In my last article about Sri Lanka I told you about the two ancient capitals Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa. Today, instead, I would like to take you to Kandy, the island’s third capital just before Colombo was crowned.
But before arriving in Kandy we need to stop shortly a few kilometres ahead. In fact, if you are heading to this region you can’t miss the chance of visiting one of the many Ayurveda centre you will meet on your way.
After asking our driver for suggestions, he led us to a luxuriant garden where all kind of spices were grown. The people there explained us the beneficial proprieties of every spice and how they obtained cosmetics from them.
At that point we, the women of the group, were already aware that we would have spent a lot of money on creams, soaps and other stuff. After having lunch at the very Ayurveda centre – but in a corner seemingly in the middle of the jungle – we hurried in the shop and became the best customers of the day.
Now, after having tested all the products I bought, I can say I should have saved a lot of money. I shouldn’t have believed to miracles, but in such a scenario it’s hard to apply one’s good judgement!
But let’s get back on the car and move to Kandy. We understand we arrived in town at the first traffic jam, with the typical horde of cars and motorbike as in any other town in Sri Lanka.
It was raining, as it usual does here. Our car climbed one of the many hills surrounding the town to reach our hotel. The Alcama Holiday Home (4000 rupees for the triple room) is a nice, clean place, and you can dine on the rooftop with a nice view over the city.
The next morning we woke up early to visit Kandy’s major attraction: the Temple of the Sacred Tooth, which safeguards one of Buddha’s teeth, a very important relic millions of faithfuls come every year to see.
To get into the temple you have to move along Kandy Lake, an artificial lake surrounded by benches, an ideal spot for a walk and some relax.
The entrance fee to the temple is 1000 rupees per person, and I suggest you to get a guide among the many available in front of the holy building, since it will be very useful to understand what you will see and he will help you to better organize your visit if you don’t want to miss the ceremony – when the chest containing the sacred tooth is showed to the people.
There is always a long line for the ceremony and you can’t stand more than 15 seconds in front of the chest. We preferred to take a long from the distance, in order to allow the real faithfuls to get closer and also because the crowd was very messy.
The trip continued with a visit to the Alut Maligawa, a three-storey sanctuary, bigger and more recent than the latter. Then came the Audience Hall, a pavilion located outside with stone pillars.
In the Rajah Tusker Hall you may take a look at the stuffed body of Rajah, the elephant that was in charge of the transportation of the relic until 1988 during the Esala Perahera in Kandy, a procession which takes place between July and August and lasts for about ten days.
I have been told that this parade is one of the most beautiful procession all over Asia, with percussionists, dancers and flag wavers. I guess I will have to find out on my next journey to Sri Lanka…