Kandy: A Bittersweet Revelation
Will the rain ever stop?
The city of Kandy located in central Sri Lanka is flanked by mountains beautifully draped in luxuriant tea plantations rendering a very picturesque landscape. Despite the incessant rain showers that followed us from Anuradhapura, I felt an immediate kinship to the city with the sweetest name.
Kandy doesn’t have much to offer in terms of site-seeing (most travelers visit the Temple of the Tooth shrine but we skipped it) but what it lacks in tourist attractions, it makes up for in charm. It doesn’t have any mind-blowing architecture, it doesn’t have any hip restaurants or bars and it certainly doesn’t have the electrifying energy of larger Asian cities but it does have a quiet demeanor – kind of like the pretty girl who doesn’t know she’s pretty.
The pièce de résistance lies in the artificially-made Kandy Lake (Bogambara Lake) sitting pretty in the center of the city. Just a few steps away from the mildly hectic traffic, a stroll around the lake is a favorite local pastime and it was easy to see why. The dark clouds threatening to let loose yet another downpour lingered above us but, fortunately, the rain had stopped just long enough for us to take a leisurely walk around the lake and to admire the simple beauty that was Kandy.
Kandy is a compact city making it very easy to walk around allowing you to take in the local life at your convenience. And there’s no better place to do that than at the market. I’m always pleasantly surprised at how friendly the vendors are at local markets. I can’t help but notice how happy they seem to be selling their wares, enthusiastically taking part in seemingly mundane business transactions. Their bustling energy is contagious and elicits smiles and laughter from passersby.
I just love markets!
We decided to take a break from the on-again off-again rain by attending a traditional Kandyan dance show. The tickets were less than $5 each so it was well worth the price for the one-hour show. The hall quickly filled up with tourists from all corners of the globe and whole sections were reserved by tour operators; no seats are assigned so best to get there early to avoid the crowds. Shows are presented only once a day and you can buy your tickets beforehand to insure a place.
The live music played on traditional instruments such as the gata bera (wedding drum) was entertaining and the dance performances were engaging. Brochures written in English explaining the different scenarios were available which helped tremendously in understanding the performances given in Sinhalese.
I wouldn’t classify this as a must-do but for the price it’s a nice way to spend an hour discovering by-gone traditions of this amazing country (or to take shelter from the rain).
Kandy was bittersweet because we both really enjoyed our short time there but the stubborn rain did put a damper on our stay. At night it poured so hard we were forced to stay in our hotel limiting our visit. But this city has a subdued almost inexplicable charm that left me wanting more; I’m sure there are a few hidden gems Kandyans are keeping all to themselves which I hope to discover myself some day….when the sun is shining!
Read all about my travels in Sri Lanka
Enjoyed this article? Please pin it!
Have you been to Kandy? Did you enjoy its subdued charm?