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Kandy is the second largest city in Sri Lanka with a population of around 125,000. The city is in the country’s central highlands, an area of protected national parks at the heart of the island.  Kandy is home to one of the most sacred sites in the Buddhist world, the Temple of the Tooth, believed to contain one of the Buddha’s original teeth. Legend has it that the tooth was smuggled to Sri Lanka by a princess, who hid the relic in her hair ornament as she escaped from India. It was handed to the King of Sri Lanka, and over time the belief grew that whoever possessed it had the divine right to rule. The tooth’s present-day resting place was constructed in the 18th century by Vira Narendra Sinha, the last Sinhalese king of Sri Lanka. In 1988 the temple was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Behind the temple lies Kandy Lake, which was built by King Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe in 1807. In the middle of the lake is a small island known as Diyathilaka Mandapaya, where it is said the king kept his harem. The lake is now host a variety of tropical wildlife, including Water Monitors, close cousins of the Komodo dragon.

Another Royal Landmark to explore is the Royal Botanic Gardens, which were constructed in 1371 by the Sinhalese monarchy and later claimed by the British. Within the park’s 146 acres of land, there are over 4,000 species of plant. The highlight is the orchid house, which contains the world’s largest orchid, the Tiger orchid.

Whilst walking around the city, it’s worth checking out the spice market and it’s brightly coloured stalls. Many of the spices we use today were once endemic to Sri Lanka, such as Ceylon cinnamon, Ceylon pepper, Ceylon cloves or Ceylon Cardamom.