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Kandy was the last royal capital and is arguably one of the most picturesque cities in Sri Lanka. As it is the gateway to the Hill Country, it is famed for its gorgeous setting; emerald tea plantations and rolling mountains surround the city, while a scenic lake lies at its centre.

This laid-back city is renowned for being home to the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic (‘Sri Dalada Maligawa’). Standing proud with its golden roof and guardian elephants, this Buddhist site is believed to be the most significant shrine in the country by many, as it is said to contain one of Buddha’s teeth, collected from his funeral pyre in India in 483 BC. There is always an atmosphere here, as the temple draws thousands of pilgrims from across the world throughout the year, but there is no more exciting time to visit the spiritual Temple of the Tooth than during the Kandy Esala Perahera Festival in July or August (exact dates vary annually). If you attend this celebration, you can expect an exuberant pageant paying homage to the relic - full of brightly decorated elephants, torch-bearers, dancers and drummers with a nightly procession that lasts 10 nights.

No visit to Kandy would be complete without a wander around the impressive Perdeniya Botanical Gardens (affectionately nicknamed the ‘Kew of Kandy’), where the British pioneered the growing of exotic plants such as coffee, tea, nutmeg, rubber and cinchona (quinine). Located in Peradeniya, beside the Mahaweli Ganga, these manicured gardens stretch over 60 hectares and feature an arboretum, orchid house and huge colonies of flying foxes.

This cultural city also has a thriving market, where we guarantee you won’t be able to resist stocking up on some Sri Lankan spices to bring back home! An array of traditional artisans can also be found in and around Kandy, from ‘batik’ makers and gem craftsmen and women, to wood carvers and brass workers.

Thanks to its central location, Kandy can easily be included within a luxury holiday itinerary and visited in conjunction with many key destinations as part of a wider tour depending on your interests; whether they be exploring the tea country in Haputale, admiring the key cultural sites in Sigiriya and Anuradhapura, relaxing on the beach on the East coast or even enjoying safaris in the nearby National Parks (Yala National Park or the lesser-visited Gal Oya National Park).

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