Capital of Sri Lanka’s Hill Country, Kandy is an exciting, colourful city with a colourful history
Khiri's Experiences Take You Deeper into Kandy
Kandy was the last stronghold of the Sri Lankan Kings before the British took over the control of the entire island in 1815. It is still commonly known as the Hill country capital and Kandy remains as one of the main cities in the island.
The main highlight of course is the Temple of Tooth Relic, which houses the relic of the tooth of Lord Buddha. The relic has played a vital role throughout the history of Sri Lanka as it was considered that whoever holds the tooth relic holds the power of governing the country. Hence battles were fought and Kings emerged by gaining hold of the relic. For this reason, even today this temple is considered as the pinnacle of Sri Lankan Buddhists. With the strong legacy and history behind it, the sacred city of Kandy has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Local Markets of Kandy
Kandy is home to one of the most vibrant and buzzling local markets. Whether it’s spices, fruits, vegetables or fresh meat, this is where the local residents come to purchase their groceries. Hence an afternoon visit to the markets is something not to be missed and our guides will generously purchase some spices as a souvenir for you.
Cook Like a Local
This one is for the foodies who would like to try out a totally authentic cooking experience. Visit a homestay in the outskirts of Kandy where the lady of the family will first give you a thorough introduction into spices used in cooking Sri Lankan curries. If you thought until now that a Sri Lankan curry is exactly the same as Indian curries, this is the moment that you will change your opinion.
Afterwards she will guide you through the whole process of cooking the perfect curry. Some will be cooked the traditional way, in claypots on a woodfire stove while some curries will be done on the modern gas cookers since this is not a staged-up show and it’s exactly how things will function here in a local kitchen where the old world meets the modern technology. At the end you will be served with a mouth-watering lunch of what you just cooked – this is your moment of glory to pretend you are a master chef as tears of pride and spice rolls down your cheek.
Weavers of the Kandyan Kings
The history of handloom textile weaving in Sri Lanka dates back to 6th Century BC. As surprising as it may sound, this actually coincides with the beginning of the Sinhalese race. When Prince Vijaya from India landed here in Sri Lanka, he first caught sight of Kuveni, a queen of an indigenous race of Yakshas (demon tribe) who was spinning yarn at a wheel and a race was bord from their union. Fast forward thousands of years, now in the 21st century this traditional art and craft is still alive, it has survived through the days of the Kings, reigns of the colonial masters, industrialization, a brutal civil war and now into the post pandemic period. BUT the biggest challenge is to convince the next generation to take it up and carry it forward.
In an effort to keep this craft alive, we have designed an experience which revolves around a little village tucked away in the lush Dumbara Valley (a.k.a. Knuckles Mountain Range) where this ancient craft is still alive. These special textiles were used mostly by Kandyan Kings and aristocrats in ancient times and fetched premium prices simply for the fact that they took weeks to weave.
Take a short walk along the village roads through paddy fields and if you happen to visit just after the rainy season, you will also be able to see a stunning waterfall gushing down in the distance. You will also have the opportunity to visit one of the very few local houses where the art is still being practiced.
As you get to see how they go about the arts, you also get the chance to delve into the simple daily lifestyle of these traditional hand weavers and experience their genuine hospitality with a cup of tea served with some traditional Kandyan snacks and sweetcakes after which you bid goodbye to them and return with the satisfying notion that you did your little part to help keep the traditions alive without fading off and contribute to its revival. We believe travel is all about this feeling of satisfaction that you get after a trip. If you don’t feel it, you haven’t travelled in the first place.
Hoppers for Barhoppers
Here’s the sneak peek into our latest upcoming signature experience in Kandy. Obviously with the influence of the sacred temple of tooth relic, Kandy has been a traditionally conservative city. Usually, it is considered as a sleeping city after 8pm but here we are trying to see the other side of the story. Together with an insider from town, walk around the city while visiting some of the nicest vintage bars such as the Royal Bar and the one at Queen’s Hotel. And of course, a visit to a dodgy bar (dive bar as some might call it) is also not to be missed. For drinks we follow the local habit of having a shot of arrack at each bar. Since we are fans of hoppers (and also because it rhymes with Bar Hoppers), a snack made out of a batter of coconut milk and flour, this experience will also entail tasting some hoppers along with lunu miris, a spicy sambol made out of chilies and onions. This alcohol infused experience would give a fitting closure to your experience in Kandy.
Insider Tip: If you have a morning train to catch the next day, extending the arrack drinking session beyond the experience is not recommended for obvious reasons!
Mahiru Fernando was born and raised in Colombo, Sri Lanka, and as far back as he can remember, he has always loved being surprised by the things his hometown has to offer. His favourite places on the island are the national parks (though he prefers them without the crowds), and the cooler hiking trails in the countryside that offer fresh air, lush greenery, and views of the waterfalls. When he is not at work, Mahiru can be found with a guitar in his arms, or in a kitchen, where he loves to prepare his favourite dish: Black Pork Curry.