It was around 6.30 PM as we step on to the first stepping stone of the garden of Sri Dalada Maligawa, the most sacred Buddhist temple in Sri Lanka. We heard the drum beats and pale sound of the flutes from the distance, they are mixed as to make an invoke blessings of god and goddesses, who abode above the Dalada Maligawa, as we about to witness the evening ceremony of Dalada Maligawa. This music is mixed into the air three times a day by the troupe, during the Pooja or ceremony, during which a large gathering of local as well as foreign tourists can be seen within the temple as well as in the garden.
“We are from the UK, 5 of us, this is our first visit to sri dalada maligawa, we visited many temples on the island during the last few days but this is the first time we see this much of people in one place. Unbelievable, the hall is full of people, so much of people, you can barely move,” said Gerald, a tourist who was visiting sri dalada maligawa. “This is the last event for us today, our guide said that the event ends around 07.30, then we move to our hotel”, said Gerald.
Sri dalada maligawa sits towards the southern corner of the Kandy, adjoining the Kandy lake. The temple has a very picturesque, calm and quiet surrounding despite the fact that it is very to the 4th most populated city on the island. Udawattekele, the rainforest is majestically standing behind the temple as it is protecting the temple from its enemies. The extensive forest cover around the temple and the nearby lake regulate the temperature in and around the temple and keep it in the range of 25-30 degree Celcius.
As we entered the main building after climbing the stairs and passing the passage that begins with a small arch, we could see the inner sanctum where the troupe was performing. A large gathering of foreign tourist could be seen around the troupe making photos of them in different angels, for most foreigners it is a highlight for the day, despite the fact they have visited many places during the day.
“Sri dalada maligawa is the most important tourist attraction in Kandy and Kandy attracts a large number of people due to this sacred temple, ” said our guide Somaweera. “There are many other places to visit in Kandy but for local people and foreigners this is the most important attraction,” Said Somaweera.
The second staircase leads the visitors to the upper floor named as “wedasitina Malaya” or residing floor, where the tooth relic resides in a chamber. The visit to Dalada Maligawa of every visitor culminate here, a large number of visitors line up along a yellow rope and wait patiently until their opportunity come to pay homage to the tooth relic. After making the flower offering and donations at tooth relic chamber the visitors leave the temple and as the blessing invoked on them. This is the picture for most visitors who come by Dalada Maligawa.
Dalada Maligawa is one of the most visited places among the tourist attractions in Sri Lanka. This historical temple houses the most sacred object of Buddhists of Sri Lanka, which is known as left eye tooth of Buddha or Daldawa in the Sinhalese language. Tooth Relic was brought to the island in the 2nd century AD from India and it was placed in the first capital of the island, Anuradhapura. As the capital of the island was dislodged several times in the past, tooth relic was also shifted from place to place and brought to Kandy during the Kandy period. Today the tooth relic is residing in Dalada Maligawa.
Esala ceremony of Kandy that evolved around the tooth relic is the annual event, which takes place in the months of July/August, is considered to be one of the most beautiful pageants in Asia. The history of the event goes back to the pre-Christian ear, and the procession was uninterruptedly conducted for more than 2000 years. This is not only a very colourful event in the world but also one of the oldest religious ceremonies in the world.
Dalada Maligawa is surrounded by a ditch and the bridge out of stones provides access to the temple. There is a large amount of fish and a turtle in the ditch and it was constructed during the reign of King Sri Vikrama Rajasinghe (1798-1815). The construction of the temple present started in 1706; the octagon was constructed in a later period and dating back to the beginning of the 19th century. It had been used in important events such as demonstrating the tooth relic. There was a secret passage from the octagon, supposed to be used by the king in the event of a risk for his life. Octagon functions as the library and stores large number fo valuable historical books.
The main building of the Dalada Maligawa is located in the middle of the temple which has two stories. The tooth relic is to be found on the upper floor of the main building (Udamale). The tooth of Buddha sits on a golden lotus flower, which is covered by seven caskets in varying sizes. The topmost casket that is in dome-shaped and it is one meter in height. The casket is beautifully decorated with gems, gold, silver and ivory.
Audience hall is located in the direction of the east from the main building of Dalada Maligawa. Even though the construction started in 1784it was completed under the king Sri Vikrama Rajasinghe. Dalada Maligawa represents the typical Sri Lanka architecture predominantly the Kandyan style of architecture with large wooden pillars and columns with intricate wooden carvings. It was the venue where the Kandy convention, which made Sri Lanka a British colony, was signed between the representative of King and the British rulers in 1815.
South of the Audience hall is the national museum which was constructed in 1765 after the Dutch architecture. There are a number of valuable artefacts in the museum some of the noteworthy objects are the Golden crown of king Raja Sinha 2, ivories, wood carvings, oil lamps that used in rituals, beautifully decorated figures with traditional upcountry attire, and thousands of years old palm-leave manuscripts.
Natha Devala another important religious building belongs to the Dalada Maligawa complex is located in the direction of north from the main building. Natha Devala was constructed in the 14th century and it is the oldest construction in the city. Temple is dedicated to the God Natha, who is dedicated to protecting the city. Pattini Devala resides near the rear gate next to the catholic church is dedicated to Goddess Pattinit.