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Kandy City

Arugam BayThe hill-country capital; Kandy lies on a plain amidst towering hills and looped by Sri Lanka's largest river: the Mahaweli. The town's pleasant temperate climate, its scenic location and its rich history has made it a favorite haunt for travelers. It is also the natural gateway to the stirring peaks of Sri Lanka's hill country. For almost two centuries Kandy provided a safe haven for the proud Kandyan Kingdom, until it finally fell to the British in 1815. Now a tiny but bustling city, Kandy still regards itself as the bastion of Buddhist philosophy.

Kandy is known to most Sri Lankans as Maha Nuwara, "The Great City." And great it is The sacred Tooth Relic of the Buddha, is housed here in its own temple, and is paraded around the city in one of Asia's most celebrated festivals, the Kandy Perahera, held during July-August. The monasteries of Sri Lanka's two leading Buddhist sects have long been established in the city.

Traditions of Sinhalese music and dance, such as Kandyan dancing, are kept alive in Kandy, as are many arts and crafts. Little wonder, then, that Kandy was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988.

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The ascend to Kandy past Kadugannawa is quite dramatic, past a ring of mountains including the Bible Rock, several hairpin bends lined with wayside fruit stalls and a hint of the spectacular scenery to come deeper into the hills. Once across the bridge over the Mahaweli River, the Royal Botanical gardens with over 60 hectares of immaculately designed lawns and tropical foliage, and the Peradeniya campus of the University of Sri Lanka come into view. Beyond this is Kandy's traffic-crammed main town, a contrast to Kandy's quieter suburbs. The main attraction in the city is the magnificent Dalada Maligawa where a tooth relic of Lord Buddha is enshrined. The best time to visit is when a pooja (religious service) is being held at dawn, midday, or in the evening. The services are accompanied with traditional music and drumming. 

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