If you ever end up in Kandy, these are a few things that you should add to your itinerary, to help you get a good sense of this busy and vibrant city.
As we drove through the hill country of Matale (which translates to ‘my earth’) we stopped for lunch at a spice garden to see plants such as curry leaves, cinnamon bark, vanilla pods, nutmeg shells, cardamom, turmeric bulbs and cocoa trees, and learn about how important all these spices and herbs are for health and wellbeing as well as being integral ingredients in Sri Lankan cuisine.
When we arrived in Kandy there was no time to unpack or rest! We didn’t have a long stay in this city so we had to crack on and see the sights. We took a fragrant walk through the bustling Central Market, past bags of brightly coloured spices of chilli, turmeric and cinnamon, hanging in long plastic tubes. There were jam-packed stalls of fresh fruit and vegetables, packets of sweet-smelling incense and stallholders with overflowing white buckets full of rice, grains and beans.
We went to the home of a local rice farming family for dinner, not far out of the city, and our friendly hosts showed us how to make a few local dishes.
One of the fun snacks we all had a turn at making were crispy papadum-like snacks. A metal shape at the end of a handle and stick was used to dip into hot oil. We had seen these – with lots of different shapes – at a local market and wondered what they were! The metal is dipped into the wet batter and then gently lowered into the hot oil and fried for up to a minute. Chilli or cinnamon is added to the mixture, depending on whether you’re after a sweet or savoury snack. Our hosts also made string hoppers and a light and fluffy steamed cake called pitthu.
Early the following day we visited the Temple of the Tooth Relic for the morning viewing. The Buddhist temple, another one of Sri Lanka’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites, houses the important relic of the one of Buddha’s canine teeth. As music played and bells clanged, the small viewing window opened and crowds of pushy worshippers shuffled upstairs to get a glimpse of the golden stupa-shaped casket. Like a babushka doll, the casket has six smaller caskets inside with the smallest one holding the tooth relic.
To honour the relic, once a year the casket is removed from the shrine for the Esala Perahera festival – a parade through the city featuring elephants, drummers and Kandyan dancers. This is a special Buddhist event that has been celebrated for hundreds of years, to pay tribute to the relic.
To see more of this visit, click on the photo below to view the Flickr album.
Want a dose of vegeTARAian in your inbox?
Click here to subscribe to the weekly newsletter