Kandy

Kandy (kănˈdē) [key], city (1995 est. pop. 108,000), capital of Central prov., Sri Lanka, on the Kandy Plateau. Once the capital of the Sinhalese Kandyan kingdom, it is now a mountain resort and market center for an area producing tea, rubber, rice, and cacao. The main part of the city overlooks a scenic artificial lake built by the last king of Kandy in 1806. Near the lake is the Temple of the Tooth, said to house one of Buddha's teeth. This sacred relic, brought to Sri Lanka in the 4th cent. (reputedly by a princess who hid it in her hair), may have been destroyed (1560) by the Portuguese. The relic, which has made Kandy a pilgrimage and tourist attraction, is honored in the annual Esala Perahera pageant. Kandy is noted for such local handicrafts as reed and lacquer work and silver and brassware. Although the city's history dates back to the 5th cent. B.C., it did not become the capital of the Sinhalese kings until 1592. It was temporarily occupied by the Portuguese (16th cent.) and the Dutch (18th cent.); but, as a stronghold, it remained free until 1815, when the British captured it and exiled the last king to India. A palace, an art museum, and a library are the remnants of the royal period. In the suburb of Peradeniya is the Univ. of Sri Lanka (1942) and the famous botanical gardens, noted especially for their orchids.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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