Temple of the Tooth in Kandy (Sri Dalada Maligawa) is the place where the most famous relic of the Buddha Tooth is located. Kandy is the second largest city in Sri Lanka, picturesquely situated among green hills, until 1815 the capital of the last Kingdom of Kandy. It has been placed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
The Tooth Temple in Kandy is a part of a palace complex inhabited by successive rulers of the Kingdom of Kandy and it was established in 1595 as a special place for the holiest relic, signs of the highest royal power. To this day, it is the most important place for Buddhist pilgrimes and one of the most visited places in Sri Lanka.
Every day, the white statue of the Buddha towering over the city and emerging from the fog, welcome the sun rising over the hills. Relaxed, from his eyelids half-closed, he looks towards to Kandy Lake and the Tooth Temple in Kandy, where the most important for the Buddhist relic is kept, the Tooth of Buddha.
The road to the main entrance of the temple leads through a moat limited by two decorative walls, in which there is a small stone bridge.
Then a narrow corridor, decorated with beautiful frescoes of lotus flowers, floral ornaments and a dozen of male silhouettes, leads us to the lower floor of the temple.
Under a roof maintained by 20 stone richly carved pillars there is “Diggey” ,fenced with a gold balustrade.
Entries are protected by two pairs of ivory tusks, two stone lions, and a large dragon watching over a richly decorated silver door. This is a special passage to the holy relics intended exclusively for the use of Buddhist monks and officials.
Before the “Diggey” there is the so-called “Drumming area”. Here musicians in traditional costumes celebrate the ritual ceremonies of the temple. These rituals have been observed from the earliest times and are held three times a day:
- Morning 5.30am – 7.00am
- Forenoon 9.30am – 11.00am
- Evening 6.30 pm – 8.00 pm
The tooth relic is stored on the upper floor in the part called “Vadahitina Maligawa”.
A carved door lavishly decorated with silver and ivory, opens to the Inner Sanctuary. Huge tusks and bulletproof glass protect the golden reliquary located here. Inside, there are seven smaller cases, and only the smallest ones, the eighth, contains the relic of the sacred tooth. This room also has a reliquary used during the Esala Perahera procession. The original reliquary was used last in 1928. There are three different keys to eight caskets; one is kept by the administrator of the temple, and the other two by the main monks of the Buddhist monasteries of Malwattha and Asgiriya in Kandy.
The belivers and tourists can see the relic placed in the golden reliquary, honor it and bring offering it in the form of flowers and donations during the ceremonies here, at the background of traditional Sinhala music.
Going down the staircase to the right, we reach Pattirippuwa, where now there is a library with well preserved ancient Sinhalese manuscripts stored on palm leaves.
This octagonal building with a characteristic roof and balcony was used in the past by the king during his speeches to the public.
The three-storey new building, which can be reached from the ground floor of the temple, is a place where you can find a collection of Buddha images offered by several Asian countries, including China, Japan, Korea, Thailand, Taiwan and India. In the Temple of the Tooth Museum located here, you can trace the entire history of the Buddha’s tooth depicted in the paintings in the hall and see destruction in the temple caused by terrorist attacks by the Tamil Tigers in January 1998.
The Royal Audience Hall
This is another part of the palace complex, completed in 1784. This open structure with 64 richly carved wooden columns and a roof supported by them is an example of the sculptural craftsmanship of the Kingdom of Kandy. It was a place where the king met his ministers and performed daily administrative tasks. The king also used these places as a court, hence the other name this place is the High Court.
Museum of the Royal Elephant
It is a museum dedicated to the elephant, who was carrying the relic of the Buddha’s tooth during the procession of Esala Perahera for several dozen years . His crafted image, as well as the collection of photographs by Tusker Raji, has been on exposition in this museum since December 1989.
There is a royal palace called “Maligawa”, to the north of the temple, which was burnt and destroyed several times, and it was the residence of the local kings until 1815, when Sri Lanka became a British colony. Currently, there is an archaeological museum in the preserved parts of the palace.
Kandy Lake (Bogambara Wewa)
It is an artificial lake created in 1807, located in the next temple and in the center of Kandy. it is surrounded by a decorative wall called “Walamula Bamma” (Clouds Wall). In the Center of the Lake there is an island named “Kiri Samudraya”, on which the royal summer house was located.It was connected with the palace by a secret tunnel. On the right next to the temple there is Queen’s Bath where supposedly the wives of King Sri Wickram Rajasinh took baths together. This place was turned into a library when Ceylon was a British colony.
Kandy Esala Perahera:
The biggest and the most famous buddist festival in Sri Lanka (every year, July/August)