Although Kandy is one of the biggest cities in Sri Lanka, there is so much more for you to explore around the area of Kandy that will make your trip a memorable one. Whether you want to chase waterfalls, explore the cultural heritage of the beautiful island of Sri Lanka, or be mesmerized by the beauty of the natural landscape, spots around Kandy have it all. Here are our top 10 places to visit when you are in Kandy, Sri Lanka.
Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic
This temple also known as the Sri Dalada Maligawa, is a Buddhist temple located in the royal palace complex of the former kingdom of Kandy. This temple is the home to the left canine tooth of the Lord Buddha and is, therefore, a renowned place of worship venerated by thousands of local and foreign devotees. The Sri Dalada Maligawa was named as a world heritage by UNESCO in 1988 and holds an important place in the country’s cultural and religious history. This temple is also known for its architecture as it is a combination of a unique Kandyan architectural style and the style that was used to build the shrines which housed the Sacred Tooth Relic previously. This temple is decorated with intricate carvings using gold, silver, bronze and ivory. This significant temple continues to play a vital role in Sri Lankan culture and if you are interested in discovering more about the rich history of this nation, the Sri Dalada Maligawa should definitely be on top of your list.
The natural beauty of Sri Lanka can be witnessed in many ways, and one such way is experiencing the many natural waterfalls this island has to offer. The Lakshapana falls is located roughly 2 hours away from Kandy city and is 125 meters high. It is deemed as the 8th highest waterfall in Sri Lanka. One of the best aspects of Lakshapana Falls is the experience of the journey to the waterfall itself. There are two directions to the waterfall. The first leads you to the top of the fall which is about a 100m walk from the main road. However, we highly recommend the second route which takes you to the bottom of the fall. This is a bit of a hike, especially the climb up, but we promise it’s worth it. There are cement steps that lead to the bottom, with a total of around 2000 steps, the journey can get tiring. But once you get to the bottom of the fall, you will arrive at a natural, cooling and secluded pool created by the waterfall. The view, the scenery and the natural pool provide for a surreal experience.
Aluviharaya Rock cave temple
The Aluviharaya Rock Temple is a sacred Buddhist temple located in the Matale District, situated 30km north of Kandy. This rock-cave temple is where Buddhist monks wrote the Tripitakas (Sacred canon of Theravada Buddhism) and this temple is considered to be the birthplace of the Tripitaka, placing utmost religious and cultural significance on this temple. The cave temple has many statues of Buddha, murals and period paintings covering the cave ceilings. Aluvihara is a term derived from Pali which literally means ‘luminous cave’. This location received this name as the cave temple received the morning rays of sunrise. However, the belief that the Tripitaka brought doctrinal illumination to mankind indicates the aptness of the name of this sacred temple. If you are interested in exploring an unconventional temple that has great religious significance, the Aluviharaya Rock temple is a great spot to visit.
Taylor’s seat and Kondagala hike
Taylor’s seat is situated in Loolecondera Estate in the Kandy district of Sri Lanka. The Loolecondera Estate is a must-visit if you are interested in tea or finding out more about how Ceylon tea came to be because this is where it all started. This estate was the first place where a patch of tea was planted back in 1867 after an unsuccessful attempt at building a coffee plantation. James Taylor was the first person to be in charge of the estate and therefore many significant spots in the Estate are named after him. Taylor’s seat is a rock seat that will provide you with an awe-striking view of the surrounding mountain ranges and the estate below. The 19 acres of tea estate is a wonderful place to take a leisurely stroll in and there are private tours available that highlight the historic tea industry, provide information about James Taylor by visiting his former residence and of course visiting a tea factory that is still in operation today to get an in-depth look at Sri Lanka’s tea industry.
This spot is quite different to those we have suggested previously as this is a small village with a population of only around 400 people. It is located on the border of Kandy close to the Knuckles Mountain Range. This beautiful village is quite tricky to reach as the trail is 33km long, but the view on the way is breathtaking. The Meemure village is rich in biodiversity and has been identified to have 8 endemic freshwater fish, 20 endangered bird species and 12 endemic amphibians. The village is located in an extremely picturesque spot as east of the village is the Lakegala Mountain and to the west is the awe-striking Knuckles range. If you are interested in slowing down the pace of your stay and experiencing something that is way out of your comfort zone, a stay at Meemure will do the trick as this village has only one tiny shop and does not have a mobile network signal. But this is all a part of the experience, isn’t it?
There are a few temples that have made this list already, but the Ambuluwewa hill temple is truly unique because it is a shrine to all major religions in the country. Yes, this large winding tower is a Trigonometrical station that consists of a Buddhist Stupa, a Hindu Kovil, a Muslim mosque and a Christian Church. This tower has also become increasingly popular because of the hike to the top of the tower as it offers a 360-degree view of the surrounding mountains, forests, rivers and towns which as you can imagine is too beautiful to capture in words. The tower stands at a height of approximately 48 meters and because of the narrowness of the tower, people who have a fear of heights, children and the elderly are not recommended to climb to the top of it.
Chariot Path is located near a tea estate and is a grassland on the top of a mountain range that is surrounded by a pigmy forest. Apart from its remarkable beauty and breathtaking view, the Chariot path is believed to be the route by which King Ravana transported Sita Devi on his chariot to show her the beauty of his kingdom, marking this an important Ramayana site in Sri Lanka. The flowers that can be seen in this area are termed as Sita flowers by locals as they have a peculiar stamen and pistil which resemble a human figure carrying a bow, which is said to represent Rama. Additionally, if you are interested in long and challenging treks as well as camping, this is definitely an ideal location for you. However be warned, that the trek is not easy by any means, therefore it may not be suitable for children, the elderly and those who have health concerns or respiratory illnesses. But, if you are able to go camping at this spot, we would strongly encourage it as it would be an extremely calming and relaxing experience. Make sure to take the necessary camping and trekking equipment that would be able to endure wind and rain and have a great stay!
Mandaram Nuwara is a small village situated at the foot of Pidurutalagala, the tallest mountain in Sri Lanka. It is fondly referred to as the ‘misty city’ because of the close proximity to the mountain ranges leading to a cloud of mist for the majority of the day. There are numerous waterfalls that are located near this village such as the Elamulla Ella, Kabara-gala Ella, Digala-hinna Ella, Kalu Palam Ella and Kolapathana Ella. As these falls are not tourist attractions, your experience will be very different to your visit to Lakshapana falls. Your visit to Mandaram Nuwara as a whole will be a very different and unique cultural experience as it is an idyllic place away from the bustle that we are all too familiar with.
This is yet another beautiful waterfall that Sri Lanka has to offer and this is located near the border of Nuwara Eliya and Badulla district. The hike to the top of the waterfall is about 1.5km and the height of the fall is 50 meters high. It is the widest waterfall in Sri Lanka and consists of many smaller waterfalls grouped together. A fun fact about Bomburu Ella falls is that the water is diverted to a powerhouse located in the area and it is utilized for cultivation purposes. Along the track to the top of Bomburu Ella falls you will come across Sita Eliya Kandapola Forest Reserve. A leisurely walk through this wilderness will provide you with surreal sights of neighboring waterfalls. So if you would like to go on a picnic or a waterfall bath, this might be a great location to rest and unwind.
Ella Nine Arches Bridge
This location is one of the most iconic spots in Sri Lanka. The nine arch bridge, also known as the ‘bridge in the sky’ is a great example of railway construction during the colonial era. The construction of this bridge is attributed to P.K. Appuhami who constructed this by connecting two bog mountains for a railway. This brilliant construction speaks volumes of the engineering and architectural skills that existed in the 1920s. The bridge is 300 feet in length and is 80-100 feet in height. This bridge is also located in an absolutely beautiful location as it is amidst a dense jungle and above a tea plantation. This allows you to witness natural beauty alongside this manmade masterpiece. If you are interested in getting that perfect Instagram capture, this spot will provide you with plenty of those shots.
Staying in Kandy is guaranteed to provide you with an amazing experience. Santani Resort and Spa will definitely enrich this experience as it will be your home away from home.