The relaxed and peaceful atmosphere of the town of Kandy in the heart of Sri Lanka's hill country, about 75 miles (120km) from Colombo, is probably the result of being beautifully situated around a tranquil lake in a bowl of hills. The town is also the bastion of the island's pervasive Buddhist faith, and plays host to the country's most venerated religious relic, the sacred tooth of Buddha. The octagonal Dalada Maligawa, or Temple of the Tooth, attracts hundreds of pilgrims to daily ceremonies honouring the relic, and each year in July and August the tooth is carried in procession on an elephant during the ancient Esala Perahera parade. According to legend, the tooth was taken from Buddha as he lay on his funeral pyre and was smuggled to Sri Lanka hidden in the hair of a princess in the 4th century. Visitors can't actually see the tooth as it's in a casket, but the temple is an interesting place all the same. The ancient city also sports a good museum, the lovely Peradeniya Botanical Gardens, a bird sanctuary and an auditorium where folk dances are performed and local crafts are on display.
Telephone: Heritage Committee: 081 222 4935