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Escape the hustle

Muttiah Muralitharan
Come to Kandy for some much-needed R&R

Kandy is very special to me. I was born there and I studied in the town from the time I was six to 18. I learned my cricket there. Kandy really has the feel of a hometown. It is not fast-paced like Colombo, which is why when I want a break from Colombo, I head up to Kandy to relax. It is one of Asia's great historic cities, surrounded by natural beauty. We Kandyans are very proud of the town.

If you're visiting Kandy, you must see the Temple of the Tooth on the Kandy Lake in the centre of the town. It is very popular and the temple is really beautiful. The best time to visit the temple is during the Poya full moon festival every month. In the evenings on those days, there is a Kandyan dance show with traditional drums, dresses and dancing in the town. We also have a very nice landscaped botanical garden just outside, in Peradeniya. It's full of different types of plants and trees from across the island and South Asia.

I don't play golf but Kandy is home to the island's best golf course, at Victoria. I know Kumar [Sangakkara] always likes to play 18 holes there on his days off. Even otherwise, it is nice to stay in the quiet hills that surround the town.

You can take a guide for long walks. There are many trekking routes following the Mahaweli river in the Knuckles mountain range. The elephant orphanage at Pinnawala is a short journey from Kandy, and a visit there is a wonderful way to learn about our elephants and feed them and bathe with them. Many tourists enjoy it.

My favourite cricket moment in Kandy came against England in 2007. I took Paul Collingwood's wicket at the Asgiriya ground as my 709th to break Shane Warne's record and become the leading Test wicket-taker. To complete this in my hometown, in front of my family and friends, was special.

Since the Pallekele Stadium only opened for the 2011 World Cup, I only played one international match there. It is a beautiful ground with a good sporting wicket and something in it for both batsmen and bowlers. The local crowds will always come in to support the Sri Lankan team.

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