Table of Contents
- 11 Activities in Kandy Apart from the Tooth Relic Temple
- Way to explore the former capital of the Sri Lankan kings!
- Things to do in Kandy Not Only at the Tooth Relic Temple
- Walking across the Knuckles Mountain Range
- Trekking in the Hanthana Mountain Range
- Lankathilaka Temple
- Embekke Temple
- Gadaladeniya Temple
- Bahirawakanda Temple
- Peradeniya’s Royal Botanical Gardens
- University of Peradeniya
- Ambuluwawa’s Biodiversity Complex
- Saradiel Village
- Nelligala International Buddhist Centre
- Where to Eat in Kandy
11 Activities in Kandy Apart from the Tooth Relic Temple
If I come across any more blog posts recommending wandering around the city lake as one of the top things to do in Kandy, I swear I will lose it. The lake itself is nice, but you’ll probably pass it ten or more times a day anyhow because it’s located right in the midst of the city, next to the Temple of the Tooth Relic.
As the locals refer to it, Sri Dalada Maligawa is the main draw in Kandy; therefore, it is part of most trips to Kandy. Buses packed with visitors actually exclusively make stops in Kandy in order to see the temple.
Way to explore the former capital of the Sri Lankan kings!
Let me acknowledge that I made the same mistake, even if I’m being sarcastic about it now. On my first two trips to Kandy, I simply went to the Temple of the Tooth and the lake I mentioned earlier. It’s not surprising that I didn’t fall in love with Kandy. The temple is crowded and has a more commercial than spiritual vibe despite its grandeur and splendour. This is not to discourage you from visiting the temple. I think the temple is necessary. Like with the Eiffel Tower in Paris or Red Square in Moscow, you just have to see it once, no matter how long lines are at the ticket desk. Don’t stop there, though; Kandy has a multitude of amazing things to do.
Things to do in Kandy Not Only at the Tooth Relic Temple
Kandy is one of the most popular holiday destinations in Sri Lanka and attract a large number of local and foreign travellers everyday. Kandy is one of the most important part of Sri Lanka trips package. Venturing on a trip to Kandy is the best way to explore this fascinating hill country resort with colonial vibe. The Kandy trip availabel in many such as 1 day Kandy tour, 2 days trip to Kandy as well as multi-day Sri Lanka trip with Kandy.
Walking across the Knuckles Mountain Range
The first destinations that come to mind while considering trekking and mountain exploration in Sri Lanka are Nuwara Eliya and Ella. Not many people know that Kandy may be a pleasant base from which to explore the breathtaking Knuckles Mountain Range. The early British explorers named this range by the way it resembles the knuckles of a closed fist when viewed from some spots in Kandy. Locals call it Dumbara Kanduvetiya, or the Misty Mountain Range.
Going knuckles alone is not a suggested strategy. Unlike national parks and forests in many other countries, Sri Lanka’s parks may not always be tourist-friendly. There are no clear paths, no signs pointing you in the right direction, and no one to help you for miles at a time.
Make arrangements for a guide to give you a tour of the area by asking the travel agency you are using. How long you want to spend on the stroll is up to you. You could go on a multi-day trip and spend the night in the mountains, but I chose to go on an up-and-down hike in a single day. The price for a day of trekking varies from Rs $50 to $75, depending on the guide.
Trekking in the Hanthana Mountain Range
The Hanthana Mountain Range is a great place to hike if you’re in Kandy. It features seven peaks, with Uura Kanda standing at the highest altitude at 3,800 feet. The base of Hanthana is closer than it is to Knuckles; it only took us thirty minutes to get there.
There are multiple treks and seven summits, so the book should help you choose wisely. Our three hours of walking were rather easy; we walked through beautiful sun-lit tea gardens, ascended to a hill overlooking the valley, and returned through the jungle, where on the short way back we had to hop over a sleeping snake. Another justification for hiring a guide! The price for a day of trekking varies from $40 to $60, depending on the guide.
Not too far from one other, the two temples I’ll be describing here and Lankathilaka Temple are located outside of Kandy. Compared to the Temple of the Tooth Relic, they give a more true idea of the ambiance of Buddhist temples in Sri Lanka. I considered Lankathilaka to be the best of the three. The location of this historic temple, which King Bhuvanekabahu IV constructed in the fourteenth century, is about thirty minutes’ drive from Kandy city.The temple was built on an uneven rock surface called Panhalgala. Along with Embekke Temple, Lankathilaka is considered one of the most technically complex buildings from the Gampola Kingdom period.
The most unusual Buddhist temple I have seen in Sri Lanka is called Embekke Devalaya. Its rafters, entrances, beams, and pillars are all adorned with woodcarvings. While most Sri Lankan temples are built of stone or brick, Embekke’s ornate wooden pillars reminded me of my home country of Russia, where wood carving has long been a tradition. During the Gampola Era in the fourteenth century, King Vikramabahu III constructed Embekke. The Drummers’ Hall, the Dancing Hall, and the Sanctum of Garagha are its three main components. It is the latter that has the pillars.
Gadaladeniya Temple, which is located close to Lankathilaka Temple and can be reached after a short drive, was constructed in 1344 by King Bhuvanekabahu IV. The original monk who founded the temple gave it the name Dharma Kirthi Viharaya. An Indian architect was responsible for creating its distinctly South Indian design.
The three temples—Lankathilaka, Embekke, and Gadaladeniya—are located outside of Kandy city, despite their relative distance from one another. Renting a tuk-tuk for three or four hours is better if you want to see all three temples in a single day. For roughly 3000 rupees, I rode a tuk-tuk from the hotel to all three temples and back.
If you don’t want to leave the city, another, less frequented temple in Kandy is Bahirawakanda Viharaya. The massive Buddha monument, positioned atop a hill in the centre of Kandy, is visible from almost everywhere. At 88 feet, this Buddha statue is among the tallest in Sri Lanka. This temple was built in the 1970s, therefore it’s quite new.
You can walk up the slope if you’re physically fit. At the top of the short but very steep hill, I’m out of breath. Fortunately, there’s a modest booth just in front of the temple where you can buy king coconuts. Taking a tuk-tuk is another somewhat easier and less taxing option.
Peradeniya’s Royal Botanical Gardens
Approximately five kilometres from Kandy, in the city of Peradeniya, lies the Royal Botanical Gardens, one of the most popular tourist spots. You can easily get here by tuk-tuk in fifteen minutes. It’s estimated that the garden sees about two million visitors annually.
Situated near the Mahaweli, the longest river in Sri Lanka, the gardens span 147 acres. Their history is believed to have started in the fourteenth century, even though they were formally created in 1843. Some of the most popular spots in the gardens are a collection of orchids, a palm avenue, a forty-meter-tall bamboo tree, and a suspension bridge over the Mahaweli River.
University of Peradeniya
The Peradeniya University is located near the Royal Botanical Gardens. If you’re taking the train from Colombo to Kandy, you can get off one stop before Kandy at Peradeniya, where you can explore the university’s grounds, take a leisurely stroll around the Botanical Gardens, and have lunch at Hela Bojun.
The university has several campuses that are somewhat close to one another. To see the most stunning locales, go to the department of arts. Just stroll about the grounds when you get there; they are quite beautiful. I was also surprised to discover that there is a gigantic tree growing next to the milk bar; definitely worth a visit. Locate Sarachchandra, the only outdoor theatre in Sri Lanka, next. It was built in the architectural style of classical Greek theatres and given the name of a Sri Lankan dramatist.
Ambuluwawa’s Biodiversity Complex
One of my personal favourite things to do in Kandy. Drive time is rather involved, as it takes more than 1.5 hours to get to Gampola. On the plus side, though, Gampola is on his way to Nuwara Eliya right now. As such, you can stop at Ambuluwawa if you’re travelling from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya by car.
At more than 3,000 feet above sea level, Ambuluwawa Mountain is home to a biodiversity complex and features a gigantic white spiral structure on top that is reminiscent of a Buddhist stupa.
At the ticket office, you can continue driving the vehicle to the summit of the mountain for a small fee. But you have to work for the breathtaking views from the tower, so if you’re reasonably fit, I think it’s best to leave the car at the gate and hike up. You can climb the tower, which gets thinner as you get closer to the top, until you have to climb the side stairs and risk being pushed over by strong winds. This climb is definitely not for the faint of heart.
The majority of visitors to this peculiar, amusing, and little-known location in Kandy are local youngsters. Robyn Hood, also called Saradiel, was a wealthy Uthuwana, Sri Lankan citizen in the 17th century who stole from the rich and gave the valuables to the less fortunate. Is that not amazing? In Sri Lanka, there was a Robyn Hood!
Near Uthuwankanda Rock, where Saradiel once hid from the authorities, a hamlet was established 10 years ago to offer an insight into 18th-century Ceylonese life. The grounds are unexpectedly large, spanning six acres.
There is an English-speaking tour guide on hand to explain the 18th-century customs and traditions of Sri Lanka. It is said that Uthuwankanda Rock is climbable, although getting there will require a guide.
This is not what I would do on my first visit to Kandy if I were only staying for a few days. But if you’ve already seen all the major sights in the area, this could be a fun way to pass the time.
Nelligala International Buddhist Centre
How little people know about this amazing place astounds me! Perched atop a steep mountain, Nelligala is one of the most gorgeous temples I have ever seen in Sri Lanka. Seven large golden sculptures of Buddha crown the temple. There are not many people in the area, and the site gives stunning views of the Sri Lanka hill country. Charge: none
Where to Eat in Kandy
The best place to try authentic local food in Kandy is Hela Bojun, in my opinion. This neighbourhood food court chain offers traditional dishes at incredibly low prices. The Department of Agriculture started the chain with the intention of empowering rural women and promoting local food.
Every woman who sells food at this open court receives the necessary training, and the monthly rental cost is only about Rs. 1000. Every morning, the supper is freshly prepared and quite delicious. Mostly made up of locals, the throng is usually a good sign.
A hipster café tucked away in a little alleyway, Cafe Secret Alley is well-known for its delectable smoothie bowls. Highly recommended for breakfast!
Eatery Licenced to Grill is a rooftop spot that serves wraps, grilled meats, and burgers. Even though it doesn’t look elegant, the meal is delicious.
The Empire Cafe, a well-liked tourist attraction next to the Temple of the Tooth Relic, has a distinctive interior design and serves a great assortment of Western and Sri Lankan food.
For dinner, Slightly Chilled is the best spot to be because of its fantastic view of Kandy City, creative cocktails, and a menu that combines flavours from the West, China, and Sri Lanka. At night, the place gets crowded and quite raucous.
Nestled close to the Temple of the Tooth is Natural Coffee, a respectable locally sourced coffee company. You can have a cup of Joe or pick up a bag of beans as a keepsake here.
Buono is a different Kandy coffee shop that serves Ceylon coffee. They have great rooftop access and a great atmosphere.