Temple of Tooth Relic Kandy, Sri Lanka

Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic Kandy

Temple of the tooth relic better known as “Sri Dalada Maligawa”.

The Holy Temple of the Tooth at Kandy is the prime monument, the supreme edifice not only of the Sinhalese Buddhist populace of Sri Lanka but also of the Buddhists all over the world. It is within this magnificent temple that sacred Danta Dhatu (Sinhala -Tooth Relic of Buddha) the palladium of the Sinhalese Buddhist nation is enshrined. The three events of the greatest importance in the glorious history of Sri Lanka, since that of the arrival of Vanga (modern Bengal) Prince Vijaya (from North eastern India) in 543 BC, are associated with Buddhism taking root, sprout and flourish in Sri Lanka: the introduction of Buddhism by Arahath Mahinda (from Magadha, modern Bihar, India) during the reign of King Devanampiya Tissa (307-267 AD) at Mihintale, the planting of Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi tree brought in by Buddhist nun Sangamitta (from Magadha, modern Bihar, India) in also during the reign of King Devanampiya Tissa at Anuradhapura; the bringing in of the Sacred Tooth Relic of Buddha by Kalinga (modern Orissa) Princess Hemamala and Prince Dantha (from central eastern India) during the reign of King Sirimeghavana (303-331 AD). While the ancient kingdoms of northern and north-eastern India had been instrumental in nurturing the culture and heritage of Sri Lanka, the marauding Dravidian forces from Southern India wreaked havoc and caused the decline and fall of the glorious capitals of ancient Sri Lanka, Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa, the supreme cultural attractions of Sri Lanka Holidays.


History Of The Tooth Relic Temple In Kandy

The origin of the temple is dating back to many centuries and it was first built by King Vimala Dharma Sooriya 2 (1684-1706 AD). Originally it had been a three-storied building. But, the threes storied building was destroyed by Portuguese and later King Sri Vira Parakrama (1706-1739 AD) had constructed the two-storied building at the site. Today the tooth relic is residing on the upper floor of this building. The holiest temple in Buddhism a profound religion of non-violence (even in self-defense) & compassion-was ironically embellished by the cruelest & most tyrannical king ever reigned in the history of the island. Sri Wickrama Rajasinha, the last king of Lanka (1797-1815), who was betrayed & thus in turn the island nation of Sri Lanka, to the British colonialists, by the Kandyan nobles.

Today the temple is not considered as merely a temple with religious importance but also a place that showcases some of the most elegant art and crafts of Kandyan Kingdom. The temple is decorated with beautiful wooden carvings and paintings. It also houses a large number of Buddha statues. Don’t forget to have a look at the library of the temple. It houses some of the oldest literary works of Sri Lanka.

There are several Ola manuscripts, which are more than a thousand years old. Temple of tooth is declared as a world heritage site by UNESCO due to its historical and religious importance.


The History of the Sacred Tooth Relic prior to arrival in Sri Lanka

According to the historical information’s when Buddha passed away in 6th century B.C in Kusinara (India), this resulted in some discontent among Hindu priests in King Kalinga, fearing that they lose respect among the community. Hindu priests reported the incident to the King Paandu, who also believed in Hinduism and was against Buddhism. After hearing that King Guhasiva stopped to venerate God and started worshiping the Tooth relic, King ordered his army to bring the Tooth relic and destroy it. It is said that King Paandu was also converted to Buddhism, through a miracle, as the Tooth Relic was brought to the city.

Another Hindu king called Ksheeradara from the nearby kingdom, hearing the King Paandu also started believing in Buddhism, decided to attack King Paandu in Palaus. He decided to invade the Kingdom of King Paandu but they defeated and king Ksheeradara was killed before arriving Palaus.

Prince Dantha from the region of Udeni, who had believed in Buddhism, got married to the daughter of King Guhasiva. In the meantime, son of the King Ksheeradara had organized a huge army aiming to take revenge king Guhasiva and destroy the tooth of Buddha.

Before impending defeat against the arriving army, the king asked his daughter to take the Tooth relic to Sri Lanka, which was safe for the sacred element. Princess Hemamala hid the Tooth relic in her hair and came to Sri Lanka disguising as pilgrims with prince Dantha. After the journey from India, the couple landed in Lankapattana (North-West Sri Lanka).  It is said that Buddha had chosen Sri Lanka as the divine country for Buddhism; it was one reason for the arrival of tooth relic to the island.

Kithsirimewan the king of the Island received the Tooth of Buddha with great respect. King built the temple of the tooth relic within the royal palace complex and enshrines the tooth relic in the palace. The Esala ceremony ( Festival or Perahera) in which the tooth relic was taken out of the temple of the tooth relic and take around the city in a procession, it was started during the rule of king Kithsirimewan. This annual event is still being done in the country, and one of the most beautiful processions in the world.


Hewisi Madapaya (Drummer’s Hall)

The stone dragon arch open up once again into a tunnel like entrance called Ambarawa. The tunnel is designed in the shape of traditional bullock cart & the walls are decorated with traditional lotus floral designs & paintings of devotees entering to worship Sacred Tooth Relic. The tunnel leads us to the Hewisi Mandapaya meaning Drummers Hall in Sinhala. The long open Drummers hall with 16 stone pillars mounting a wooden high roof provides access to all the chambers & other buildings. On both sides of the Drummers hall are stairs leading up to the 1st floor.


Tusker Raja Museum

Also accessed from the temple of the Tooth are Raja tusker Museum, The Aluth Maligawa and The Sri Dalada Museum. The much adored elephant which had the honour of carrying the Tooth Relic casket in the Kandy Esala Perahera pageant for half a century was offered to the temple by a Buddhist philanthropist when Raja was very young. The beast had been intelligently conscious of the honor, his pride & decorum had been very much obvious & right on the button & well up on show during the Kandy Esala Perahera pageant. To witness such class & decorum in a beast was an enlightening to the hilt. Adored Raja was 85 when he died in 1988 after a half century of devoted service to the temple. Remains of the Saddanta cast (meaning Titan class in Sinhala, among other features, that seven part of its body-four legs, trunk, penis & tail-touch the ground when it stand upright) Tusker elephant is stuffed & erected. Some skillful Sinhalese artists took great pains & made no stone upturned to make the legendary beast stands tall with its head high, albeit in a glass cubicle.


Relics of Buddha

To the Buddhists, the supreme pilgrimage sites of Sri Lanka Holidays are where the relics of Buddha are enshrined. Beside the Holy Temple of the Tooth, Kandy, there are other pilgrimage sites in Sri Lanka where Relics of Buddha are enshrines.

  • Ruwanweliseya Stupa – Sacred Tooth relics
  • Mahiyanganaya Raja maha Viharaya – Sacred Hair relic and the Greeva (neckbone) relic
  • Seruwila Raja Maha Vihara – Sacred Lalata (forehead) relic
  • Thuparamaya, Anuradapura – Sacred right tooth relic of Buddha.
  • Somawathiya (Dagoba) – Sacred right tooth relic of Buddha
  • Tissa Maha Dagoba, Tissamaharamaya – Sacred tooth relic & forehead bone relic
  • Muthiyanganaya – Sacred Kesha Datu, hair relic & Mutukuda datu (solidified sweat) of Buddha
  • Girigadu Seya at Thiriyaya – Sacred Kesha (Hair) Dathu relic. These first ever relic, a lock of hair, was offered (within seven days of his enlightenment in 6th century BC) by Buddha to devotees. The receivers, two northern Indian brothers called Thappasu & Balluka, merchants by profession brought the relics from India to Sri Lanka
  • Senanayakaramaya Stupa, Madampe – Kesha (Hair) relic donated by Bangladesh to Sri Lanka in the year 1959.
  • (Modern) The seemamalakaya or Gangarama Temple – Kesha (Hair) relic donated by Bangladesh to Sri Lanka on 27th July 2007.

Temple of the Tooth Relic dress code

What is the Temple of the Tooth dress code? is one of the most common questions of most of our foreign customers, because the tooth relic temple is part of most Sri Lanka road trips. There is no special dress code to follow when you visit the tooth relic temple. But you need to stick to the proper temple dress code.


What is the tooth temple Kandy ceremony time?

There are 3 ceremonies daily at the tooth relic temple and the tooth temple Kandy ceremony time as below

  • 06.00 AM morning ceremony or throwaway
  • 12.00 PM midday ceremony
  • 06.30 PM evening ceremony

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