One of the must see Cities when you visit Sri Lanka, famous for its spices, sacred temples and mountainous roads surrounding the city. Its a must visit!
I caught a 3 hour bus from Dambulla bus station to Kandy city, it cost me 300 rupees (£1.20) bargain! This is the most popular way of travelling around Sri Lanka on a budget. Another is renting a tuk tuk for getting round the roads quicker and more privately, which also measn you have transport around Kandy.
Hostels I found and stayed in;
1. Elephant sanctuary
This was 1 and half hours from Kandy through beautiful scenery, going round and along the mountain roads higher and higher, until I arrived at an area with 2 well known Elephant Sanctuaries called Pinnawala, a small quiet town.
The first is the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage , which is very well advertised, but also is a lot more expensive. The second is the Millenium Elephant Foundation Sanctuary which is what I headed to, they have several packages for entry, the most expensive being £15, the most cost effective being £8 (2000 rupiahs), this meant you could wash the elephants, got a guided tour and information about what the sanctuary does to help the elephants, and also free roam of the sanctuary ground for as long as you want afterwards.
Each elephant has a daily bath, has a private nest at the back of the land, and also has a daily jungle walk through over-grown areas within the grounds, for a happy and active life. In all the Sanctuary currently has 9 elephants, and 1 elephant which was born in the last 9 years it has been running. For 300 rupiahs extra I also got to feed the elephants some fresh fruit . They are so beautiful, so gentle and clever it was a beautiful experience.
The sanctuary also has a Bungalow on the property for people to stay there and grow their own vegetables and fruits for the elephants to eat due to how much they need which saves the sanctuary money on food.
2. Tuk tuk around the mountainous jungle roads
Around Kandy there are winding main roads like a ribbon round the mountains, going through small towns, edging on rural villages, and the views of the Sri Lankan jungle is so impressive. Monkeys on the side of the road, the fruit stall owners with neatly piled Mangos, fresh as can be! The views on a clear day are breathtaking with the different coloured trees the further they headed back.
3. Spice markets
There are several spice gardens dotted around Sri Lanka in different areas, the spice plantations again being much larger and rural so these give a great insight into just what Sri Lanka has to offer. Cinnamon, Aloe Vera, Herbal remedies, Cummin and other spices, which all have the authentic small shops for you to decide which ones you would like to buy for yourself or even a souvenir.
4. Sacred Tooth Temple
Cover up legs and shoulders, Pay the entrance fee, and enjoy walking around the temple before the 6pm evening ceremony of opening the Sacred tooth box and curtains up. This only happens once everyday, and it literally is apparently a tooth of Buddha himself. The decorative walls around the city also represent the significance of this temple with white almost tooth like shapes around the lake and temple grounds.
5. Kandy Lake
Beautiful when the sun is setting with beautiful colours and ambiance as you walk along it. Due to the spirituality and religious pull of the city you will find Monks who take trolls around the lake at times walking towards the Scared tooth temple which is just by the side of it. Also known as Kiri Muhuda or the Sea of Milk, the lake is actually an artificial lake which was built out in the 1800s by the King at the time,
6. Walk along the railway tracks
I had heard about the open train tracks in Kandy and i did have a walk along some of them just like the locals, who were all heading home from work and school as I did. These tracks run to Kandy station which carries on to the capital of Colombo and Ella.
7. Visit the Buddha on top of the hill
The Bahiravokanda Vihara Buddha Statue looks over the whole of Kandy from the highest point in the city, for the hikers its a good up hill hike to the top, for the ones with a tuk tuk you can drive up the winding roads to the entrance. What is quite unusual about this statue is you can climb the back of it to really see the best views of the city below.
8. Take in the Kandy Streets
One of the main streets is full of electrical stores, supermarkets, and books stores, another full of restaurants with a British influence, beeping from the tuk tuks. Colonial buildings built high and proud above the rest, with busy restaurants all around them. The old with the new, the tourist spots with the local banks and markets, it was good to be back in a city!
9. Visit the War Cemetary
Tucked up one of the winding roads out of Kandy is the World War memorial with beautiful views of the surrounding jungle, if you weren’t aware of it you would drive past. I headed there with my tuk tuk driver who had given me a whole day itinerary, I was so glad for this one. Over 200 soldiers lay here from the Second and First World Wars, 107 of them are British. It really made me emotional due to the fact i was on my own in a foreign country just like they were, but they didn’t make it home! Very touching!
10. Kandy Botanical Gardens
A little drive outside of the main city, but worth a visit for 2000 rupiahs entry, on a sunny day its perfect to get away from the hustle and bustle to an area full of trees, bright flowers and grass. I took my book, and also a sketch book, before I knew it I had been there 4 hours!
11. The Kandy Dancing Concert
A wonderful hour concert, really showing the culture behind the city, with colourful costumes, face paint and music, it happens every night and is always a full show so book in advance. Kandyan dance encompasses various dance forms popular and native to the area, which then spread across teh country.
12. Tea factories
Sri Lanka is very famous for its tea plantations up in the higher parts of the country, but within the hills around Kandy, you can find some of the tea factories which then deal with the tea leaves from the mountains. I visited Embilmeegama Tea Factory in Pilimathalawa , about 30 minutes from Kandy. Over a day are dried, sorted and pack into the different tea types, then shipped around the world. I don’t even like tea but found it fascinating to learn about it.
As you can see Kandy has a lot going for it as the second largest city in Sri Lanka, and is the perfect stop before heading into the mountains, it has the culture, the history, the food and diversity to accommodate everyone’s interests. Enjoy.
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