, near the Mahaweli River, and cover an area of 147 acres. The gardens have more than 4000 species of plants, including orchids, spices, medicinal plants, and palm trees. They also have a rich history and cultural heritage dating back to the 14th century, when they were used as royal gardens by the Kandyan kings.

Some of the main attractions of the gardens are the Avenue of Palms, the Orchid House, the Spice Garden, the Cannonball Tree, and the Giant Bamboo grove.

7. Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage

The Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage teaches visitors about conservation issues and threats to elephants in the wild, such as poaching, habitat loss, and human-elephant conflict. It is located in the village of Pinnawala, approximately 10 kilometres from Kegalle. The Department of Wildlife Conservation established the orphanage in 1975 to care for and protect baby elephants found in the wild without their mothers. The orphanage now contains the largest herd of captive elephants in the world, with over 90 elephants living there.

6. Kandy to Ella Scenic Train Ride

As mentioned earlier, this train ride which takes you from Kandy to Ella is one of the greatest train rides in the world. It takes you through the Hill Country’s breathtaking scenery, including tea plantations, waterfalls, mountains, and villages. Depending on the schedule and the stops, the train ride lasts between six and seven hours. There are various ticket classes available, from first class observation cars to third class regular seats. The train journey is a fantastic way to get to know other tourists and locals while also experiencing Sri Lanka’s culture and scenery.

5. Kandy Cultural Dance Show

A Kandy Cultural Dance Show is a performance showcasing Sri Lanka’s traditional arts, dance, and music. It is held in the city of Kandy, which is the cultural capital of the country and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Kandyan dances that were performed for the Kandyan kings in the past and which originated in the region are showcased in the show in different forms. The dancers use fire, drums, masks, and colourful costumes and jewellery as props. In addition, the show features stunts, acrobatics, and rituals that showcase the performers’ abilities and spirituality.

4. Kandy Lake

King Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe constructed Kandy Lake, an artificial lake in the centre of Kandy, Sri Lanka, in 1807, next to the Temple of the Tooth. Also referred to as the Sea of Milk or Kiri Muhuda, and it is a protected lake where fishing is prohibited. The lake is surrounded by a shaded path that offers a scenic view of the city and the hills.

3. Ambuluwawa Tower

The Ambuluwawa Tower, nestled amidst the scenic hills of Gampola, near Kandy, Sri Lanka, promises breathtaking views and an adventurous climb. Climb to the top of the tower to the 360-degree observation deck, where you can take in breathtaking views of the Hantana Mountains, the Knuckles Mountain Range, and even the far-off Mahaweli River valley. The tower, 3567 feet above sea level, provides a unique vantage point for viewing the region’s lush green landscapes and diverse topography. You will need to ascend 177 narrow spiral steps to get to the top, but the reward is undoubtedly worth it.

2. Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic – Dalada Maligawa

The Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, also known as Sri Dalada Maligawa, is a magnificent Buddhist temple complex in Kandy, Sri Lanka. It houses the sacred tooth relic of the Buddha, one of the country’s most important religious artefacts. The temple was built in the 16th century by King Vimaladharmasuriya I to enshrine the tooth relic, which was brought to Sri Lanka from India centuries earlier. The tooth relic is believed to have miraculous powers and is said to bring good fortune to the country. The temple complex has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is a major pilgrimage destination for Buddhists from around the world.

1. Kandy Esala Perahera

Last but not least is the famous Kandy Esala Perahera, which is held once a year. It is a grand festival held in July and August each year. It comprises a procession of elephants, dancers, drummers, and fire dancers, culminating in a visit to the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic.

These are the main tourist attractions in Kandy that you should not miss out on when visiting Sri Lanka. Visit Apple Vacations to get the best offers and expert advice on planning your trip to Sri Lanka for an unforgettable visit.