Kandy’s lake is a charm. When you wake up in the morning cool the lake reflects in the entire Sri Lanka‘s spirit, so fresh and relaxed. The lake is the middle of the town and its heart. In terms of locations everything is related to it. In the morning I had breakfast in the hotel with David from California and an Austrian woman, both very seasoned travelers. She filled me in with the hill country, the area south of Kandy full of tea plantations and rice fields. The tips she gave me in regards to Adam’s Peak climb and the train ride to Ella were great and I planned to follow up when I get in town with info in this direction. So I walked to town’s center on the lake’s shore and got on the main street with the restaurants where I had dinner last night.
Kandy is the town where you find all services and here, after a long discussion with a very nice and helpful girl from the information office I crystallized my plans for the days to follow, the flight to India and for all this I had to extend my stay in Kandy for another night.
The most important place to visit in town is the Temple of the Tooth relic, that holds, as the name says, a tooth from Buddha. It is considered “the” most important national treasure and is considered the symbol of the sovereignty of Sri Lanka, the ones being in the possession of the tooth being allowed to rule the country. The history of the tooth and its locations in time is well documented and on my way in the Cultural Triangle I saw several temples that used to hold it that were built only with this purpose. In order to achieve their goals both the Portuguese and the Dutch wanted to have it destroyed and more recently in 1998, the Tamil Tigers exploded a truck bomb at the temple’s entrance. The temple is a major pilgrimage place and lots of children are brought here in school in day trips. The tooth is encased in a number of ivory cones and is located in the upper floor of the temple. People come and pray in front of the close door of the altar that holds the relic all day.
On the way to the temple I bumped again into David who, following my advice, went to rent a car to in the Cultural triangle and the price he got was $450/4days with accommodations included, a far cry from the $50/day that the guys from the airport were advertising.
Besides the temple there are several devales, Hindu prayer places, all around the main temple, several other Buddhist temples and monasteries. After I visited them I had to swing by the hotel to extend my stay and drop some shopping, right in time before the last room to be snatched in front of me. Rushed back to town to get to see a Kandian Dance show, the typical for tourists but very interesting and ending with a fire show and a walk on burning cinders. After the show the entire horde of tourists went to the puja for viewing of the Sacred Tooth. This procedure happens three times a day and you could hear from far away the noise of the trumpets and drums that are used in the ceremony.
At 6:30 PM the doors of the altar open and long lines of pilgrims are passing in front of it, each having the chance only to have a peek up close at the relic’s encasement. One of the things people come to do in Sri Lanka is ayurvedic massage and it tempted me but being too late I passed upon the offer. I had a short demo of it the day before right before we reached Dambulla and it felt very good.
Kandy, being a religious place, has a different vibe that many other cities. The restaurants close early and none are serving alcohol except some that are well regulated and are mainly catering for tourists. I hardly found at 8:00 pm an open restaurant and had dinner pondering upon my future schedule and when I got out, around 9:00 pm, the town was completely deserted, I noticed this the night before and I realized that I never saw this level early evening quietude of a town anywhere else. Kandy was asleep.