Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic

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Timings : Sun - Sat 05:30 AM - 08:00 PM: Puja Timings: Morning: 5.30 AM -6.45 AM, 9.30 AM-11:00 AM; Evening: 6.30 PM -8:00 PM

Entry Fee : Foreigners LKR 1500.00; SAARC Countries LKR 750.00

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Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, Kandy Overview

Sri Dalada Maligawa is the Sinhalese name for this holy shrine. Famously called Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, it is touted to be the most sacred Buddhist temple in the whole world. It houses the tooth of Buddha nestled in a golden chamber and is within the premises of the royal palace complex (formerly a princely state). Kandy is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it is said that whichever state holds the tooth relic, maintains an essential place in the governance of the country.  

The ambience inside is exceptionally cosy and welcoming; it enthrals with the smells of fresh flowers, and coconut oil lit candles and lamps. Within the temple, the daily pujas are carried out in the ground floor consisting of the Pallemaluwa. On Wednesdays, the bathing of the relic with a herbal preparation (scented water and fragrant flowers) takes place. It is called the Nanumura Mangallaya. This holy water is of substantial spiritual reverence and is distributed among the devotees. 

Ardent believers flock in large numbers wearing robes with offerings of flowers and lamps. The temple grounds spread out to many hectares and has all tourist spots under one head. Museum, Royal gardens, royal palace, Ambience hall, Mahamaluwa, meditation grounds, moonstone and the Kandy lake overlooking an array of florals – these and many more sights are the reasons for its ingenuity and grandeur!

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Kandy Annual Festival at Temple of the Tooth

Esala Perahera is Kandy’s annual religious festival to celebrate the arrival of Gauthama Buddha’s tooth relic from India to Sri Lanka. It is celebrated during July/August to commemorate the first teaching of Buddha. Dancers, jugglers, musicians, fire-breathers, crackers and heavily decorated elephants star the occasion. It spans across ten days in honour of the Sacred Tooth Relic and the guarding Gods - Natha, Vishnu, Kataragama and Goddess Pattini. Esala Perahera is as a prayer for rain; it begins with the cutting of a tender jack tree, blowing of the conch and proceeds until a full moon night in August. The city of Kandy is lit and has pujas and worships happening in full swing. It marks the best time to be here.

Tips to Visit the Temple of Tooth

  • Wear clothes that cover your legs and your shoulders, and remove your shoes.
  • Cover your feet in socks to avoid burning your feet while walking barefoot.
  • Act with utmost decorum as the temple sees thousands of worshippers of different nationalities to pay their respects - tourists and backpackers, Chinese tour groups and Thai monks.
  • There is an elevator facility to enable easy access to the old and disabled people.
  • There is a ticket vending kiosk for SAARC and a foreigner visitors
  • One is expected to leave 100 LKR donation to keep your shoes

History of Temple of Tooth

The sacred tooth of Gautama Buddha was in Kalinga (Odisha, India) until it was then smuggled to the Lanka island by Princess Hemamali and Prince Dantha, on strict orders from the King. Within Sri Lanka, the tooth relic moved through several locations. However, the present-day temple of the tooth was built by Vira Narendra Sinha near the royal palace. Hence most parts of the temple once served as a part of the royal house; for instance, the Pattirippuwa, or Octagon used to be where the King addressed the courtyard and the countrymen who visited the King with their problems. Since its existence, the temple has seen various damages done to it but was restored each time fully. Be it in the 18th century by the colonials at war - Portuguese and Dutch or in the recent history were it faced criticism and from the Sri Lankan Hindu Tamils, bombings by Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna in 1989 and by Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in 1998. The latest of additions to the structure include a golden canopy over the main shrine, built in 1987 by Prime Minister Ranasinghe Premadasa.

Architecture of Temple of Tooth

The temple is topped with golden roofs and houses many chambers within. The insides of the ceilings are painted red, and the oriental walls are marbled in white. The colour scheme attracts human eyes, and it appears jazzy even on a dull day. This complex structure sees tourists in huge numbers. During puja, the chamber housing the tooth relic is open for public viewing. It is in a dagoba-like golden casket which holds six smaller dagobas one inside the other. The outsides of the temple are painted in red and white; while the interior sees columns and roofs carved in exotic and sculpted in wood, lacquer and ivory. The pathway to the temple has exceptional woodwork on the ceiling and pillars leading to an art gallery. A brick walls shelter the moat leading to the lake, and it is called the water waves. The main entrance gate Mahawahalkada has a moonstone called Sandakada Pahana on its footsteps.

Timings and Entry Fee

The temple is open throughout the week from 05:30 AM - 08:00 PM.
It is best to visit the temple during the puja timings in order to fully see the spectacle of offerings. The timigns are as follows:

Morning: 5.30 AM -6.45 AM, 9.30 AM-11:00 AM

Evening: 6.30 PM -8:00 PM

Entry Fee depends on the nationality of the visitor. 

Foreigners LKR 1500.00; SAARC Countries LKR 750.00

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