TEMPLES, TUSKERS & TRADITIONAL CRAFTS
What child is not going to like the sound of a town called KANDY? Perhaps unsurprisingly, the main sight here concerns a tooth – the Buddha’s, housed in its own temple. The town itself, though, is an interesting place to explore, full of old colonial buildings (Kandy is another former capital and it’s Old Town yet another UNESCO World Heritage site) and shop-filled side streets abuzz with tuk-tuks and busy stalls piled high with dried fish and garlands of exotic flowers. It’s set against verdant hills that tumble down to an equally green lake, along the shores of which sits the TEMPLE OF THE TOOTH [open daily from 5.30am | Rs.1000], the most revered building in the country. The tooth, believed to have been smuggled into Sri Lanka from India in the fourth century AD and ensconced in Kandy for over 425 years, is rarely on display, but the temple complex itself is quite an experience, with locals thronging to light prayer candles and make offerings of flowers and rice outside the elaborately gilded shrine itself – lotus leaves are on sale outside the temple’s entrance if your kids want to join in with their own offerings. Before you leave the compound, make sure you pay a visit to the mighty RAJA TUSKER, a venerated (and now stuffed) elephant who once had the honourable task of carrying the Buddha’s tooth during the annual Esala Perahera; he’s in a building behind the main temple, along with the various paraphernalia he used to wear at festival time.
It's worth returning to the Temple of the Tooth for the evening puja (daily at 6.30pm), when drumming fills the air and you can line up to get a (very brief) glimpse of the golden casket that contains the tooth.
TOP TIP Kandy is a centre of TRADITIONAL CRAFTS, and you can pick up some great souvenirs at one of the workshops that make and sell drums, Kandyan-style batiks, elephant carvings and scary-looking kolam masks. A fun mini shopping tour is to charter a tuk-tuk up to Rajanima Crafts and Gunatilake Batiks on Rajapahilla Mawatha, the road that winds up the hill on the opposite side of the lake to the Temple of the Tooth; the shops are next door to each other, you get a ride in a tuk-tuk as part of the experience, and you can stop off at a viewpoint over Kandy on the ride back down.
WHERE TO STAY
THE LIJOMA LOWDOWN
Delve deeper with our tips on what to read and watch before you go, foods and drinks your kids must try, and some key cultural advice
From safari camps to beachfront villas – our pick of the most memorable places for families to stay in Sri Lanka
NEED TO KNOW
A handy overview of Sri Lanka’s weather and climate throughout the year, with recommendations for the best time to visit
Pre-trip practicalities, including getting there, visas and passports, health and safety and how to get around
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