Kandy Kandy served as the capital of the last Sinhalese kingdom, which fell to the British in 1815 after defying the Portuguese and Dutch for three centuries. It took the British another 16 tough years to finally build a road linking Kandy with Colombo. The locals still proudly see themselves as a little different and perhaps a tad superior to Sri Lankans from the island’s lower reaches. Kandy is renowned for the great Kandy Esala Perahera, held over 10 days leading up to the Nikini poya (full moon) at the end of the month of Esala (July/August), but it has enough attractions to justify a visit at any time of year. Some of the Hill Country’s nicest boutique hotels nestle in the hills surrounding Kandy, and the city is a good base for exploring the underrated terrain of the nearby Knuckles Range. Kandy Dalada Maligawa (Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic) Dalada-Maligawa-3Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic Sri Lanka’s most important Buddhist relic a tooth of the Buddha. The temple was damaged when a bomb was detonated by the LTTE terrorists near the main entrance in 1998. The scars have been now repaired, but security remains high and there is significant screening of all visitors. The shrine receives many worshipers and tourists, with fewer tourists in the morning. Wear clothes that cover your legs and your shoulders, and remove your shoes. During puja , the heavily guarded room housing the tooth is open to devotees and tourists. However, you don’t actually see the tooth. It’s kept in a gold casket shaped like a dagoba (stupa), which contains a series of six dagoba caskets of diminishing size. Alut Maligawa Behind the shrine stands the three story Alut Maligawa, a newer and larger shrine hall displaying dozens of sitting Buddhas donated by Thai devotees. The design resembles a Thai Buddhist shrine hall in tribute to the fact that Thai monks reestablished Sri Lanka’s ordination lineage during the reign of King Kirti Sri Rajasinha. Devales There are four Kandyan devales to the gods who are followers of Buddha and protect Sri Lanka. Three of the four devales are near the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic. The 14th century Natha Devale is the oldest. It perches on a stone terrace with a fine vahalkada gateway. Bodhi trees and dagobas stand in the devale grounds. Adjacent is the simple Pattini Devale, dedicated to the goddess of chastity. The Vishnu Devale on the other side of Raja Vidiya is reached by carved steps and features a drumming hall. The great Hindu god Vishnu is the guardian of Sri Lanka, demonstrating the intermingling of Hinduism and Buddhism. Further away, the brightly ainted tower gateway of the Kataragama Devale demands attention amid the bustle on Kotugodelle Vidiya. Murugan, the god of war, has six heads and 12 hands wielding weapons. Monasteries The principal viharas (Buddhist complexes) in Kandy have considerable importance the high priests of the two best known, Malwatte and Asgiriya, are the most important in Sri Lanka. These temples are the headquarters of two of the main nikayas . The head monks also administer the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic. The Malwatte Maha Vihara is across the lake from the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, while the Asgiriya Maha Vihara is off Wariyapola Sri Sumanga Mawatha, northwest of the town center. It has a large reclining Buddha image.