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Dalada Maligawa is also known as the Temple of Tooth. It houses the tooth relic of Lord Buddha, the founder of Buddhism. The temple is located in Kandy, a city that is around 115 km away from the capital city Colombo. Kandy was an independent monarchy and also the last capital of Sri Lankan kings. The sacred tooth relic rests at the royal palace complex of King Wimaladharmasuriya (1590-1604). History reveals that whoever holds the relic qualifies to govern the country. Hence it has played a vital role in the country’s political arena. The tooth relic was brought to Sri Lanka by Prince Dantha and Princess Hemamala from India. Today it remains as the highest venerated religious center for the Buddhists representing the live remains of their great philosopher, Lord Buddha.
Kandy Tooth Temple is recognized as a world heritage site by UNESCO, that attracts both Buddhists and Non-Buddhists from all over the world.
The main shrine complex can be accessed through the elegant frontispiece along with the bridge over the moat. Visitors and devotees gather in the open pillared two storied hall in the front of the temple complex. Daily rituals are performed in the temple as homage to the tooth relic, during service hours, amidst traditional music including beating of drums. A symbolic bathing of the sacred relic is conducted on Wednesdays, known as the Nanumura Mangalyaya. This ritual is performed with scented water and fragrant flowers where the water is believed to have healing powers and considered as holy. The daily worships are conducted by the venerable monks, in the inner chamber of the temple, thrice daily.
The inner walls of the temple building are decorated with paintings and the wooden pillars are beautified with the magnificent art of carving. The art and architecture of this religiously significant monument, symbolizes the rich history of Buddhist culture of Sri Lanka.
The temple building has undergone a number of constructions and destructions under the governance of Portuguese, Dutch and the British. In the recent past, it was also attacked by the LTTE terrorists in the year of 1998, which destroyed the grand entrance and few other sculptures. However, most of the damage is restored much similar to its original state, by an appointed restoration committee.
A museum with a rich collection of Buddhist artifacts and other religious scriptures is situated inside the temple premises. These were gifted to Sri Lanka by various countries that had some lineage to Buddhism in ancient times. Visitors can get insights on the origin of Buddhism and its immense impact and influence on the global Buddhist population.
The event that colors the Kandy streets with its glory and splendor, is the Esala Perahera, also known as the Festival of the Tooth. This historical ceremony is conducted to pay homage to the sacred tooth relic in the months of July-August. Cultural music and dance performances, with elephants in elegant costumes, and the ceremonial tusker carrying the Sacred Casket are significant segments of this procession. Thousands of local and foreign visitors target this festival for their trip to Kandy to witness this spectacular event.
Photography and videography is prohibited inside the temple premises and all visitors are advised to come in decent attire. Your trip to Kandy is incomplete without visiting the Temple of Tooth, a serene heritage site of Sri Lanka.