We departed Sigirya on the 7th for a relatively short but scenic drive. En route to Kandy we stopped at the Golden Temple of Dambulla, a World Heritage Site and the largest and best preserved cave temple complex in Sri Lanka.
The Golden Cave Temple
The traffic in Kandy is worse and more chaotic than Colombo with narrow roads and steep hills and exacerbated by huge long line ups of every vehicle type along the sides of the roads in both directions in addition to long lines of people with a variety of glass and plastic containers all waiting to purchase fuel which was in short supply due to a recent petrol strike.
We checked into a nice hotel with a view of Kandy Lake which is situated in the city centre, relaxed a bit and then headed out to see a Buddhist ceremony at the Temple of the Tooth. This temple holds a tooth from Buddha and the site is revered by Buddhist from around the world. We watched a drum ceremony and then proceeded to wait in line for the tooth viewing. There were many people here but the tourists were greatly outnumbered by locals. The temple is only open for about 1 hour. The crowds need to be moved quickly past the tooth viewing window. A bell rings (I think), the gate opens and we proceed to shuffle barefoot towards one of the most revered body parts of Buddha. We quickly get to the viewing area and inside, manned by three men is a large donation plate which catches your eyes right away and diverts your attention from the main attraction nestled in a large ornate temple behind the men blocking the view while being continuously shuffled onward. We didn’t see the tooth.
Temple of the Tooth.
The next morning we spent several hours strolling through the Royal Botanic Gardens in Peradeniya, about 5.5 km outside of Kandy. The garden includes more than 4,000 species of plants including orchids, spices, medicinal plants and palm trees and is spread out through an area of 147 acres. There is also a large group of flying fox estimated to number more than 24,000.
Royal Botanic Gardens