City of Kandy lies in center of Sri Lanka at a elevation of about 485 metres above sea level and about 116 Kms 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 the King Wickramabahu III (of 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 fall of coastal regions to the 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 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 most 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 fro all parts of the country and many foreign tourists.
Traveling Directions to Kandy
Kandy lies in middle of the country built in a small wooded valley deep in the hills around an artificial lake created by the king Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe. Kandy can be reached from Colombo through Kandy Road which is about 3-4 hours drive.
Route from Colombo to Kandy
Route From Nuwara Eliya to Kandy
|Though : kadawata - Warakapola - Ambepussa - Mawanella Distance :120 km Travel time : 3.5 hours Driving directions : see on google map||Though : Hawaeliya - Ramboda - Pussellawa - Gampola Distance :73 km Travel time : 2.0 hours Driving directions : see on google map|
Route From Galle to Kandy
|Though : Southern Highway - Panadura - Avissawella - Kegalle - Kandy Distance :230 km Travel time : 5 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 Wickramabahu||Belongs to Kotte Royal Blood line (Ruled Kandy as a semi-indipendent kingdom under the Kotte Kingdom)||
|Jayaweera Astana||Son of Sena Sammatha Wickramabahu. Became a Christian in 1546||
|Karaliyadde Bandara||Son 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 I||Disposed 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 I||Name 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
|Senarat||A 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 II||A warrior king who build up the Kandy again and faced two major battles with the Portuguese and two with the Dutch.||
1635 – 1687
|Wimaladharmasuriya II||Son of Rajasinghe II. Maintained a harmony with the Dutch.||
1687 – 1707
|Viraparakrama Narendrasinha||Son of Wimaladharmasuriya II. Last Singhalese King of the Country||
1707 – 1739
|Sri Vijaya Rajasinhe||Brother of the Viraparakrama Narendrasinha’s queen who was of south Indian Nayakkar origin. Became a buddhist||
|Kirti Sri Rajasinhe||Brother of the Sri Vijaya Rajasinhe’s queen||
1747 – 1781
|Rajadhi Rajasinhe||Brother of Kirti Sri Rajasinhe||
1781 – 1798
|Sri Wikrama Rajasinhe||Last Sri Lankan King. Captured by the British and imprisoned in Vellore, India||
1798 – 1815
- Ambuluwawa – Biodiversity Complex – Gampola
- Appallagoda Ambalama
- Asgiri Raja Maha Viharaya – Kandy
- Bahirawa Kanda – Kandy
- Bambaragala Monastery – Teldeniya
- Temple of the Tooth Relic (Dalada Maligawa) – Kandy
- Danthure Viharaya - Danture
- Degaldoruva Raja Maha Vihara
- Dodanwela Devale
- Embakke Devalaya
- Galmaduwa Viharaya
- Gadaladeniya Rajamaha Viharaya
- Gangaramaya Raja Maha Viharaya - Lewella
- British Garrison Cemetery of Kandy
- Hendeniya Rajamaha Vihara
- Hindagala Raja Maha Vihara
- Kadugannawa Ambalama ( wayside rest )
- Kandy Lake (Nuwara Weva)
- Kataragama Devale – Kandy
- Lankatilaka Raja Maha Viharaya
- Audience Hall of the Kandyan Palace
- Natha Devale – Kandy
- Pillaiyar Kovil at Kandy
- Pusulpitiya Rajamaha Viharaya – Kothmale
- Malwatu Maha Viharaya at Kandy
- Medawala Rajamaha Viharaya [Si]
- Minimarupitiya Tampita Viharaya
- Naga Vimanaya (Sri Naga Viharaya)
- Nittawela Raja Maha Viharaya – Kandy
- Niyamgampaya Rajamaha Viharaya – Gampola
- Pattini Devale at Kandy
- Place where King Sri Wikrama Rajasinghe was Captured @ Bomure
- Ran Avuda Mandapaya of Kandyan Kingdom
- Royal Palace of the Kandyan Kingdom
- Suriyagoda Rajamaha Viharaya – Yati Nuwara
- Uda Aludeniya Raja Maha Viharaya
- Ulpange (Queen’s bathing Pavilion)
- Vallahagoda Devale – Gampola
- Vishnu Devale at Kandy
- Wegiriya Viharaya and Devalaya
Other Interesting places and events in Kandy
Map of Kandy
The map below also shows other places of interest within a approximately 20 km radius of the current site. Click on any of the markers and the info box to take you to information of these sites.
Zoom out the map to see more surrounding locations using the mouse scroll wheel or map controls.
first published : July 8, 2007