The historic city of Kandy was the last capital of Sri Lanka, located in the valley surrounded by forested hills and partly by the meandering river Mahaveli. It was an urban centre from the 15th century to the 19th century. The city is visited by visiters and pilgrims of the Buddhist world to admire and worship the sacred Tooth Relic Shrine. The city ,with its beauty enhanced by the artificial lake; the Milky Ocean ;the royal palace complex, four-shrines Natha. Vishnu. Kataragama and Pattini. and the two famous monastic complexes- Malvatta and Asgiriya Viharas. is continuously visited by tourists even for short visits.
The annual pageant of the Tooth Relic Shrine held in July-August each year. remains the cynosure par excellence
The Suburban shrines of archaeological and historic interest that attract the tourists to Kandv are Lankatilaka and Gadaladeniya temples and Ambekke devale.The well known seat of higher learning. University of Peradeniya and the renowned Royal Botanical Gardens are added attractions.
Quiet and homely, residents cluster around the economic hub that buzzes a bazaar atmosphere. Life moves sedately, though not with inactivity. Away from tourist trappings, Kandy is filled with hidden thrills.
Passing the spice gardens, Pinnawela elephant orphanage, Mahaweli river and the famous Peradeniya Gardens - Lord Mountbatten's WWII headquarters - you arrive in Kandy, home to the Royal Palace and the sacred Temple of the Tooth (known as the Dalada Maligawa).
The last King who transformed Kandy into a celestial city , designed the white stone parapet that runs on the north shore of the artificial Kandy Lake (called kiri muhuda, or milky sea). The cloud-like drift (called walakulu bemma) on the walls and wave-like swells (called diyareli bemma) thus appears to make Kandy, a city floating in the sky in the lake's reflection. Available historical records suggest that Senkadagalapura (an early name for Kandy) was established by the King Wickramabahu III during the period of his reign from 1357-1374 AD. Some scholars contend that the original name of Kandy was Katubulu Nuwara located near present Watapuluwa. The more popular historical name - Senkadagala - according to folklore, was originated from one of the several possible sources. These include naming after a brahmin with the name Senkanda who lived in a cave near by, a queen of King Wickramabahu named Senkanda, and after a coloured stone named Senkadagala. The present name Kandy is only an anglicized version of Kanda Uda Rata (meaning the land of mountains) originated in the colonial era. After King Wickremabahu III who founded the city, Senasammata Wickremabahu ascended the throne in the 15th century (1473-1511) making it the new capital of the Kandyan Kingdom. He was followed by his son King Jayaweera Astan (1511-1551) and later by Karalliyadde Bandara (1551-1581). His successor however, preferred to rule the hill country from Sitawaka on the western flanks of the hills. A period of turmoil for power ended with the ascent to the throne by Konappu Bandara who came to be known as Wimaladharmasuriya I. The present name Kandy is only an anglicized version of Kanda Uda Rata (meaning the land of mountains) originated in the colonial era. After King Wickremabahu III who founded the city, Senasammata Wickremabahu ascended the throne in the 15th century (1473-1511) making it the new capital of the Kandyan Kingdom. He was followed by his son King Jayaweera Astan (1511-1551) and later by Karalliyadde Bandara (1551-1581). His successor however, preferred to rule the hill country from Sitawaka on the western flanks of the hills. A period of turmoil for power ended with the ascent to the throne by Konappu Bandara who came to be known as Wimaladharmasuriya I. Wimaladharmasuriya I having embraced Buddhism consolidated his authority further by bringing the tooth relic of the Lord Buddha to Kandy from a place called Delgamuwa. He proceeded to build a temple for the sacred relic which subsequently developed into the present Dalada Maligawa. In between the death of Wimaladhramasuriya I in 1604 and the capture of the last King of Kandy by the British in 1815 seven successive kings ruled the Kandyan kingdom from its base at Senkadagala or its suburbs such as Meda Maha Nuwara, Kundasale and Hanguranketa. The beautiful Octagon at the Dalada Maligawa and the picturesque Kandy Lake were constructed during the time of the last King Sri Wickrema Rajasinghe who was exiled to South India by the British. The history of Kandy and it's townscape witnesses rapid and drastic change from the beginning of British rule particularly after the 1818 rebellion. As Sir Lowry in his Gazetteer recorded " The story of English rule in the Kandyan country during the rebellion of 1818 cannot be related without shame.. Hardly a member of the leading families remained alive.. Those whom the sword and the gun had spared, cholera and small pox and privations had slain by the hundreds.. Others became ignorant and apathetic. Any subsequent development efforts of the government for many years were only attempts begun and abandoned". However, Ananda Kumaraswamy - the great savant of eastern culture writing in 1912 after nearly hundred years of British occupation had this to say. "Hardy mountaineers of the interior, preserved their independence enabling us to form an estimate of Sinhalese as a live and individual people, with a national character and a national art; an individuality and art which is more difficult and often impossible to trace in the low country districts long subjected to western influence". Since its founding in the 14th Century, Kandy which remained the last stronghold of local kings had gone through many a vicissitude. Although Colombo represents the prime commercial and administrative center, Kandy continues to remain the cultural capital of Sri Lanka with a rich heritage of living monuments.
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