Sits comfortably and securely in a bowl surrounded by the knuckles and Hunus Mountain ranges with evocative names such as Bible rock, Lion rock and Camel Hill. This isolation allowed Sinhalese monarchs to flourish until 1815 long after their influence had waned elsewhere. Its beauty, agreeable climate and air of tranquility has encouraged its development as the true religious, cultural and educational heart of Sri Lanka. For the best mountain views and just 10 minutes from town, stay within a colonial home at Stoney House Lodge.
The central man-made lake invites you to take a shady stroll around its perimeter stopping at the Temple of the Tooth- housing Sri Lanka’s most important religious relic, the sacred tooth of Buddha-,the museum next door, and the Kandyan Arts and crafts center to buy or admire and perhaps linger over a delicious lunch whilst admiring the delightful architectural style.
Enjoy also an evening of entertainment at the Kandyan Arts and Cultural Centre. The show features the graceful and rhythmic dancers and drummers and culminates in impressive fire walking. Be warned the heat is intense - you may not wish to sit at the front. To be able to stroll back for a nightcap and a night of Frank Sinatra, stay at the esoteric yet luxurious The Secret Kandy House
Kandy truly comes alive in late July/August for Esala Perahera, a 10 day festival and one of the most spectacular in all Asia. Beware- hotel rooms are in short supply and some inflate their prices for this period.
The Mahaweli River, Sri Lanka’s longest, is home to many gem mines. The workers together with wonderful views of the valley can be seen at breakfast or candlelit dinner from the delightful Villa Rosa. The river meanders to enclose the Peradiniya Botanical Gardens, a walker’s and gardener’s paradise. Admire the huge Jarvan fig tree and Orchid House, note the flying foxes hanging along the Avenue of Royal Palms, hire a bicycle, take a picnic and take time to “smell the flowers”.
By now you may be in need of a pick-me-up, either physical or spiritual. Pamper yourself and be rejuvenated at one of the Ayurvedic centres (from $8-20) or release mental worldly tensions by visiting one of the Buddhist meditation centers, which would appreciate an appropriate donation for their ‘free’ course of study.
Your visit to Kandy may coincide with a date auspicious in the Buddhist calendar. You will then be treated to the colourful pageant of wedding processions, all the families and guest dressed in their finest. You may wish to reminisce or admire, but many of the hotels can also arrange a personal ceremony within their grounds.
At Kegalle, just about an hours drive away on the Colombo Road is the Pinnewala Elephant Orphanage. This houses about 60 young abandoned or orphaned elephants who are trained for work but enjoy the passage around the sanctuary meanwhile. Like any nursery there is a fairly strict bathing and feeding routine. The nearby Millennium Elephant Foundation and Uda Walawe Park are slightly more natural venues.
Swimming is available in several venues- mostly with stunning settings and views of Victoria Dam. Towels are included in the cost. Or you may enjoy a round at Victoria Golf Club which deserves its superior reputation. It’s a challenging course, but if your golf lets you down the views and the lunch won’t.