A view of the Temple of the Tooth (Dalada Maligava), a buddhist shrine in Kandy

Things to do in  Kandy

The home of Buddha’s tooth

Kandy is a fighter. The last capital of the ancient kings of Sri Lanka was established in the 14th century. By the end of the 16th century, it was the last independent kingdom on the island, fiercely resisting the Dutch invasion that took over the rest of Sri Lanka (then Ceylon). Under British colonial rule, Kandy resisted invasion for more than a decade before succumbing in 1815. Now, the city is now best known for the Temple of the Tooth, one of the most famous sites in Sri Lanka.

Top 5 attractions in Kandy

Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic (Sri Dalada Maligawa)

Tucked into Kandy’s historical Royal Palace complex, the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic is one of Sri Lanka’s top attractions. The 18th-century Buddhist temple, part of what was once Kandy’s royal court, is revered for housing a tooth reputed to have belonged to Buddha himself, with pilgrims and tourists flocking to it as a result.More

Alagalla Mountain Range

Running west of Kandy, the Alagalla Mountain Range is located deep in Sri Lanka’s heartland. At its northern end is Alagalla Mountain, a 3,740-foot (1,140-meter) peak that draws hikers eager to stand on its summit, the potato-shaped rock that gives it the nickname Potato Mountain and commands magnificent panoramic views.More
World Buddhist Museum (International Buddhist Museum)

World Buddhist Museum (International Buddhist Museum)

Also called the International Buddhist Museum, the World Buddhist Museum in Kandy is the world’s first museum dedicated to the international story of the religion. Located within Kandy’s UNESCO-listed Temple of the Tooth complex, its exhibits chart the history, art, and practices of Buddhism worldwide, from China to Sri Lanka.More
Natha Devale

Natha Devale

One of four devales (temples) in Kandy’s Royal Palace compound, the Buddhist Natha Devale stands at the front of the royal complex. Associated with the palace’s Temple of the Tooth and believed to be Kandy’s oldest temple, this 14th-century shrine was built by King Vikramabahu III and attracts both Buddhist and Hindu followers.More
Maha Vishnu Temple (Maha Vishnu Devalaya)

Maha Vishnu Temple (Maha Vishnu Devalaya)

Located within the grounds of Kandy’s Royal Palace, the Maha Vishnu Temple (Maha Vishnu Devalaya) is one of four holy devales (temples) linked to the palace’s Temple of the Tooth. This small complex is dedicated to the Hindu god Vishnu, a Sri Lankan deity who is also considered the guardian of Buddhism, so it draws both Hindu and Buddhist pilgrims.More
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All about Kandy

When to visit

Sri Lanka is curious in that it experiences two monsoon seasons. One hits the south and west of the island in summer, while the other hits the north and east of the island in winter. As Kandy lies in the middle, it can be visited at any time, but October and November tend to be the rainiest.

Getting around

The best way to get to and from Kandy is on the iconic blue train, which winds its way through the tea plantations all the way from Ella, six hours southeast. Passengers can also pick up the train from Nuwara Eliya or Hatton (four and two hours from Kandy, respectively). In the city itself, booking a driver is most practical, but be aware that the traffic can be hellish.

Traveler tips

Don’t overlook the scenery just outside Kandy. Low-lying tea plantations, rubber plantations, and spice plantations are just some of the variety you'll see. Hikers should head to the Knuckles Mountain Range, the highest mountains in Sri Lanka, easily accessible on a day trip from Kandy. If visiting for the Esala Perahera Festival, also known as the Festival of the Tooth, book well in advance, as accommodation can fill up months in advance.


People Also Ask

What are the best things to see in Kandy?

The most famous sight is the 16th century Temple of the Tooth. It houses a casket purportedly holding a relic of Buddha's tooth. In a twice daily ceremony, the casket is paraded around the temple. Kandy also has a well-known World War II war cemetery and an excellent botanical garden.

What should I do in Kandy in one day?

Begin at the Temple of the Tooth to watch the morning ceremony, where a casket purportedly holding a relic of Buddha's tooth is paraded through the temple. Then, it’s a short hop to the botanical gardens, Peradeniya. At night, watch a Kandyan dance performance. The outfits and headpieces are opulent.

What is the Esala Perahera?

The Esala Perahera, or Festival of the Tooth, is Kandy's biggest festival. Every August, the city comes alive in color and music as Kandyans pay homage to Lord Buddha. Every terrace and rooftop become a place to sit and watch the parades of painted elephants, Kandyan dancing, and fire dancing.

What unique things are there to do in Kandy?

Sri Lanka is incredibly biodiverse, particularly in terms of birdlife. The Udawatta Kele Sanctuary, within the city itself, is a twitcher's paradise, with more than 80 different species. Kandy’s food markets are also well worth a trip (try the Central Market), and you’ll likely taste delicacies you never knew existed.

How many days should I spend in Kandy?

Plan at least two days to experience the Temple of the Tooth, see a Kandyan dance performance, and visit a nearby rubber, tea, or spice plantations. Visitors going south by train should know that the onward journey starts early in the morning, so there's no sightseeing on checkout day.

Which train goes from Kandy?

There are direct trains linking the city with Colombo, the island’s capital, but the train for which Kandy is known is the iconic blue locomotive that winds its way for six hours through tea country to reach Ella. It’s a popular route, so book tickets in advance.

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