KANDY – the hill capital is another “World Heritage Site”. It was the last stronghold of the Sinhalese Kings during the Portuguese, Dutch and British rule and finally ceded to the British in 1815 after an agreement. To the Buddhists of Sri Lanka and the World, Kandy is one of the most sacred sites as it is the home of the “Dalada Maligawa” – Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic of Lord Buddha. Close by are the remains of the Royal Palace (“Maha Wasala”), “Palle Wasala”- where the Queens stayed-now used for the National Museum, “Meda Wasala” where other close relatives lived, Audience Hall, Natha Devala and Vishnu Devala are situated close by. The Bathing Pavilion (“Ulpenge”) is by the Lake and in the Center of the lake is the Island called “Kiri samudraya” (Milk white ocean) used by the kings as the summerhouse. Today it is the center of Buddhism, Arts, Crafts, Dancing, Music and Culture. Visitors can see these Dance & Music at the daily Cultural Performances held at several places in the city.
Royal Botanical Gardens – Peradeniya – 147 acres in extent; Started in 1374 as a pleasure garden of the Kings of Gampola and Kandy. There are more than 5,000 species of trees, plants and creepers. Some rare and endemic as well as flora from the tropical world are found in the gardens. Spice Garden and Orchid House are popular with tourists. There are 5 Palm Avenues beautifying the gardens, the earliest and tallest Palm Avenue (Royal Palm Avenue) was planted in 1905 and the Double Coconuts from the Seashells Island, with the largest seed of all plants in the world is one such avenue.
Kandy Esala Perahera – The Kandy Esala Perahera is an annual event that is held in the mid-summer nights during the months of July / August every year for 10 days ending with the day perahera with the Water-cutting ceremony held at Getembe near Peradeniya on the last day. This gorgeous cultural pageant has history, religion and a nation’s culture mingled in it. This traditional rehearsal of Kandy’s past glory carries a spiritual message too and it also shows the harmonious blending of Buddhism and Hinduism. For a long time a traditional procession was held in honour of the four Hindu Gods, Natha, Vishnu, Skanda and Pattini and during the reign of King Kirti Sri Rajasinghe. The Procession of the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic was also added and prominence was given to it by leading the Devala processions.
This colourful Kandy Perahera consists of a “Kap” Planting Ceremony (planting the holy stick), followed by 5 days of Kumbal Perahera increasing the splendor by changing the distance and routes, increasing the number of Dancers, Drummers, Elephants everyday and succeeded by the Randoli Perahera which will increase its splendor daily and on the last 3 day more than 100 elephants will take part in the procession. On the last day the Perahera will be held during the Day ending up with the visit to Getembe near Peradeniya where Water Cutting Ceremony will take place.
The chiefs in silver and gold ceremonial dress with world famed Kandyan dancers and drummers are notable attractions. However, the highlight of the procession is the richly caparisoned Maligawa Tusker. During the perahera set against the background of a starry tropic night, the ancient city of Kandy echoes and re-echoes, as it certainly did centuries ago, to the tunes of massed drums and flutes, the cracking of whips and the clang of elephants’ bells while the solemn cheers of worship from the enthusiastic spectators are enchanting indeed.
The Kumbal Perahera – For the first five nights, this possession is known as Kumbal Perahera; it shows only a shadow of its climactic splendor.
The Randoli Perahera – But on the sixth night, the Randoli Perahera begins. The randolis (“golden palanquins”), which bear the deities’ consorts, join the devala ranks, each bore immediately behind the elephants carrying the emblems, which represent the respective deities. The circuits gradually increase in length and the trappings in grandeur, until after five nights of the Randoli; the Perahera reaches its magnificent and colourful best. This climactic Randoli Perahera may include 100 or more elephants, ranging from majestic bulls to half grown calves.