-Our Correspondent back from Sri Lanka
Kandy : The UNESCO World Heritage listed "Sacred City of Kandy," 100km north east of Colombo, is located 488 meters above sea level. Established in the 14th century, Kandy became the nation's capital in the 16th century.
One of the many scenic cities of Sri Lanka, it is now the capital of the Central Province. The city, renowned for its culture and scenic beauty, is a major tourist destination.
The city is the home of Temple of the Tooth Relic (Sri Dalada Maligawa), one of the most venerated places for the Buddhist community of Sri Lanka and the world. It was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1988.
The world-famous Kandy Perahera (Esala Perahera), a cultural pageant venerating the Tooth Relic of the Lord Buddha, is well-known across the world. It is a spectacular parade which goes on for ten nights in the month of August and features up to a hundred colourfully adorned elephants, highly skilled acrobatic Kandyan dancers and traditional drummers.
Historical records suggest that Kandy was first established by the Vikramabahu III (1357-1374 CE), who was the monarch of the Kingdom of Gampola, near the Watapuluwa area, north of the present city.
The city stayed independent until the early 19th century. The last ruling dynasty of Kandy was the Nayaks. In 1944, during World War II, the South East Asia Command of the allies was moved to Kandy, where it remained till the end of the war.
Kandy has now grown out to encompass Peradeniya, home to the University of Peradeniya and the Botanical Gardens, Katugastota to the north, and east to Kundasale, Tennekumbura and Gurudeniya.
The city has relatively wetter and cooler temperatures than that of the tropical climate of the rest of the country, especially the coastal regions.
The Royal Botanical Garden, Peradeniya, which dates back to the 14th century, is situated about 5 km to the west of the city centre at Peradeniya and is visited by 1.2 million people per year. It is the largest botanical garden on the island.
Kandy remains an important religious centre of the Sinhalese and a place of pilgrimage for Buddhists, namely those belonging to the Theravada school.
Kandy is second only to Colombo as the center of the Sri Lankan economy. Many major corporations have large branch offices in Kandy and many industries include stones, jewellery, textiles, furniture, information technology are based there.
Famous international brand outlets such as Apple Inc. Futureworld, Philips, Reebok, Triumph International, Adidas as well as famous Asian and Sri Lankan brand shops are located at Kandy City Cente.
Your shopping bags won't return empty as there are traditional handicrafts or antiques or Batiks to fill them up.
For tourists, Kandy offers a good range of accommodation options from budget to luxury ones, one of the best being Mahaweli Reach Hotel on the banks of the Mahaweli river. Besides enjoying lunch by the side of the river, the hotel authorities will be glad to arrange outings by boat.
Kandy is synonymous with arts and crafts of Sri Lanka as it is where all elite who patronised these crafts survived during 300 years of war with the Europeans. Kandy is probably the best place to buy most of the handicrafts produced in Sri Lanka because there are number of shops catering to the tourists.
Every year, during the month of August, the Kandy Perahera is organised, which offers a true glimpse into the ancient traditions of the city, with colourful processions, masquerades, elephant parades and much more.
When you visit Sri Lanka, be sure to visit Kandy, if possible during the Kandy Perahera.