In 2019, my partner and I made a round trip through Sri Lanka. During this journey, we also visited the Royal Botanical Garden of Kandy. The garden named Peradeniya, or the Royal Botanical Garden, is in my humble opinion one of the most alluring botanical gardens of Asia.
Kandy is a beautifully located town in the heart of Sri Lanka. The town lies about 500 meters (1,640 feet) above sea level in a valley around tropical mountains. The altitude, combined with Sri Lanka’s southern location, gives Kandy a Mediterranean like climate. With a long and rich history, Kandy is also the cultural heart of the country. The town is one of Sri Lanka’s largest cities with 120,000 inhabitants. Kandy is rich in cultural monuments and has been added to the UNESCO World Heritage list in 1988.
Next to the botanical garden, one of Kandy’s highlights is the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, the single most important temple of Sri Lanka. The temple has a golden roof and is home to the most important Buddhist relic in the world: one of Buddha’s tooth. During two daily ceremonies the tooth is displayed to an audience of Buddhists.
The Royal Botanical Garden of Kandy
It’s not just the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic that makes the journey to Kandy worth it. The botanical garden itself is a reason to set off on the winding roads through Sri Lanka’s mountains. The garden is about 58 hectares (146 acres) large and hosts more than 4,000 different sorts of plants. On three sides the garden borders Sri Lanka’s longest river: the Hahaveli river. This wildly raging jungle river makes a visit to the park extra spectacular.
The garden has a long history that dates back to 1371. The garden became a royal botanical garden during the rule of King Kirti Si (1747-1780) and was redesigned in its current form under British rule. Before COVID, the garden attracts over 1,2 million visitors per year which is substantially more than Kandy’s entire population.
My impression of the garden
When we visited the garden there were no crowds to be seen. That was probably because we visited Sri Lanka outside the country’s peak season (December to March). During our walk through the royal garden, we were able to view everything it has to offer. We spent a few hours in the garden and were most impressed by the three large Palm Avenues.
The botanical garden has three distinct palm avenues. The Cabbage Avenue, the Palmyra Avenue and the incredibly impressive Royal Palm Revenue. On both sides, this avenue is lined with large palm trees and at its end there is an even so impressive suspension bridge that spans over the wildly flowing rivers.
One of the special highlights in Kandy’s botanical garden is the Orchid’s House, has an impressive collection of orchids underneath its roof. Some of the world’s largest orchids are on display here and you can come very close to the entire operations. The staff is friendly and more than willing to give you an explanation on all flowers within the house.
In addition to the orchid house, you can find an the extensive fern garden on the grounds of the garden. Here you can see over 100 different fern species which are closely located to each other. Other highlights include the Java Fig Tree (Ficus Benjamins) and the garden’s bamboo collection. All over the park you can also see beautiful butterflies, some monkeys and also some snakes (which we enjoyed slightly less).
How to visit the botanical garden of Kandy?
The botanical garden is opened daily. There is a coffeeshop and a restaurant/ Both are opened daily from 10 AM in the morning until 5PM in the afternoon. When we visited the garden, the entrance fee for overseas visitors was 2,000 SLR (around 10 USD). The garden is maintained and managed by Sri Lanka’s department of National Botanic Gardens. You can find more information on their website: www.botanicgardens.gov.lk