Kandy, the holly buddhist city
Queen of the mountain
Kandy, the little pearl of Sri Lanka, listed as a world heritage site by Unesco, is considered as the capital of the mountains. Located at 500 meters of altitude, it is a beautiful heaven for the fauna and the flora. According to the legends it was funded by the king Vikrama Bahu 1st (1474-1511). He followed an astrologist’s advice who would have recommended him to build a temple for Buddha’s tooth.
Kandy the holly city
Kandy was the last capital of the Sinhala kings before the British occupation. This dynasty brought many to the town thanks to patronage, and allowed the Buddhist culture to bloom. Specially renowned for its religious aspect, it is a holly city for millions of Buddhists. It shelters numerous temples, the most famous being Gadaladeniya, Lankathilaka Viharaya, Embekke Devalaya, Degaldoruwa, Dodanwala, Hindagala Viharaya, Madawala Vihraya and Galmaduwa Viharaya.
The Tooth Temple
Kandy’s reputation is mainly due to the Buddha’s Tooth Temple, a famous pilgrimage place. Indeed, this temple shelters the Buddha’s tooth relic which would have been brought back from India in Sri Lanka at the beginning of the Buddhist Era. The journey is told through a 21 paintings serie. The Tooth Temple has been refurbished several times over time. For instance the golden roof dates back to 1988.
Esala Perahera (the precossion of Esala) is one of the greatest Buddhist festivals dating back to 1747. It is celebrated in August and lasts for ten days. The King Rajashinghe organized this procession to allow the people to venerate the holy Buddha’s Tooth at a time where it was not exposed to everyone. That tooth would have the virtue to ward off evil, protect the kingdom and sends down rain.
Hundreds of elephants, embellished with sparkling blankets and splendid light masks, and dancers parade along the streets. The elephant that opens the parade wears the relic tooth on his back. The Kandy dance is the official dance in Sri Lanka. Dancers, men and women, wear long skirts and many silver and ivory necklaces, silver bracelets and foot rings. The drums give rhythm. Hypnotic!
Esala Perahera ends the last day with a ceremony in the daytime during which each temple’s guardians fetch a pail of water and keep it until next year.