It is the second-largest city of the island and the capital of Central Province of modern Sri Lanka. Its geographic location has made it a major transportation hub in the island: while Kandy being the gateway to the Central Highlands of Sri Lanka, the city can be reached by major motorways in every direction of the island. The railway line from Colombo, the sea port on the western coast runs via Kandy to the farthest point of Badulla in the Central Highlands. The main roads Colombo-Kandy and Kandy-Nuwara Eliya are two of the most scenic roads of Sri Lanka; Colombo-Kandy road passes through rubber plantations and rice paddies, Kandy-Nuwara Eliya road cuts through paddy fields and seamless tea plantations. Both roads claw their way up winding, rounding over the rings of hills. Currently feasibility studies are afoot for another highway between Colombo and Kandy via Kadawata and the scenic city of Katugastota.
The city of Kandy lies at an elevation of 465 metres (1,526 ft) above sea level. Its plan developed around two open spaces: an elongated square, at the end of which are the administration buildings of the old capital, and an artificial lake that is quadrangular in form. A public garden adds to the openness of the city’s spatial organization.
On the north shore of the lake, which is enclosed by a parapet of white stone dating to the beginning of the 19th century, are the city’s official religious monuments, including the Royal Palace and the Temple of the Tooth, known as the Dalada Maligawa (daḷadā māligāva). Reconstructed in the 18th century, the Dalanda Maligawa is built on a base of granite that was inspired by the temples of Sri Lanka’s former capital city, Anuradhapura. An array of materials (limestone, marble, sculpted wood, ivory, etc.) contribute to the richness of this temple. Throughout this small holy city, a number of recent Buddhist monasteries can be found.
Kandy has now grown out to encompass Peradeniya, home to the University of Peradeniya and the Botanical Gardens, Katugastota to the north, and east to Kundasale, Tennekumbura and Gurudeniya.
Kandy is located in the mountainous and thickly forested interior of the island. The city is located in between multiple mountain ranges including the Knuckles mountain range and the Hanthana Mountain Range, giving the city an elevation of 500 metres (1,600 ft) above sea level. It lies adjacent to the artificial Kandy Lake and south of Udawatta Kele Sanctuary.
With Kandy located in the centre of the island and in a high elevation, the city has a relatively wetter and cooler temperatures than that of the tropical climate of the rest of the country, especially the coastal regions. The city has its dry season from December through to April. From May through to July and December to January the region experiences its monsoon season, during this time the weather is rough and unstable. The island being in the northern hemisphere gives Kandy it coldest month in January and its hottest in July. From March through the middle of May is the intermonsonsoonal period, during this time there is light rain and strong humidity. The humidity is generally between 70% to 79%.