I wasn’t sure what to expect in Kandy. It is one of the largest cities in Sri Lanka, but Sri Lanka so far hasn’t been typical at all so I didn’t know what a large city in Sri Lanka would be. I knew it wouldn’t be filled with McDonald’s, Starbucks and other American chains so that is a good start (There was a few KFC’s and a Dominos Pizza in the city).
While Kandy doesn’t have the large skyscrapers I expect when I hear big city, it does have very heavy traffic but it is tuk-tuk’s and mopeds instead of large SUV’s and semi’s like we experience in the U.S.. So as far as a large city, Kandy doesn’t really fit the typical bill.
We visited Kandy during the Sri Lanka New Years. At first we were told that everything just closed for the day but by the time New Years day came the country closes for 3 days. This made touring the city a bit complicated but we made the most out of it and even enjoyed some downtime and Netflix binging.
Our first day we visited the Botanical Gardens. Supposedly they are one of the most beautiful in the world. I was skeptical thinking this is pretty tall order considering some of the botanical gardens I have seen around the world. However, just like everything else about Sri Lanka, it completely surprised me and turned out to be one of the most beautiful gardens we have ever visited.
It is absolutely massive, and all outdoors, with the exception of the orchid area. The trees are so large, and full of vines, and hanging roots it feels like being in a fairy tale. There is an entire walkway lined with giant bamboo and large leaning pine trees that seem to bend only under the weight of the clouds in the sky.
Of course the monkeys, the huge fruit bats, and beautiful birds made the gardens more enchanting and interesting. When we made it to the orchid area I was completely blown away but some of the species I have never seen before (I am an orchid nut so I have seen a lot of orchids in the world!).
The next day we headed off to the Temple of the Tooth, winding our way through the noisy and chaotic traffic of tuk-tuk’s and scooters. It is situated on the Kandy Lake, which is a really beautiful sight to see in itself. J couldn’t visit the temple because he had shorts on and didn’t want to buy more pants or sarongs after Thailand and our visit to the Grand Palace. Plus he didn’t care much about seeing a temple that houses a tooth from Buddha, so it was a good excuse…
Inside the temple is the tooth of Buddha which was pulled from the ashes of his cremated body. They don’t allow you to see the tooth except on certain occasions so basically you are going to look at the temple, and to pray or worship. In all honesty I found the temple to be underwhelming compared to other temples in Sri Lanka. There is a building built around the original temple which takes away from the beautiful architecture of the temple. I wanted to visit the rest of the museums located on the same grounds but was unable to during our stay because of the New Year’s holiday.
We enjoyed the amazing boutique hotel where we stayed in Kandy and the people there but were a bit underwhelmed with the city itself. I would still recommend going to see the botanical gardens, the lake and the museums and Temple of the Tooth. They are worth seeing and Kandy is a great mid-point in the country to stay for a few days while you are traveling to other towns in the country.