Kingdom of Kandy (මහනුවර රාජධානිය)

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The City of Kandy lies in the centre of Sri Lanka at an elevation of about 485 metres above sea level and about 116 km from Colombo. Generally considered the capital of the hill country, Kandy was the last capital of last generation of Sri Lanka Kings which finally fell under British rule in 1815. The Name Kandy was given by the English as a derivation of “Kanda Uda Rata”. The current Sri Lankan name is “Maha Nuwara” and the historical name of this city is Senkadagalapura.

According to folklore the name Senkadagala originated from a Brahmin called Senkadagala who lived in the area or from a queen (called Senkada) of King Wickramabahu or from a coloured stone called Senkada gala.

Senkadagalapura was established as a city by King Wickramabahu III (of the Gampola Era) during his reign from 1357-1374 AD. Senasammata Wickremabahu ascended the throne in the 15th century (1473-1511) making it the new capital of the Kandyan Kingdom. Until the 19th century, Kandy was the capital city and thus the home of the Royal Palace and the “Dalada Maligawa” (Temple of the Tooth relic).

Despite the fall of coastal regions to foreign invaders ( Portuguese, Dutch and English) the Kingdom of Kandy managed to hold its independence surviving many invasions due to the torturous access routes through mountains. Kandy finally submitted to the British in 1815 when its chieftains voluntarily submitted to British rule by signing a pact with Britain at the “Magul Maduwa” which stands to this day near the Dalada Maligawa by the Kandy lakeside.

The last king of Sri Lanka, King Sri Wickrama Rajasinhe was imprisoned by the British and sent to a prison in India and lived as a prisoner until his death. With his capture, probably the longest Royal Dynasty in the world which survived since the 6th century BC (over 2350 years) came to an end.

Even after the invasion, Kandy has managed to preserve its function as the religious capital of Sri Lanka and a place of pilgrimage for practitioners of the purest form of Buddhism.

Kandy is also popular because of the annual festival known as the ” Esala Maha Perahera” in which the Tooth relic of Buddha is taken in a grand procession through the streets of the city. The tooth relic is taken on a royal tusker. The procession includes traditional dancers and drummers, flag bearers of the provinces of the old Kandyan kingdom, the Nilames (temple custodians) wearing their traditional dresses, torch bearers and also the grandly attired elephants. This ceremony which is annually held in the month of July, attracts large crowds from all parts of the country and many foreign tourists.

Traveling Directions to Kandy

Kandy can be reached from Colombo on the old Colombo – Kandy road (option 1) which is scenic but heavy in traffic, especially on Fridays and Sundays. However, the new Central Expressway (option 2) has opened up a new route which is longer but less cumbersome.

Route 1 from Colombo to KandyRoute 2 from Colombo to Kandy
Through : Katunayake Expressway – Central Expressway – Kurunegala
Distance :150 km
Travel time: 3.20 hours
Driving Directions : see on Google map
Through : Katunayake Expressway – Central Expressway – Kurunegala
Distance :150 km
Travel Time: 3.20 hours
Driving Directions : see on Google map
Route From Nuwara Eliya to Kandy
Through : Walapane – Raja Mawatha
Distance :100 km
Travel Time : 3.0 hours
Driving Directions : see on Google map

A chronological list of Sri Lankan kings who ruled from Kandy [For a full list click here]

Sena Sammatha WickramabahuBelongs to Kotte Royal Blood line (Ruled Kandy as a semi-indipendent kingdom under the Kotte Kingdom)
Jayaweera AstanaSon of Sena Sammatha Wickramabahu. Became a Christian in 1546
Karaliyadde BandaraSon of Jayaweera. Captured the throne from Jayaweera. Became a Christian to get protection from the Portugese.
Dona Catherina (Kusumasana Devi) Daughter of Karaliyedde Bandara. Converted to Catholisum by the Portuguese and appointed the queen of the Kandyan Kingdom by the Portuguese
Rajasinghe IDisposed Dona Catherina. Ruled from Sitawaka Kingdom
Yamasinghe Bandara (Don Phillip)A nephew of Karaliyadde Bandara. Took control of Kandy with the help of the Portuguese
Wimaladharmasuriya IName was Konappu Bandara and then Don Juan. Ousted Yamasinghe Bandara’s son Don João who was 12 years old and assented to the throne as Wimaladharmasuriya. Became a Buddhist again and married Dona Catherina to establish the Royal Bloodline. Fought the Portuguese and freed Kandy from them. Famous battle of Danture was fought by him.
1592 – 1604
SenaratA cousin brother of king Wimaladharmasuriya I. Was a Buddhist monk and a devoted Buddhist. Didn’t have the strength of a king. Married Dona Catherina again to establish the Royal Bloodline
1604 – 1635
Rajasinghe IIA warrior king who build up the Kandy again and faced two major battles with the Portuguese and two with the Dutch.
1635 – 1687
Wimaladharmasuriya IISon of Rajasinghe II. Maintained a harmony with the Dutch.
1687 – 1707
Viraparakrama NarendrasinhaSon of Wimaladharmasuriya II. Last Singhalese King of the Country
1707 – 1739
Sri Vijaya RajasinheBrother of the Viraparakrama Narendrasinha’s queen who was of south Indian Nayakkar origin. Became a buddhist
1739 -1747
Kirti Sri RajasinheBrother of the Sri Vijaya Rajasinhe’s queen
1747 – 1781
Rajadhi RajasinheBrother of Kirti Sri Rajasinhe
1781 – 1798
Sri Wikrama RajasinheLast Sri Lankan King. Captured by the British and imprisoned in Vellore, India
1798 – 1815

 Places of historical interest in and around Kandy

  1. Ambuluwawa – Biodiversity Complex – Gampola
  2. Appallagoda Ambalama
  3. Asgiri Raja Maha Viharaya – Kandy
  4. Bahirawa Kanda – Kandy
  5. Bambaragala Monastery – Teldeniya
  6. Temple of the Tooth Relic (Dalada Maligawa) – Kandy
  7. Danthure Viharaya – Danture
  8. Degaldoruva Raja Maha Vihara
  9. Dodanwela Devale
  10. Embakke Devalaya
  11. Galmaduwa Viharaya
  12. Gadaladeniya Rajamaha Viharaya
  13. Gangaramaya Raja Maha Viharaya – Lewella
  14. British Garrison Cemetery of Kandy
  15. Hendeniya Rajamaha Vihara
  16. Hindagala Raja Maha Vihara
  17. Kadugannawa Ambalama ( wayside rest )
  18. Kandy Lake (Nuwara Weva)
  19. Kataragama Devale – Kandy
  20. Lankatilaka Raja Maha Viharaya
  21. Audience Hall of the Kandyan Palace
  22. Natha Devale – Kandy
  23. Pillaiyar Kovil at Kandy
  24. Pusulpitiya Rajamaha Viharaya – Kothmale
  25. Malwatu Maha Viharaya at Kandy
  26. Medawala Rajamaha Viharaya [Si]
  27. Minimarupitiya Tampita Viharaya
  28. Naga Vimanaya (Sri Naga Viharaya)
  29. Nittawela Raja Maha Viharaya – Kandy
  30. Niyamgampaya Rajamaha Viharaya – Gampola
  31. Pattini Devale at Kandy
  32. Place where King Sri Wikrama Rajasinghe was Captured @ Bomure
  33. Ran Avuda Mandapaya of Kandyan Kingdom
  34. Royal Palace of the Kandyan Kingdom
  35. Suriyagoda Rajamaha Viharaya – Yati Nuwara
  36. Uda Aludeniya Raja Maha Viharaya
  37. Ulpange (Queen’s bathing Pavilion)
  38. Vallahagoda Devale – Gampola
  39. Vishnu Devale at Kandy
  40. Wegiriya Viharaya and Devalaya

Other Interesting places and events in Kandy

  1.  Sri Dalada Perahera (Kandy Esala Perahara)
  2. Peradeniya Botanical Gardens
  3. Udawatta Kele Sanctuary

Map of Kandy

Please click on the button below to load the Dynamic Google Map (ගූගල් සිතියම් පහලින්)

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