Kandy is a major city in Sri Lanka located in the Central Province. It was the last capital of the ancient kings’ era of Sri Lanka. The city lies in the midst of hills in the Kandy plateau, which crosses an area of tropical plantations, mainly tea. Kandy is both an administrative and religious city and is also the capital of the Central Province. Kandy is the home of the Temple of the Tooth Relic (Sri Dalada Maligawa), one of the most sacred places of worship in the Buddhist world. It was declared a world heritage site by UNESCO in 1988.
The city and the region has been known by many different names and versions of those names. Some scholars suggest that the original name of Kandy was Katubulu Nuwara located near present Watapuluwa. However, the more popular historical name is Senkadagala or Senkadagalapura, officially Senkadagala Siriwardhana Maha Nuwara (meaning ‘great city of Senkadagala of growing resplendence’), generally shortened to ‘Maha Nuwara’. According to folklore, this name originated from one of the several possible sources. One being the city was named after a brahmin with the name Senkanda who lived in a cave nearby, and another being a queen of Vikramabahu III was named Senkanda, and after a coloured stone named Senkadagala. The Kingdom of Kandy has also been known by various names. The English name Kandy, which originated during the colonial era, is derived from an anglicised version of the Sinhala Kanda Uda Rata (meaning the land on the mountain) or Kanda Uda Pas Rata (the five counties/countries on the mountain). The Portuguese shortened this to “Candea”, using the name for both the kingdom and its capital. In Sinhala, Kandy is called Maha nuwara, meaning “Great City” or “Capital”, although this is most often shortened to Nuwara.
Historical records suggest that Kandy was first established by the Vikramabahu III (1357–1374 AD), who was the monarch of the Kingdom of Gampola, north of the present city, and named Senkadagalapura at the time.