The British Garrison Cemetery in Kandy, Sri Lanka

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The British Garrison Cemetery is a place of interest in Kandy Sri Lanka. It’s well worth visiting if you have time to explore Kandy on foot during your vacation in Sri Lanka. This post is about the cemetery, its location, history, and opening hours.

The British Garrison Cemetery, Kandy Sri Lanka.

Sorry it’s taken me so long to write this post.

I promised I’d write it because I wanted to share this place with you, it’s a “free thing to do in Kandy“, I already mentioned it briefy in that post, but I wanted to tell you a little more about the British Cemetery in Kandy.

It was a special experience visiting the cemetery, a glimpse into the past brought to life by a young guide. His name was Harsha, I wrote it down.

Kandy Sri Lanka British Cemetary

The Garrison Cemetery in Kandy

The British Garrison Cemetary is on the far side of Kandy Lake, past the Temple of the Tooth and a short walk up the hill.

The Garrison Cemetery Kandy, photos
The opening times for the Garrison Cemetery, 8 am to 6 pm, and admission was by donation at the time of our visit.

This simple plot of land is the final resting place of many men, women, and children from Colonial days. They died between 1822 and 1870. (This is when the cemetery closed, relatives of those already buried there were still admitted after that date.)

Life was hard back then, few of these Europeans had long lifespans or even made it to retirement.

British graves hostoric Kandy Sri Lanka
Names on the gravestones, Viner, Mathew, Wilson, Banner, I wonder if they have relatives alive today?

As we wandered around the tombs, reading inscriptions and checking dates, Harsha, previously busy sweeping, approached us and started telling us more about the cemetery.

Not only could he make out the words, many obscured by time, but he had memorised the inscriptions and dates of every one of the 195 headstones, tablets, obelisks and columns in the graveyard.

An impressive feat, and one worthy of a tip and a donation.

Famous British Garrison Cemetery Kandy Sri Lanka
Old graves at the cemetery in Kandy.

Among the inscriptions, we found snapshots of life in those days. Young men killed by wild elephants and in horse-related accidents, women and children brought down by fever, a sad number of infants who never saw their first birthdays.

grave famous cemetery in kandy sri lanka
Graves, in possibly the most famous cemetery in Sri Lanka.

We took many photos of the cemetery and enjoyed our visit. If you have some free time in Kandy this garrison cemetery is well worth a visit, it’s easy to walk to and is located just past the Temple of the Tooth.

The cemetery is preserved by volunteers and maintenance costs are covered by the UK Commonwealth War Graves Commission. It’s not a big ticket attraction, but if you’re in Kandy it’s well worth a stroll around the lake to find this little piece of Sri Lanka’s colonial past.

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About the author
Alyson Long
Alyson Long is a British medical scientist who jumped ship to chase dreams. A former Chief Biomedical Scientist at London's West Middlesex Hospital she started in website creation and travel writing in 2011. Alyson is a full-time blogger and travel writer, a published author, and owns several websites. World Travel Family is the biggest. A lifetime of wanderlust and over 6 years of full-time travel, plus a separate 12 month gap year, has given Alyson and the family some travel expert smarts to share with you on this world travel site. Today Alyson still travels extensively to update this site and continue her mission to visit every country, but she's often at home on her farm in Australia.

5 thoughts on “The British Garrison Cemetery in Kandy, Sri Lanka”

  1. I admired British rulers works, they are neat and deciplined. You have done tremendous works to our country, thank you

  2. Hi Alyson,

    We just left Kandy this morning after 5 smashing days there. We went to the cemetery yesterday morning and about half way round, we were approached by Harsha. I told him I’d read about him on your blog and showed it to him on my phone, he was over the moon :-). I took a picture of him for you. Will email it to you now. We’re just 2 weeks in to a 7 month round the world adventure. Your blog was a huge inspiration, thanks! Cara

  3. Amazing that Harsha memorized all of that information! Quite stunning really. Being killed by wild elephants I garner is not a fun way to go. My girlfriend visited Kandy 2 years ago; I just chilled in Colombo during the same time. Loved Sri Lanka. Gritty, fun and a pretty spot.

    Thanks so much for sharing the neat story and fascinating pictures with us!


    • Isn’t it Ryan, he was really nice too, typical of Sri Lankans, gorgeous people. I have a photo here of him and his address to send it to, but of course, we don’t have a printer, I really must send it.


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