The historic bastion of the island’s Sinhalese culture, the
city of Kandy remains Sri Lanka’s most vibrant centre
of traditional arts, crafts and religious pageantry
Recounting back the steep history of Sri Lanka, the Kingdom of Kandy retains an almost legendary air. Established deep in the impenetrable hills at the heart of the island (central region of the island), the kingdom resisted repeated attacks by the Portuguese and the Dutch, clinging stubbornly to its independence throughout the dark centuries during which other parts of the island fell, to the invading Europeans one after another. Protected by its geographical position and dense jungle region around them, the Kandyan Kingdom remained a point of stable reference in the island’s turbulent colonial history and preserved ancient religious and cultural traditions which were subdued elsewhere by Christian missionaries and corrosive western influences, until it too finally succumbed to the British in 1815.
This long history of political independence still informs many aspects of life in Kandy. The city remains a bastion of Sinhalese culture and religion. It is home to the island’s most important Buddhist temple, its most revered relic and its most magnificent festival, and is renowned for its uniquely dynamic tradition of dancing and drumming. The Kandyan region is the established arts and crafts capital of the island and is filled with myriad temples which exhibit a unique architectural style and are covered in vibrant murals.