15-16 March 2013....Colombo...Kandy
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This whirlwind visit to the current capital and one of the ancient capitals of Sri Lanka was a port stop and excursion on the M/V Aegean Odyssey, promoted as Voyages to Antiquity, during March of 2013. It was a long and heart-stopping bus ride on narrow, twisty roads from Colombo to Kandy in the central mountains, but well worth it.
The site of Colombo, with its natural harbor, was known to the Greeks and Romans well over 2000 years ago. Arab traders started to settle there in the 8th century CE. Portuguese explorers landed in 1505 CE, established a trading post, expelled the Muslims, and built a fort in 1517. The Dutch took the area in the mid-17th century and held the coast until ousted by the British c. 1800. The British were interested in Colombo as a military outpost rather than a trading center and were responsible for the planning and construction of much of the present city. Even today, the influence of the Portuguese, the Dutch and the British is clearly visible in Colombo's architecture, names, clothing, food, language and attitudes. Buildings from all three eras stand as reminders of the turbulent past of Colombo. The city today is the commercial capital of Sri Lanka, with the administrative capital nearby at Sri Jayawardanapura Kotte.
The city of Kandy was founded around the middle of the 14th century CE and the Kingdom of Kandy emerged in 1521. A complicated history of alliances and rebellions between this last Sri Lankan Kingdom and the Portuguese and Dutch filled the 17th and 18th centuries. The Kandyan Kings stumbled on until final dissolution at the hands of the British in 1815. Their most notable achievement may have been the acquisition of the sacred Relic of the Tooth of Buddha by King Vimaladharmasurya in 1595—the protector of this Relic was considered divinely appointed as ruler of the land. Palaces and monasteries were built for the Relic, the final one being in Kandy, where it remains today; and the luxurious, centuries-old Palace is a pilgrimage site for Buddhists worldwide as well as being a World Heritage Site.
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WORLD HERITAGE SITE
Sacred City of Kandy