Kandy’s irresistible attractions

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The scenic beauty of Kandy’s hills and its historical value has been described and praised endlessly, and there is no doubt that it is endless. The culture, beauty and everything in and around draws the attention of those who arrive to view the scenery of the country’s hill paradise – Kandy.

Whenever the dates of the calendar are marked in red, many would hit the roads to reach the hills, as the attraction lies in the cool breeze and lush green mountains that soothes the eye, even from a distance. Kandy’s significance is such that one is at a loss, sometimes for words to do justice in description. However, it is renowned as one of the major tourist destinations in the island. With winding roads leading to the hill capital it is an experience none would like to miss on a visit to the world renowned ‘Pearl of the Indian Ocean’.

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It’s not only the hilly location, but also the myriad cultural activities which attract tourists to Kandy. There is a month, in which the hotels are full, and tourists are found in every corner and street of the city – it is nothing else but the annual pageant, which draws the visitors in their numbers. The Esala Perahera, which parades the city streets every August, is the largest crowd puller, and has been so for several decades, dating back to the times of ancient Kings. According to chronicles and historic reports, foreigners had been present even during the ancient times to view this elegant pageant – the Esala Perahera – seeped in religious and cultural significance.

A record number of tourists are seen during the months of June, July and August and the roadsides are packed with locals as well as foreigners. Hotels and other tourist accommodation is said to be recording 80 percent or more occupancy a week prior to the pageant. Any onlooker would observe that the roads are congested with people. Among the locals, there would be seated a large number of tourists, focused on the pageant with cameras and video recorders to capture the beautiful moments, while others would be seen talking to and mingling with the locals on the streets.
Tourists seek out Kandy, to experience its culture and relics of the Kandyan kingdom. For some, the remaining colonial buildings of the British period, is also of interest and intrigue. The other hotspot in the hills that tourists are tempted to visit is the Peradeniya Botanical Gardens, a treasure trove of biodiversity and endemic plants, the very old trees planted by the then rulers the British and some even dating to earlier times. Looking at the number of visitors to the Peradeniya Gardens, the numbers exceed 250,000 foreigners each year. The numbers have increased in the past couple of years, especially with the end of the war, and this year in particular a significant increase has been recorded in comparison to last year.

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A visit to the Dalada Maligawa at any time of the day, one is sure to come across large numbers of tourists exploring the ancient constructions of the Maligawa, admiring its artifacts and culture. Each tourist is accompanied by a guide who will be seen explaining the history of the buildings, its significance and the heritage and so on.

Looking at the number of visitors, not only at these places, but to all other parts of Kandy, it is evident that there is a marked increase in tourist arrivals with the facilities provided for them too keeping pace with the increase in numbers. Also special counters have been set up, at places where tourists frequent, to better serve their needs. As for the Dalada Maligawa, special counters to leave their baggage also to obtain information and informational audios too are provided. These measures are taken to better facilitate the visitors and also to provide them with accurate information. For those who require in-depth details about the places they visit special brochures and leaf-lets are made available.
Apart from the places to visit there are opportunities for entertainment and many souvenir shops selling brassware and gems in Kandy. On the Peradeniya Road starting from Pilimatalawe there are many spots which specialize in brassware. These products are unique and depict Sri Lankan culture and are heavily patronized by tourist groups viewing or purchasing goods to take home as memories and souvenirs.

Speaking to some shop owners, they said businesses are running smooth and a lot of tourists are arriving in the city, tourism has increased and the tourism boost for is good. More revenues and paths are opening with the development in tourism and the industry is opening more opportunities for self employment especially in the traditional trades – particularly the gem and jewelry industry, and the crafts – woodcarving and brassware manufacture. The number of souvenir shops in the area has increased and some have expanded their businesses overseas with the new opportunities that have arisen via tourism.

Speaking to those who are involved in tourism, they too said, ‘tourism is improving’ and is becoming a thriving industry. The country is reaching greater heights in developments, Kandy, being a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is making a significant contribution towards this development. Lankathilake, Gadaladeniya, Peradeniya Gardens, the Temple of the Tooth Relic, the Museum and of course the War cemetery are places that are of significance as are the lush green mountains, the cool breeze and the icy cold streams and the perfectly situated hotels – all add allure to Kandy, the much visited city, which records the highest number of tourists visiting each year.

By Shanika Pitigala

– See more at: http://www.nation.lk/edition/news-features/item/13075-kandy%E2%80%99s-irresistible-attractions.html#sthash.PwjVuFit.dpuf

Category: Travel Guide@Kandy
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