There is quite a long walk leading to the temple at the end of which, you remove your shoes, buy some offerings if you wish and them climb a few steps to the main entrance (Western Gate). Two buildings make up the palace complex, the Entrance Tunnel and the Drumming Hall. You may notice that the moonstone is more decorative that the ones you have seen in Anuradhapura and elsewhere.
The morning ritual was in progress when we visited the temple. There are three of these, 5.30 am to 8.00 am, 9.30 am to 11.00 am and in the evening from 6.30 pm to 8 pm. On Wednesdays, along with the midday service, there is a weekly ritual symbolising the bathing the Buddha. Three temple priests were beating the 67 cms. Kandyan drums, the ‘geta beras’. Going beyond this Drumming Hall, past a flight of steps, we came across a small stupa in a corner, believed to contain some valuables offered to the temple. Climbing the wooden stairs, we came to the main room, the Vedahitina Maligawa (Tooth Relic Shrine) where the crowd was overwhelming. Inside the inner chamber is the golden casket which contains the Sacred Tooth Relic. It is supposed to be encased in seven baskets inside a bullet-proof chamber. A smaller golden basket carried by the Temple Elephant during the Esala Mangallaya (Dalada Perahera or procession) during the full moon of July-August, is also housed inside the shrine. Next to this, on the ground floor is the three-storeyed New Palace built in 1936, where a huge golden statue of the Buddha, along with plenty of tusks, are kept.
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The museum of the Temple is located on the second and third floors of the New Palace. Rare manuscripts, statues, murals and carvings and other similar artefacts are housed here.
When you leave the main building and go towards the rear, there is another statue of the Buddha. Going past this you will come across a fine wooden architecture, the Mangul Maduwa (The Royal Court). Next to it is a house dedicated to ‘Raja’, the revered tusker who faithfully carried out his duties during the annual July-August procession for over 50 years. The taxidermist has done a good job and Raja looks as regal as ever.
“The legend regarding the construction of the Dalada Maligava is another interesting story. The King had come personally with his astrologer Hulangamuve Mulachariya to view the jaya bhoomi. Viewing the marshes and hills around, the King was reluctant to settle there and had instructed the astrologer to consult the oracle for 48 hours.
“After further consulting the oracle, the astrologer had predicted what would be found on digging the jaya bhoomi. First he said white clay would be found: it was found. Next he said, would come sand, and next he said, there would be water. The astrologer then asked for a white cloth, and the king got excited and asked anxiously whether he expected to find gem stones, but the astrologer said, a white tortoise would be found and it was found.
“The King was delighted with the accuracy of the predictions and decided to build the city at the site with his palace there. But, to his disappointment, the astrologer said it was too good a site for his palace and should be the site of a temple. Hence, the King decided to make it a place of Buddhist worship and erected the Dalada Maligava there, later enshrining the Tooth Relic as well.
“A small pool near the east end of what is now the lake was made for the Kiri ibba (small white tortoise) and it was called the Kiri Muhuda. Later this land was asweddumised as paddy land for the King, and finally the last King converted it into the present lake which also came to be known as the Kiri Muhuda.”
The next day at 8.30 in the morning, we left for Kandy. Enroute, we stopped at the Ranweli Spice Garden, Matale, about 100 kms (2.5 hrs) from Anuradhapura. This is a vast plantation with myriad variety of spices and herbs. An experienced salesman explained about all the different varieties of spices and herbs and their medicinal prowess. A free neck and back massage was also included. At the end, we were led to a shop where we could select various products. As most of the items were exorbitantly priced, we declined politely and were soon on our way to Kandy, a distance of roughly 30 kms.
To escape the crowds at the temple you can venture out into the temple grounds. Here among the courtyards you'll find the Alut Maligawa (New Shrine Room), Sri Dalada Museum, Audience Hall and Raja Tusker Museum.
The temple is home to Sri Lanka's most important Buddhist relic, a tooth of the Buddha. This attracts pilgrims from all over the island as well as outside Sri Lanka. When I was there the temple was packed with both pilgrims and tourists
I've noted posts that complain about the prices charged in spice gardens and the pressure from the tour guides to buy. Tour guides are given 40% commission from the spice gardens so that can add up to a good income for them. Same with the Kandy Dance Hall - there is commission paid on tickets to the touts that hang around the Queens Hotel. We encountered one Kandy tout who daily sits outside the Queens Hotel trying to get tourists into the Dance Hall and then the Temple of the Tooth. His ultimate aim is to fleece the tourist. He also takes tourists trekking into the Knuckles range with camping and sleeping outside. He is a predator of the worst kind as my friend was stuck with him in the Knuckles range and this predator made a sexual advance towards my friend. Some of these touts are really awful so be careful they are not insured - its better to pay a little more and go with an affliated tourist guide.
The practice of Ayuervedic Medicine is very common in Sri Lanka.
I first got to know about Ayuerveda when I was in Kerala. Since then I always enjoy the relaxing massage with the ayuervedic oils. Shirodara is another treatment I can reccomend.
During my stay in Kandy I went for a massage and herbal steam bath, which was great after the long trip to Sri Lanka.
I went to Wedamedura, which was reccomended by my 3-wheeler guide, and then saw it was also in Lonely Planet. It is a bit out of the city, but was worth the visit.
Close to the "spa", is a wonderful restaurant, called DJ's, where I had great Sri Lankan food (see restaurant tips).
One of the things that I wanted to do on my travels was to bathe elephants and have an "elephant shower" and so after researching where I could do this on my trip to Sri Lanka, I was told at "Millennium Elephant Foundation".
The Foundation is located quite close to the more well known Pinnawella Elephant Orphanage which was also on my itinerary, so how could I refuse a visit?
Entry costs Rs. 600 or Rs. 2000 for entry and a 15 minute elephant ride which includes scrubbing the elephant with a coconut shell in the river and the famous elephant shower (where the elephant squirts you with water from it's trunk as you sit on it's back in the river). You can also pay for longer elephant rides and these range from Rs. 3000 - 5000 for 30, 45 and 60 minutes.
I chose the 15 minute ride which was over very quickly, but it was a nice experience with the bathing and shower included.
Remember to take a change of clothing if you are doing the bathing experience and there are bathrooms where you can get changed (although they are not the best I have seen).
There is also a small museum on site which tells you about the elephants at Millennium and allows you to sponsor them and a restaurant.
The Foundation is open from 8.30am-6/7pm daily.
One of the best Botanical Gardens in Asia; well-known for its ORCHID HOUSE and Avenue of Palms, and has a rich, long history (see website below).
The gardens are open all year, 8am to 5:30pm and easily reached by bus if you don't have a vehicle.
ADMISSION FEES: (Guideline; these may change)
Adults Rs. 800.00
Children (Between 5-12 Years) Rs. 300.00
Students Rs. 300.00
Tickets are valid only on the purchasing date.
Cars are not allowed; one must walk thru the gardens, which are very extensive. There are occasionally places to sit, as well as toilet facilities.
They also mention a cafeteria, but this may be hit or miss, as last time I was there, only a small, not very hospitable counter was open with almost nothing to sell. It may have improved.......but I would definitely take drinking water as well as a small snack if you are there over lunch hours.
The lake was created in 1807 by Sri Wickrama Rajasinha, the last ruler of the kingdom of Kandy. Some of the local chiefs who protested about their people labouring on the lake were put to death on stakes in the lake bed. The central island was originally used as a harem. The British later used it as a ammunition store, adding the fortress-style parapet around it.
You can take a stroll around the lake or sit and relax on one of the lakeside seats. There are lots of good views of the lake from the hills surrounding Kandy.
Devales are temple complexes devoted to Hindu or Sri Lankan Dieties. When visiting The Temple of The Tooth Relic, you will find several of these opposite the temple.
Some are very old, like Natha Devale.
When I visited, many worshippers were at these Devales.
It is good to have a guide here, as it makes it much more interesting to understand what is practiced here.
The municipal market in Kandy is worth a visit.
Fresh produce and food stuffs are most commonly sold here. It is quite lively and you can buy without any pressure.
I did find very good vanilla pods and other spices here at a very good prices.
Colombo street in Kandy is one of the most vibrant and busy streets in the city. The street is lined with shops and street vendors, giving it a market feel.
There are some interesting old buildings, although some facades are in states of deterioration.
I did find this the most interesting street in the city.
I went to The Kandyan Art Association & Cultural Centre for an evening of Drumming and Dancing.
The programme lasts about an hour - with the climax of fire walking.
The show started at 18h00, but try to be there a bit earlier to get a good seat.
A programme of details of the dances is handed out, which makes it much more interesting and gives more understanding to what is performed.
Admission is Rs 500
You can buy tickets at the Centre during the day
More pictures on my Sri Lanka page
The Botanical Gardens are definitely worth a visit.
It is situated a bit out of town and covers a huge area. The garden is well kept, neat and clean. The gardens dates as far back as 1371.
There is an orchid house, where many can be seen in flower. Trees are clearly marked and it is also indicated what their origin is, as well as those endemic to Sri Lanka.
Don't miss the fruit bats - I have never seen something like this before.
There are large varietues of palms and ferns.
Admission is Rs 600 for foreigners, and Rs 50 for locals.
Peradeniya is on the outskirts of Kandy, on the main road to Colombo.