The sacred city of Kandy was the last royal capital of Sri
Lanka. It has a cooler climate than the coastal lowlands, and is
the cultural capital of the island. With its hills and lake, it is
also probably Sri Lanka's most beautiful town.
The focal point of the town is the golden-roofed Dalada
Maligawa, or Temple of the Tooth, where the sacred tooth relic of
the Buddha is enshrined. The Esala Perahera festival, held in July
and August each year, is the highlight of the calendar. There are
numerous other shrines and temples in and around Kandy, and just
outside town the Peradeniya Botanical Gardens, with 60 beautiful
hectares of trees, plants and flowers are well worth a visit.
In central Sri Lanka, just 3 hours from Colombo by car, lies the
Bogawantalawa Valley, known as the Golden Valley of Tea and home to
old Ceylon, rolling green hills, plantation bungalows, and high
Back in the tropical lowlands to the north of Kandy lie several
of Sri Lanka's finest cultural attractions. The cave temples of
Dambulla house ancient frescoes and a huge reclining figure of the
Buddha, carved out of the rock. From Dambulla, the extraordinary
site of Sigiriya - a massive rock fortress, and arguably the
highlight of any tour - is easily reached.
Finally, tour the ancient cities of Polonnaruwa and
Anuradhapura. These once great (and still tongue-twisting) cities
have been reclaimed from the jungle by archaeologists, and are
fascinating to wander around on foot or by bicycle. Polonnaruwa was
a medieval capital, while Anuradhapura was once the greatest
monastic city of the ancient world.