Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, or Sri Dalada Maligawa as Sri Lankans call it, is one of the most sacred Buddhist religious places in Sri Lanka. It is where the tooth relic of Lord Buddha rests. It is situated at Kandy, by the side of the Bogambara Lake. After being transferred to several locations across the country from time to time, starting from the Anuradhapura Kingdom, Kandy is the last destination for the sacred tooth relic. The Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic is the sole reason why Kandy is named as a World Heritage Site.
Brief History of the Sacred Tooth Relic
Princess Hemamala and Price Dantha brought the Sacred Tooth Relic to Sri Lanka from Kalinga (a region in historical India). They were instructed by Princess Hemamala’s farther, King Guhasiva, in order to protect the Tooth Relic. They have landed Sri Lanka between 301 and 328, during the reign of Sirimeghavanna of Anuradhapura. The king constructed the Meghagiri Vihara (Isurumuniya in present) to contain the Sacred Tooth Relic. From then, the safety of the Tooth Relic is the responsibility of the king and the custody of it had become compulsory to be the king of Sri Lanka.
From time to time the Sacred Tooth Relic is placed in a number of places as the kings change and as the kingdoms change. Most of the kings had tended to keep it within their castle premises in order to protect it. The final destination of it, the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic in Kandy is built by King Vira Narendra Sinha. Again the temple was within the premises of the castle. It was further developed by other kings and the government up to now. Refer to Wikipedia if you would like to know more about the history of this place.
Procedures of the Temple
Today the responsibility of the Sacred Tooth Relic is on three parties. They are, Diyawadana Nilame (an officer), Malwathu Maha Viharaya & Asgiri Maha Viharaya. Each of them holds a key to the inner vault which the Tooth Relic is contained and all the three keys are needed to open the vault.
The temple was attacked two times in recent history. In 1989, ‘Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna’ bombed it and in 1998, the terrorist group, ‘Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam’ hit it with a massive bomb attack. The place was fully restored each time and it is after 1998 attack the vault of the Sacred Tooth Relic is changed.
Monks from Malwathu Maha Viharaya and Asgiri Maha Vihara worship the Sacred Tooth Relic three times a day, from 5.30 Am – 7.00 Am, 9.30 AM – 11.00 AM and 6.30 PM – 8.00 PM. This worshipping is called ‘thewawa’ in Sinhala. Most of the devotees tend to attend one of those ‘thewawa’ when they visit the Temple.
Other than the Sacred Tooth Relic itself, there are many more to see within this premises. They are the museum complex, Magul Maduwa, the great Raja the tusker, remains of the old castle, Ulupen Geya, etc.
Raja the Great Tusker
This is Raja, the great tusker who carried the sacred casket which contains the sacred tooth relic for 37 years in Esela Procession (an annual procession). He is the most celebrated and appreciated tusker in Sri Lanka. Raja was even named as a national treasure. He died in 1988 at the age of 75. After his death, his skin was carefully separated and stuffed with cotton to preserve him in the live form. He said to be an amazing tusker, who knew the importance of his duty really well. It is a well-known fact that after the sacred casket was placed upon him, he would never place a single step without carpets.
Magul Maduwa (Audience Hall)
This is a part of the ancient palace. It was where the king met with his ministers and carried out his daily administrative works. The base of this building is done with stones and the columns are 100% timber with beautiful ancient carvings.
Remains of the ancient palace can be seen by a side of the temple.
There is also a massive museum complex which contains the history of hundreds of years of the Kingdom of Kandy. If you are a history lover it will be a great experience to visit it.
Another eye-catcher there is the Ulupen Geya. The name says it all. ‘Ulu’ means calicut tiles, ‘pen’ means water and ‘geya’ means house. So basically it is a covered place for bathing. This is where the king and the queens had a bath.
How to Reach the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic…
Here is the exact location of the Temple of the Tooth Relic.
Parking spaces are available on the backside of the temple, but it is very limited. So it is highly recommended to park your vehicle somewhere else (paid parking are available nearby) if you are going to visit the place on poya day or on a long weekend.
So, that’s about the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic. Feel free to leave a comment if need to know more about the place.