What makes Kandy so much important a destination in your travel plans? It’s the place to witness The Kandy Esala Perahera (July/August) which is the biggest cultural event of Sri Lanka. It’s a mighty ancient Kingdom declared as a UNESCO world heritage site. It’s home to the most sacred shrine of the Buddhist World; The Temple of the Tooth. It’s the ideal base in central highlands to visit the Pinnewala Elephant Orphanage, Udawattakele Royal Forest Sanctuary, Royal Botanical Garden in Peradeniya and – okay, okay, we understand your enthusiasm but have you considered how you to go there? There is a total distance of 120 km for you to contemplate, maybe not much for a seasoned traveller like you, but still it is essential you determine the best means of transportation for the journey.
For the 120km trip, you have several alternatives; the rails, the road or by air. Air travel is highly expensive, but it is quicker and more convenient if you are in the middle of a tight schedule. For the road, you can either hire your own taxi (car/van/bus/Tuktuk) or use public transport (bus only), private or state owned. However, hailing a cab can turn out to be quite expensive rather than casually getting into a regular bus. Rails are the cheapest and offer you the best close range scenery en route.
Colombo to Kandy by Air
Cinnamonair Air Taxi service to Kandy costs nearly 130USD per person per one way trip, yet it is the quickest and treats you to the best aerial view of the hinterland greenery. Cessna type luxury amphibian aircraft lift off from BIA, Katunaike or from Water’s Edge, S. J. Kotte. There are two landing options; Kandy Polgolla Reservoir or Kandy Victoria Reservoir. Of them, Polgolla Reservoir is only about 6km from Kandy City Centre. The flight distance is less than 100km.
For bookings, flight schedules and fares visit http://www.cinnamonair.com/destinations.html
Colombo to Kandy on the road
You have to use The A1 highway for this, which begins at Colombo Fort. It passes through Peliyagoda, Kelaniya, Kiribathgoda, Mahara, Kadawatha, Kirillawala, Imbulgoda, Balummahara, Miriswaththa, Yakkala, Weediyawaththa, Thihariya, Nittambuwa, Pasyala, Wewaldeniya, Danovita, Warakapola, and Ambepussa.
At Ambepussa, the A6 Highway branches off the A1, heading towards Kurunegala. The A1 continues east, passing Tholangamuwa, Udukumbura, Nelundeniya, Yattogoda, Galigamuwa, Ambanpitiya, Ranwala, Kegalle, Meepitiya, Karandupana, Molagoda, Uthuwankanda, Anwarama, Mawanella, Beligammana, Hingula, Kadugannawa, Pilimathalawa, Kiribathkumbura, and Peradeniya to reach Kandy.
You can hire a suitable vehicle (or several as the need arise) or use public transport for this. Standard buses available for the general public are cheaper, but you would find it bit cramped inside, especially if you are travelling heavy. It can become oppressive too when crowded.
Better select an air conditioned one always, but take care to have a good look at the interior before you settle down to enjoy the ride. Some buses are pathetic within. Travel time would be less than four hours.
National Transport Commission [ http://www.ntc.gov.lk/timetable.html ]
Hiring a taxi is a better option since you have the vehicle all to yourself. It can prove out to be quite convenient too when you reach Kandy and start visiting places of interest in the vicinity. Having your own vehicle saves you lot of breath, time and money.
It is an uncomfortably shaky, jittery, rickety ride but many locals go Kandy all the way by Tuktuk. Because of its small wheels, you feel the presence of every pebble they go over on the road. It is also bit slow, not allowed in Highways but relatively cheap and nice to cover short distances once you are in Kandy. We advise you to compare travel fare of at least 5 Tuktuks before making a decision. They vary, greatly.
Colombo to Kandy by Rails
In scenic beauty, this mode of commuting is only second to air travel. Always reserve your seat in an intercity train though it is bit expensive. Standard trains are slower and tend to be crowded. Better if you can obtain a place in the observation saloon.
Starting from Colombo Fort, you would travel the Main Railway Line via Ragama and the Up Country track would start at Polgahawela. Then at Pera, the track would divert to Matale line. Following would be the key stations you would encounter.
Polgahawela railway station
Distance from Fort station: 73.8 km
Contact phone Number: 037-2243271
Panaleeya railway station
Distance from Fort station: 77.8 km
Tismalpola railway station
Distance from Fort station: 78.9 km
Yatagama railway station
Distance from Fort station: 82.5 km
Rambukkana railway station
Distance from Fort station: 84.4 km
Contact phone Number: 035-2265271
Kadigamuwa railway station
Distance from Fort station: 90.2 km
Gangoda railway station
Distance from Fort station: 93.8 km
Ihalakotte railway station
Distance from Fort station: 96.0 km
Balana railway station
Distance from Fort station: 101.0 km
Kadugannawa railway station
Distance from Fort station: 105.5
Contact phone Number: 081-2571271
Pilimatalawa railway station
Distance from Fort station: 109.4 km
Peradeniya railway station Here the Up Country Line diverts to Matale Track.
Distance from Fort station: 114.8 km
Contact phone Number: 081-2388271
Sarasaviuyana railway station
Distance from Fort station:115.6 km
Contact phone Number: 081-2388282
Kandy railway station
Distance from Fort station: 120.7 km
Contact phone Number: 081-2222271
Selecting the optimum mode of travel for this journey mostly depends on your requirements. On our part we suggest you reserve a comfortable intercity train to Kandy and after you get there, to hire a tuk-tuk to visit the city’s hotspots.