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Kandy the Royal City (1469-1815 AD) : Gateway to Central Highlands of Sri Lanka (A World Heritage Site)

Kandy in a sweet nutshell geared to fast food mode

Kandy, then called Senkadagalapura, had been the Medieval Royal City of Sri Lanka during the period of 1469-1815 AD. In the year 1988, the sacred city of Kandy was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO organization. Today, the lovely city, also called Maha Nuwara (Great City) is officially designated as the "Cultural Capital of Sri Lanka" in spite of the undying glories of the ancient cities of Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa. Kandy, day-in and day-out with an aroma of medieval history in the air, is also home to numerous Buddhist temples that proudly showcase Medieval Kandyan Architecture and Art, including the holiest temple of the world of Theravada Buddhism, Holy "Dalada Maligawa"..Temple of the Tooth Relic. The temple houses the palladium of Sinhalese Buddhist nation, "the sacred tooth relic of Buddha".

Kandy, home to the one and only decorative lake of Sri Lanka, complete with a motorable road and walker's pavement surrounding it and topped with an island in the middle to the boot, that too in the very heart of the city, built in 1807 by the torch bearers of ancient reservoir engineers of Sri Lanka, as Sir William Gregory, the Governor General of Ceylon (1872-1877) put it "the loveliest town in the loveliest island in the world." Kandy, located 116km west of Colombo, at an altitude of 500 meters, a city of mountainous terrain, greenery and Mediterranean climate is also the gateway to the Central Highlands of Sri Lanka that rises to 1800 meters at the valley of Little England Nuwara Eliya, the British colonial sanitarium of salubrious climate.

Kandy, the once impregnable natural fortress secured by rings of mountains and River Mahaweli, today is accessible by main road from Colombo, a triumph of military engineering by Major Thomas Skinner (1804-1877) and Captain E. F. Dawson of Royal engineers in the year 1821. That was during the enterprising governorship (1824-1831) of British Colonialist General Sir Edward Barnes in Ceylon. Barnes narrated with immense relief, that with the opening of the road to Kandy, a first-class macadamized road, 'one of the great military barriers on which Kandyans greatly relied was broken.'

Kandy, the cockpit of Sri Lanka in the seventeenth & eighteenth centuries till the capitulation, can also be ascended by British Colonial Railway line (originally built in stages to transport Ceylon Coffee and then Ceylon Tea), Colombo to Kandy (1867), Nawalapitiya (1874), Nanu-Oya close to Nuwara Eliya (1885),  Bandarawela (1894) and Badulla (1924). Today, the city of many splendors that can be reached by domestic air passage too, in the backdrop of its central geographical location has become a major road transportation hub of Sri Lanka.


Arrival

We travel from Colombo,  capital of the island to west, to the interior of the country to reach Kandy, the gateway to the Central Highlands..

Green hills surrounding the city

Situated amidst rings of precipitous green hills at the heart of the island, Kandy is the proud & last bastion of an independent Sinhalese tradition which preserved its freedom through two & half centuries of assaults by Portuguese & Dutch.

 

 

 

The town

The town centre, close to Kandy picturesque lake set in a bowl of hills, is a delightful jumble of old shops, antique & gemstone shops, a bustling market & fine selection of hotels, guesthouses & restaurants.

Aristocratic air

Kandy is also home to the country's most important religious shrine, the Sacred Temple of the Tooth. Still more it is home to the most exuberant religious festival in Asia, the Kandy Esala Perahera pageant in July. The city enhanced by its scenic highland setting is looped by River Mahaweli. The atmosphere & pleasantly temperate climate coupled with distinctive cultural heritage apparent-in its music, dance & architecture bring about an aristocratic air to the city.






The Transportation hub in the centre of the island

Kandy is not only the centre of culture but also the transportation hub to all four directions of the island. To the north is ancient kingdom Anuradhapura & Polonnaruwa, , to the south is central highlands - Nuwara Eliya, Horton Plains National Park,  to east is Mahiyangana (modern irrigation site, cultural attraction), Badulla (tea plantations, cultural attractions), Monargala, Gal Oya National Park (wild elephants) and Batticaloa & Arugam Bay  (beach & surf of international standing)

The beautiful countryside around Kandy is home to a wealth of varied attractions. Most visitors head straight for the world famous Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage & the beautiful Peradeniya Royal Botanical Gardens, while the region's cultural legacy can be traced in the various beautiful temples, dating from the heyday of the Kandyan kingdom, which dot the countryside.



Knuckles Range

If you really want to get away from all the king's culture & king's men, there there is wilderness. The rugged Knuckles Range (within the Central Massif), just east of Kandy, is the hill country's last great wilderness area & a wonderful location for trekking, cycling & bird spotting. The highest peak in the Knuckles Range (KR) is 1904 m. In certain parts of Knuckles Range, within the Knuckles Conservation Forest, the natural vegetation occurs as a pygmy forest with trees just over waist high.

Knuckles Range (KR) was recommended for the tentative listing of World Heritage Sites (WHS) to United Nations Educational, Scientific & Cultural Organization (UNESCO) by the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources of Sri Lanka on 20th March 2006.



Victoria Golf Club, Kandy, Sri Lanka

Year round golf in a cool, sunny climate 1500 ft above sea level

"Some golf courses have a splendid undulating terrain over which the holes are routed. Some golf courses have a scenic backdrop of hills & lakes which excite the senses. However, the Victoria Golf Course is blessed with both attributes." Donald Steel

Victoria Golf Club is 40m drive from Kandy via Kundasale, Digana & Teldeniya. The 18-hole championship golf course set in a 517-acre site by the Victoria reservoir was designed to USPGA specification by golf architect Donald Steel. Stately trees & avenues of coconut palms lend the course an air of maturity although it was established only in 1999. Impressive natural outcrops of rocks are a distinctive feature as well as a hazard of the course. The club house consists of changing rooms, showers, food service & golf shop

At the same location there are bird watching and nature trails, bike riding, horse riding, canoeing & croquet.
 
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