Kandy - UNESCO World Heritage Site
The Sacred City of Kandy, situated in the center of the country in the midst of hills of rare vegetal species. The monumental ensemble of Kandy is an example of construction that associates the Royal Palace and the Temple of the Tooth. It was one of a series of temples built in the places where the relic, the actual palladium of the Sinhalese monarchy, was brought following the various relocations of the capital city. The Temple of the tooth relic - the palace complex and the holy city of Kandy are associated with the history of the dissemination of one of the most important religions of humanity, Buddhism. The Temple of Kandy is the product of the last peregrination of the relic of the tooth of Lord Buddha and the testimony of a cult which continues to be practiced today.
This sacred Buddhist site, popularly known as the city of Senkadagalapura, was the last capital of the Sinhala kings whose patronage enabled the Sinahala culture to flourish for more than 2,500 years until the occupation of Sri Lanka by the British in 1815.
Kandy, founded in the 14th century, is the southern tip of Sri Lanka's 'Cultural Triangle'. The city became the capital of the kingdom in 1592, during a troubled time when many of the islanders were fleeing to the interior, away from the coastal areas the European powers were fighting over. Although taken several times, the city remained one of the bastions of Sinhalese independence until the British troops entered it on 14 February 1815. From Vimala Dharma Suriya I (1591-1604) to Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe (1798-1815), it was the last seat of royal power. It remains the religious capital of Buddhism and a sacred city for millions of believers.
Enshrined in the Dalada Maligawa is the relic of the tooth of Buddha which has long been greatly venerated. The ceremonial high point each year is the splendid ritual of the great processions on the feast of Esala Perahera. Built in a small wooded valley deep in the hills around an artificial lake created by Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe between 1803 and 1807, the city has much charm. The monumental zone includes, on the northern shores of the lake, the remains of the Royal Palace with the great Audience Hall, Temple of the Tooth, Palace of Sri Wickrama, queen's apartments and bathing house, Palle Wahala and Ran Ayuda Maduwa. Three other monumental groups - Dewala, Malwatte Vihara and Asgiriya Vihara are the final elements of this important complex. As a result of more recent modifications the Royal Palace and the Temple of the Tooth date from the reign of Keerti Sri Rajasimha (1747-82). A first temple was built in 1603, destroyed by the Portuguese in 1637, and rebuilt in 1697. As a reference to the great architecture of Anuradhapura, the first historic capital, the present grander edifice was built upon a granite substructure. In addition to granite a wide variety of materials were used for this extraordinarily rich building: limestone, marble, sculpted wood, terracotta, metal and ivory. The painted decorations vie with the sculpted decor, and include purely decorative motifs as well as different series of figures (dancers, acrobats, animals) on the beams and ceilings.