Kandy (maha nuvara, , in Sinhala, கண்டி kaṇṭi, , in Tamil) is the English name for the city of Maha Nuvara (Senkadagalapura) in the centre of Sri Lanka. It is the capital of the Central Province and Kandy District. It lies in the midst of hills in the Kandy Valley which crosses an area of tropical plantations, mainly tea. Kandy is one of the most scenic cities in Sri Lanka. Kandy is of both an administrative and religious city. It is the capital of the Central Province (which encompasses the districts of Kandy, Matale and Nuwara Eliya) and also of the administrative district of Kandy.
Historical records suggest that Kandy was first established by the King Wickramabahu (1357-1374 CE) near the Watapuluwa area, north of the present city, and named Senkadagalapura at the time, although some scholars suggest the name Katubulu Nuwara may also have been used. The origin of the more popular name for the city, Senkadagala, could have been from a number of sources. These include naming after a brahmin named Senkanda who lived in a cave near the city, after a queen of King Wickramabahu named Senkanda or after a colored stone named Senkadagala.
In 1592 Kandy became the capital city of the last remaining independent kingdom in Sri Lanka after the coastal regions had been conquered by the Portuguese. Invasions by the Portuguese and the Dutch (16th, 17th and 18th century) and also by the British (most notably in 1803) were repelled. The last ruling dynasty of Kandy were the Nayaks of Kandy. Kandy preserved its independence until it finally fell to the British in 1815. The British deposed the king, Sri Vikrama Rajasinha, and all claimants to the throne, thus ending the last traditional monarchy of Sri Lanka, and replaced it with their monarchy.
As the capital, Kandy had become home to the relic of the tooth of the Buddha which symbolises a 4th-century tradition that used to be linked to royalty since the protector of the relic was seen fit to rule the land. Thus, the Royal Palace and the Temple of the Tooth were associated with the administrative and religious functions of the capital city. Even after its conquest by the British, Kandy has preserved its function as the religious capital of the Sinhalese and a place of pilgrimage for Buddhists, namely those belonging to the Theravada school.
Portuguese invasions in the 16th century and 17th century were entirely unsuccessful. The kingdom tolerated a Dutch presence on the coast until 1761, when Kirti Sri attacked and overran most of the coast, leaving only the heavily fortified Negombo intact. When a Dutch retaliatory force returned to the island in 1763, Sri abandoned the coastline and withdrew into the interior. When the Dutch continued to the jungles the next year, they were constantly harassed by disease, heat, lack of provisions, and Kandyan sharpshooters, who hid in the jungle and inflicted heavy losses on the Dutch. The Dutch launched a better adapted force in January of 1765, replacing their troops' bayonets with machetes and using more practical uniforms and tactics suited to speedy movement. They were initially successful, capturing the capital, but they took a deserted city, and the Kandyans withdrew to the jungles once more, refusing to engage in open battle. The Dutch, worn down by constant attrition, came to terms in 1766.
See also History of Sri Lanka
On the north shore of the lake, which is enclosed by a parapet of white stone dating to the beginning of the 19th century, are the city's official religious monuments, including the Royal Palace and the Temple of the Tooth, known as the Dalada Maligawa (daḷadā māligāva). Reconstructed in the 18th century, the Dalanda Maligawa is built on a base of granite that was inspired by the temples of Sri Lanka's former capital city, Anuradhapura. An array of materials (limestone, marble, sculpted wood, ivory, etc.) contribute to the richness of this temple. Throughout this small holy city, a number of recent Buddhist monasteries can be found.
Kandy has now grown out to encompass Peradeniya, home to the University of Peradeniya and the Botanical Gardens, Katugastota to the north, and east to Kundasale, Tennekumbura and Gurudeniya.
|Ethnicity||Population||% Of Total|
|Sri Lankan Moors||15,326||13.93|
|Sri Lankan Tamils||9,427||8.57|
|Other (including Burgher, Malay)||2,489||2.26|
The monumental ensemble of Kandy is an example of construction that associates the Royal Palace and the Temple of the Tooth (palace of the tooth relic). It was one of a series of temples built in the places where the relic, the actual palladium of the Sinhalese monarchy, was brought following the various relocations of the capital city.
The Palace of the Tooth relic, the palace complex and the holy city of Kandy are associated with the history of the dissemination of Buddhism. The temple is the product of the last peregrination of the relic of the tooth of Buddha and the testimony of a cult which continues to be practiced today.