Kandy Sweet Kandy…

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Mar 312012

Kandy was the capital of Sri Lanka for two centuries until 1815. The sweet-sounding name of Kandy derives from Kanda Uda Pasrata which means mountainous district. Our first visit was to see the famous Temple of the Tooth, which is considered one of the most important Buddhist shrines in Sri Lanka and a sacred pilgrimage for the devout, holding the tooth of Buddha. Our guide Soo refers to this famous shrine as the Temple of the Tooth Relic but with his pronunciation some of us heard “Temple of the Tooth Fairy.” Somehow this sent us all into peals of uncontrollable laughter after a relatively long day.

The Temple of the Tooth is also historically significant as the location where the last Kandyan chief handed over power to the British Empire in 1815. The British immediately built a large Anglican church on the sacred grounds adjacent to the temple as a show of power and it is still intact today. Tamil Tigers bombed the main Temple complex entrance in the late 90s so the entire area is gated off and security is extremely tight subjecting all visitors to bag searches and metal detectors.

Around the temple complex, there is also the Sri Dalada Museum dedicated to the Tooth Relic as well as the Raja Tusker Museum, a memorial for Sri Lanka’s most famous elephant who often carried the Tooth Relic casket during the elaborate festival of Esala Perhera.

Following the temple visit we walked the Royal Botanic Gardens along with courting Sri Lankan lovers and young families enjoying a gorgeous day in an exquisite park. The gardens are a favorite destination for locals and well deserved source of pride and history.