After a bus back from Galle to Colombo, I managed to snag a seat in the popular observation carriage on the train to Kandy, with its well known scenic ride up through the hills. My seat was on the aisle though, so I don’t have much in the way of photographic evidence of this.
Kandy was the last capital of the Sinhalese kings, who moved their base here in 1592, to escape attacks on coastal areas from European powers. The landscape makes the area highly defensible and the Kingdom of Kandy remained independent long after other parts of Sri Lanka fell under colonial rule, before the British finally deposed the king, with the connivance of his nobles, in 1815.
The ‘sacred’ epithet derives from the presence of the Temple of the Tooth, a highly venerated place of Buddhist pilgrimage. The relic of a tooth of the Buddha came to Sri Lanka from India around the 4th century AD, according to legend, and had many homes on the island over the centuries before ending up here.
The Temple of the Tooth itself is in a small courtyard, closely surrounded by other buildings, making it hard to see as a whole. It does have some great decoration though. Only the outside of the structure is visible: the relic itself is kept in the upper storey the door to which is opened at certain times for the faithful to get a glimpse of the casket in which it is kept, the relic itself not actually being shown.
Once a year there is a great festival in which the relic is paraded on the back of an elephant. One of the former elephants to whom this honour was given has a small museum in the temple grounds in which he appears taxidermied. When he died in 1988, after around fifty years of service, a day of national mourning was declared.
The world heritage site encompasses both the Temple of the Tooth, along with its subsidiary temples dedicated to Hindu gods and the remains of the associated royal palace, including a wonderful audience hall with carved wood columns. Most of the current structures date from the nineteenth century.
While I was resting in the shade of the hall, a large troupe of monkeys came through, playing, fighting, clambering on the historic structure and in one case, tugging at my skirt hem.
For the Lego model, I decided on this part of the royal palace (which now holds a not very thrilling museum)
Lack of parts meant I had to just concentrate on the central section: