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Cultural capital of Sri Lanka: Kandy

The city of Kandy is geographically located in the center of Sri Lanka and is surrounded by hills on all sides. Kandy is pretty much the link between the hill country and the beach towns around this island country.  Kandy is also considered as the cultural capital of Sri Lanka.

To reach Kandy, travellers have three options. The first is to take the train which is the most economical, scenic and also the slowest way to reach. The second option is to take the government bus which is the most value for money way of reaching the city.  The last option is to hire a taxi, which is the fastest and also the costliest way of getting to Kandy.

Once in Kandy, the best way to get round is to hire a local tuktuk or rent a bike. Everything in the city is uphill and downhill. So if you’re not staying close to the city centre, you’ll definitely need to do a lot of uphill walking to get around this city.  

A few of the must-visit places while in Kandy include the famous temple of the tooth, which houses a tooth relic of Lord Buddha, and is consequently considered one of Sri Lanka’s most holy shrines. The temple is open from dawn to dusk and an entry fee of LKR 1500 is charged to foreigners.

Just adjacent to the temple of the tooth is Bogambara lake which is a great place to just walk around or sit in peace admiring the calmness in the air. The lake is a perfect place to go for a morning walk, if you want to start your day with some activity.  

The Pinnewala Elephant Orphanage has about 70 semi-tame elephants roaming freely around this wonderful sanctuary which is around a two hour drive from the city. It is not really worth the hype that has been created around the place.  When you go there, you’ll sense the entire thing to be a gimmick meant to attract tourist. The entrance fee is around LKR 2500 per person and add to that transportation which is around another LKR 4000 for a round trip.

Bahirawakanda temple has the omnipresent white Buddha statue seen from everywhere in Kandy city. Take a tuktuk ride to the temple or walk just one km away from Kandy city. You’ll get a fantastic view of the entire city of Kandy. With an entry fee of LKR 250, this is one place which is worth the visit just for the view from the top.  

Kandy is a hustle and bustle city which is crowded and kind of chaotic at first impression. It’s the kind of place which will grow on you.  If you move away from the bus stop and train station, you’ll find the Dutch architecture very fancy and interesting.

It’s a pleasant walk to explore the downtown area which has plenty of eateries and cafes. This is the area where all the old school buildings and restaurants are located. This side of Kandy is worth exploring on foot which is the best way to get around the tiny lanes.  

Eating options are practically unlimited from street food to fine dine and happening pubs. This city has everything you want including food options. If you’re a food blogger, you can easily spend three days just exploring the eating options. A must visit is the Muslim restaurant which is located near the four way junction. Kaboos is a must try and the biryani as well.

While planning your stay options, keep in mind that Kandy is an uphill city with a lot of slopes and hence it’s better to find something close to the town centre. This will save a lot of time and money (hiring a tuktuk). If you’re on a budget, then the best thing to do is to book a bed in one of the numerous hostels which are located downtown.

Kandy has plenty of banks, ATMs and excellent 4G connectivity. The days tend to be hot as the rest of Sri Lanka but nights kind of get cool and breezy with the hill country climate. Taking a walk around the lake is a must-do night activity while in Kandy.

Kandy is the kind of place which will grow on you. You might not like it at first glance, but give it 24 hours and you’ll start to like the vibe of the city.  It’s the kind of place which is meant for those who like culture and heritage.

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