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Hidden by mountains and mist in the Central Province is the sacred city of Kandy, which served as the last Sinhala Kingdom of Sri Lanka. For over 15 years, Sri Vickrama Rajasinha reigned over the city until he was captured and the island fell entirely under the rule of the British Empire, in 1815. It is of huge religious importance to Buddhists, primarily because of the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, which safeguards what is believed to be the remnant of a tooth that once belonged to Lord Buddha.
Today, Kandy is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the island throughout the year although it is best visited between November and April, and in July during the Esala Perahera. The weather is very mild, only getting a little cold during the off-peak season, making it a pleasant getaway for locals and tourists, alike.
Kandy first became the capital of ancient Sri Lanka in 1592, when the coastal cities were still colonized by the Portuguese and Dutch (and later the British). Sitting at some 500 metres above sea level, the Kandyan Kingdom was largely ruled by the Nayak dynasty, believed to have its origins in India. The last king of Kandy was also the last king of Sri Lanka.
The Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, commonly referred to as the Dalada Maligawa, was built by King Wimaladharmasuriya in the 17th Century. It was renovated by his son King Narendrasingha and the octagon, called the Pattirippuwa, was built by King Wickramasinghe. The sacred relic is protected by seven golden caskets and a bulletproof glass frame. The relic is rarely taken out of its caskets, although on special times of the year, it is brought out for public viewings. The temple also carries out daily rituals in its house, three times a day. Other sites of religious importance are the Galadeniya Raja Maha Viharaya, Lankathilaka and Embekke Devale.
Another significant Buddhist event is the Kandy Perahera in celebration of the Esala Full Moon, which takes place in the month of July. The parade is considered the most colorful event of the year, with hundreds of dancers, drummers, performers and colourfully decorated elephants coming together for a night of lights and traditional music.
Kandy is also home to the beautiful Royal Botanical Gardens and the sprawling campus of the University of Peradeniya. The Kadugannawa Gap is also also a famous attraction, because of its significance to the Colombo-Kandy Highway, which was built under be guidance of Captain Dorson during the British rule. The city is also a good starting for excursions to the nearby Knuckles Mountain Range
Today, Kandy is very much a modern city and is considered one of the most beautiful in Sri Lanka. Its surrounding hills make it a very green city and enjoys mild temperatures around the year. However, it can get cold and rainy during certain times of the year, so it is best to visit between December and April.