The city of Kandy lies at an altitude of 488.6 meters (1629 feet) above sea level in the center of the island and surrounded by the ranges of mountains. It is still very much a focal point of Sri Lankan culture. It was the capitol of last generation of Sri Lanka`s kings until it fell in to the hands of British in 1815.
Kandy was originally known as Senkadagala pura after a hermit named Senkada who lived there. Many of Sinhalese people call it as Mahanuwarameaning the Great City. But the name Kandy was derived from the Word Kanda, which means mountain. Due to it’s geographical location Kandy was not an easy target for the foreign invaders who could gain the control of coastal area of the island.
Thus Kandyan culture was abler to foster and maintain its own social structure, mode of living, Art & Architecture. The kings of Kandy ensured the safety and sovereignty of the hill capitol and it’s great culture until the British finally captured the city in 1815.
The royal palace in Senkadagala was built by King Vikramabahu the 3rd of Gampola on the advice of a Brahmin who selected the site as a lucky ground for a Capital city. The first king to ascended the throne of Senkadagala was Sena Sammata Wickramabahu
Kandy, the second largest city in Sri Lanka lies 2hrs30 mins north east of the capital Colombo. While not as polluted and hectic as Columbo, Kandy is still a bustling hilltop city, albeit with a small town feel. A large lake dominates the centre of the city with Sri Lanka’s famous Temple
There are good places to stay and Kandy makes a great base for exploring the hill country. If you are looking for comparative luxury Helga’s Folly ($100 per night) makes a more than pleasant retreat for those looking to escape the guest-house trail..
Nestled in the hills overlooking the lake and tucked away from the noisy temple, this eccentric, laid back hotel offers western comfort, with an eastern flavour and a 30s style ambient cocktail lounge complete with gramophone. The walls are also heavily adorned with pictures of famous characters and fashion icons from the 30s to present. If budgets won’t streatch to $100 pn this area of town offers many cheap alternatives with superb traditonal Sri Lankan food.
It’s pleasant enough, but Kandy doesn’t have a great deal to offer and a couple of days should keep most people happy, and those who have ventured this far must be looking for more. From Kandy, you can easily reach many areas of interest, such as Ella, Nuwara Eliya, Sigiriya, Badulla and more.
Ella is a long and winding 5 hour cab drive from Kandy. Leave at around 7am and catch the misty rice fields at the start of your journey. As you rise through the mountains, the terrain changes to steep carpets of tea. You’ll stop at a tea factory to learn how tea is produced and be offered a refreshing brew before you set off for the half-way marker town of Nuwara Eliya. Upon arrival at Ella it appears to be more than a small strip of ramshackle huts and craft shops but when you reach the end of the road, the view more than makes up for it. From here there are plenty of fantastic walks around tea plantations, lakes, waterfalls and rice fields.