Kandy, with its salubrious hills and verdant landscape has a mesmerizing effect to the multitudes who flock to the city from all parts of the world. The last kingdom of the island remained a strong citadel for centuries, nestled amid natural fauna and flora which made it impenetrable until its very own led the colonial rulers to it. Similar to hidden treasures discovered by the ancient conquerors was the discovery of this city by the British in 1815. Prior to it, Kandy had withstood the many efforts to conquer it by the South Indians, Portuguese and Dutch invaders, enjoying relative autonomy for centuries. Kandy is associated with royalty and has a regal bearing with its unique sense of style and way of life which the people of Kandy consider sacrosanct.
Apart from its glorious association with royalty, Kandy holds sway as the most preferred city to live in due to its higher elevation which makes the air much- cooler with almost every turn offering a picturesque sight. From the highly romanticized Hantane range to the tea plantations, Udawattakele and the Mahaweli skirting around it. It is also home to one of Sri Lanka’s oldest and most revered universities – the Peradeniya campus, centrally located amid the Peradeniya Botanical Garden.
Kandy is considered a muse for many writers and poets, who have been drawn to her beauty which has not faded despite the many developments which have taken place during the recent past. The UNESCO World Heritage city is home to many prestigious schools such as Trinity College, Kingswood, Dharmaraja, Girls High School, Good Shepherd, Hillwood, international schools of a higher caliber – Gateway, CIS and a number of reputed higher education institutes with affiliations to internationally recognized universities, inclusive of all facilities from convenient stores, hospitals, places of worship and more makes it the ideal place to bring up one’s family. With reference to worship; Kandy’s famous Temple of the Tooth Relic, is revered by Buddhist across the globe who pay homage to the sacred site. A cross section of believers from the main religions of the land live harmoniously with places of worship being located close to each other. It also a preferred location for international sporting events with the Asgiriya Cricket Stadium, Nittawala and Pallakele Rugby Stadiums. Kandy is also the birth place of many legendary countrymen such as Gen. Denzel Kobbekaduwa, Lakshman Kadiragama, Cricketing great Kumar Sangakkara, celebrated ruggerites Viper (Sr & Jr) Gunaratne, Y.C.Chang, Political family of the Ratwatte’s among a host of those who have illuminated Sri Lanka on the world map.
With its natural and man-made attractions, cultural and historical significance, Kandy is considered the most visited city by tourists from all parts of the world. Some of the main tourist sites include the serene Kandy Lake which was built by the last monarch of the kingdom, the War Cemetery – a miniature version of the Arlington Cemetery in Washington D.C., Tea Museum, Trinity College Chapel, St.Paul’s Cathedral, Spice Gardens and Arthur’s Seat offering a panoramic view of the city in all its splendour and more. With ample recreation activities such as jet skiing on the Mahaweli, languid canoe rides on the Kandy Lake, Bird watching, hiking, mountain climbing, mountain biking and boat rides, one is certain not to experience even an iota of boredom.
From the luxurious star class hotels, to quaint yet classy boutique hotels, Kandy offers tourists and local visitors an array of options to choose from which includes comfort, affordability and safety. It is also a central hub with buses, trains and private coaches connecting people to and from all parts of the country. The construction of the Colombo- Kandy highway is underway and due to be completed in the ensuing months, making it easily accessible to those who prefer to avoid the traffic congestion which occurs during the holiday seasons.
The magnetism that draws people to Kandy is almost tangible as it offers an endless discovery of treasures within its folds – surmise it to say, there is never a dull moment as it is a treasure trove for nature lovers and those who wish to simply relish the beauty of it and immerse themselves in the slow pace of life which is seen in the interior areas which can be visited within minutes as Kandy per se is vast but accessibility is possible to every nook and cranny. While many consider Kandy, an ideal city to raise a family, it is also the adoptive land to many foreigners young and old who prefer the grandeur of the ancient kingdom.
The writer herself is ardent lover of Kandy, whose ancestors hailed from the magnificent city offering a wealth of experiences and heartfelt moments… A city one could easily fall in love with…
By Rochelle Palipane Gunaratne