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November 25, 2003

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We wandered into Kandy, a place that attracted us because of its simple name. Locals know it as Nuwara which means City. Kandy served as the last independent capital before the country fell to British in 1815. (Before the British completely took over, the Portugese and Dutch ruled Sri Lanka's coast for a few centuries). The best part about Kandy is the pleasant climate that's induced by the surrounding mountains. Only 115 kms away, Colombo swelters on the lowland coast.
Kandy's lake centerpiece is an artificial job created by its last ruler Sri Rajasinha in 1807. Some local chiefs complained about the labor drain needed to complete the project and Rajasinha impaled them on the lake bed to quell further dissent.
Near the lake, a temple holds Sri Lanka's holiest Buddhist relic - a sacred tooth of Buddha. The temple is therefore called the Temple of the Tooth. Legend says that the tooth was snatched from Buddha's funeral pyre in 543 BC and brought to Sri Lanka 900 years later. It moved around the country, following the vicissitudes of Sri Lankan history (even a tooth-napping by raiding Indians) until it found a resting place in this temple in 1687.