Having visited Kandy twice before, and seen its most noted sight, the Temple of the Tooth, on both occasions, we wanted to do something different.
Our hotel, The Ozo, was a short, but steep walk down to the large artificial Kandy Lake, which dominates the city.
Half the lake, known as the Sea of Milk, is surrounded by a distinctive white wall, called Walakulu Bamma or Clouds Wall. The triangular shaped holes in the wall, would in the past, have had oil lamps placed in them on festival days. The wall was built to enhance the lake’s beauty by Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe, the last Kandyan King, who was unable to complete it before the city was captured by the British, and he was forced to relinquish the kingdom.
Walking around the lakeside path is a must. The lake is protected and apart from some regulated boat trips, activities like fishing are banned. Therefore it is a mecca for wildlife, and we saw lots of birds, turtles and fish, with the birds often disappearing during the day and returning to roost at night.
Near the Temple of the Tooth entrance, we took Cemetery Road with the intention of visiting the Garrison Cemetery. But having hiked up there (past toilets donated by the People’s Republic of China), we found the gates closed and had to be content with peering through them. The cemetery contains 163 graves from colonial times, with many dying very young of sunstroke, jungle fever or accidents with elephants. The caretaker, who apparently once guided Prince Charles around the cemetery, is said to be entertaining with stories for nearly every grave and so this was a big disappointment.
We took in a late afternoon performance of cultural dancing at the Kandy Art and Cultural Centre. Tickets costs 1,000 Rupees/£3.60, and our guide had reserved front row seats for us, so we had an excellent view of the stage. The show started with drummers and a man playing a snake charming flute, progressed into girls dancing in various costumes, acrobats, a devil monkey which was a bit of a let-down, masked dancers, and fire eaters. Towards the end of the show, a long tray of hot coals was brought to the front and two of the male dancers walked over them. At this point, everyone was allowed to leave their seats and gather round for a better view, but we were already in pole position. Cold drinks and snacks were available and there were a couple of hawkers selling hand painted fridge magnets and gem necklaces.
We also visited the Royal Botanic Gardens and went on a guided food tour (see separate reviews).