Scattered across Sri Lanka, from the northernmost tip of the island to the southern point of Sri Lanka and from the west coast of Sri Lanka to east coast of Sri Lanka, thousands of stupas, monasteries, pagodas and Buddhist temples such as the temple of the tooth relic of Kandy serve as places of worship and reminders of the teaching of Buddha.
None of the temples in Sri Lanka has the symbolic and, religious value of the tooth relic temple, which sits in the city of Kandy. One of the main Buddhist religious sites for the 488 million Buddhists worldwide, the temple houses the left eye-tooth of Buddha, one of the last remaining symbolic relic of Buddha.
The temple is also known as Dalada Maligawa very popular making the travellers, especially among the local travellers. Therefore the relic temple is part of most Sri Lanka trips such as 4 days Sri Lanka tour and 7 days Sri Lank trip.
As the name denotes “temple of the tooth relic”, this is the place, where left eye tooth of Buddha resides and therefore the temple of the tooth relic is one of the most sacred Buddhist temples in the world. The left eye tooth of Buddha was brought here from Indian in 2nd century BC and since then it is the honoured spiritual element for the Buddhist devotees in the country.
Significance of tooth relic temple
Temple of the tooth relic of Kandy houses the left eye tooth of Buddha which is considered as the symbolic representation of living Buddha. It is worshipped by tens of thousands of Buddhist from all over the world. Since the arrival of the sacred Tooth relic in the country, it is being considered as the most sacred element of the country.
Temple of the tooth relic or Dalada Maligawa (known to local people) is the most sacred Buddhist temple on the island of Sri Lanka. Today nearly a million travellers visit the tooth relic temple every year, wandering through the sacred buildings, museums and flower altars.
Most tourists, who are venturing on a Sri Lanka road trip visit the tooth relic temple of Kandy at some time of the trip, be it a 14 days in Sri Lanka or short Sri Lanka tour like 4 days tour or 3 days tour, visiting tooth relic temple is an important activity in the tour.
In addition, being an important pilgrimage site for Buddhist community, tooth relic temple also attracts a large number of people of various other denomination and backgrounds, much like Angkor Wat in Cambodia, St Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, and the Sultan Ahmed Mosque in Turkey.
The history of tooth relic temple
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 architecture of Tooth relic temple
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 many Ola manuscripts in the library, which are more than a thousand years old.
Kandy temple and city walk
Venturing on a Kandy temple and city walk is the best way to explore the tooth relic temple and other tourist attractions in Kandy. Usually, the Kandy city walk starts at the tooth relic temple. The Kandy city walk includes a visit to the Bahirawa Kande (Bahirwawa mountian), which is one of the highest mountain peaks in Kandy. It is the biggest Buddha statue in Kandy and rests on the mountain, making it visible to any part of the city.
You may not realise it but Kandy – has plenty of quirky history. Much of its fame is deeply rooted in the tooth relic – the two thousand years old left eye tooth of Buddha, which had been eluded from the foreign forces for many thousands of years by the native people. The tooth relic temple is believed to be the most significant sacred element on the island, which signifies the sovereignty of Sri Lanka.
There is a lot of interesting architecture that can be witnessed only very few places on the island. Some of this architecture can be found only in Kandy. The Pattirippuwa or Octagon and the main building of the tooth relic temple were built by Kandyan architects and built ancient craftsmen.
The first tourist place to visit on the city walk is the tooth relic temple, the museum, and Natha Devala. Later the roust explores the shopping area of Kandy city tour, which allows them to explore the oriental market, clothing shops, souvenir shops, Udawatekele sanctuary, Kandyan cultural show, Kandy viewpoint. The last event of the Kandy city walk is the exploration of Kandy lake.
How to reach the tooth relic temple from Colombo
The temple can be easily reached from Colombo and west coast of the island. A visit to the temple of the tooth can be combined with visits to other interesting places such as the elephant orphanage, Peradeniya botanical garden, spice garden, Kandy city, and tea estates. All these can be explored in a one-day excursion to Kandy. Kandy one day excursion and many other short tours can be discovered on our excursion page. Seerendipity tours are ready to help you to with sightseeing tours in Sri Lanka, So Don’t wait to call us!
Tooth relic temple as a UNESCO world heritage site
Temple of the tooth is declared as a world heritage site by UNESCO due to its historical and religious importance. The travellers have the opportunity to leisurely stroll around the Kandy Lake and enjoy the calm and serene environment while breathing fresh air. Escape from the oppressive heat of the coastal belt and enjoy the comfortable weather in the mountains.
Daily worships and rituals are performed by the monks of the Malwatu and Asgiri chapters at the temple of the tooth relic. Rituals are conducted three times a day at dawn, dusk and noon. Nanumura Mangallaya or bathing of sacred Tooth relic takes place every Wednesday, with herbal scented water. This water is considered to be having the healing power and distributed among the people at present.
The tale of the tooth relic
According to the historical information’s, when Buddha passed away in 6th century B.C in Kusinara (India), a sandalwood pyre was erected to cremate the body. Arahat Kema managed to rescue the left canine tooth of Buddha’s from the funeral pyre. After handing over this sacred object of Buddha’s, it was initially possessed and venerated by king Brahmadatta; it was kept in the capital city of Orissa and guarded by the soldiers of the royal army since it was considered as the most sacred element for Buddhist. This gold plated Buddha statue resides in the museum just behind the inner sanctum.
It is believed that the guardian of the Tooth Relic had the legitimacy or divine right to rule the country. Later on, king Brahmadatta was killed in a battle and King Guhasiva (from Kalinga) took the control of the country, and he possessed the Tooth relic. Even though king Guhasiva believed in Hinduism, he started venerating the Tooth relic, so is the rest of the kingdom.
This resulted in some discontent among Hindu priests in 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 worshipping 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.
The arrival of the tooth relic in Sri Lanka
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, 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.
Movement of left eye tooth within Sri Lanka
Temple of the tooth relic houses the most sacred object for Buddhist in Sri Lanka (left eye tooth of Buddha). Tooth Relic was brought to the island in the 2nd century AD from India and it was placed in the capital of the island (Anuradhapura).
As the capital of the island was shifted to several places in the past, the temple of the tooth relic was also shifted from place to place. The tooth relic eas brought to Kandy during the Kandy period, today the tooth relic is still residing in Kandy. Esala ceremony of Kandy, an annual ceremony which takes place in the months of July/August is considered to be one of the most beautiful pageants in Asia.
The beginning of tooth relic temple Kandy
Temple of the tooth relic is surrounded by a ditch and the bridge out of stones provides access to the temple. There are many fish and turtles in the ditch and it was constructed during the reign of King Sri Vikrama Rajasinghe (1798-1815).
The construction of the present temple 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. Today octagon used the library and housed some of the very valuable literary work of the country.
The main building of the temple of the tooth relic 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 relic is surrounded by seven caskets which are in gradually smaller in size. 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.
Every visitor should pay for the entrance of the main gate and the entrance cost USD 15 per person for foreign visitors while it cost USD 8 Per person for visitors coming from SAARC countries.
The audience is one of the most important components of the temple of the tooth relic, it is a huge hall and located in the direction of the east from the main building of the temple of the tooth relic. Even though the construction started in 1784it was completed under the king Sri Vikrama Rajasinghe. The architecture considered being typical Kandyan style and the building is constructed with beautifully decorated wooden pillars and columns. 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 of the temple of the tooth relic, which was constructed in 1765 after the Dutch architecture. There is a number of valuable artefacts in the museum some of the noteworthy objects are a 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 Temple of the tooth relic, which is located towards the north of the main building. Natha Devala was constructed in the 14th century and it is the oldest construction in Kandy. Temple is dedicated to the God Natha, who is dedicated to protecting the city. Pattini Devala is dedicated to the Goddess Pattini and the temple is located further fifty meters towards the North direction from the Natha Devala.
International Buddhist Museum
International Buddhist Museum is the newest addition to the tooth relic temple of Kandy. It is accommodated in a 3 storied building and lies adjoining the tooth relic temple. The temple showcases a large number of exhibits from many Asian countries. There are separate quarters for India, Pakistan, Bhutan, Nepal, and Bangladesh showcasing the relationship of those countries to Buddhism.
The entrance ticket to the international museum can be obtained at the ticket counter located at the main gate. However, the entrance ticket of the tooth relic can also be used to see the museum.
How to go to Tooth relic temple of Kandy?
The tooth relic temple of Kandy is located towards the southern border of the city next to the Kandy lake. The tooth relic temple is one of the most popular iconic structured in the city. The temple is located within easy reach of the city centre, and it lies only walking distance away from Kandy city. If you would like to know more information about how to reach Kandy please check on this article “Top 7 places to visit in Kandy”.
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.
Do I need to buy an entrance ticket to the tooth relic temple?
YES! you need to buy an entrance ticket before entering the temple. Most Sri Lankan temples do not charge the visitors but popular temples like the tooth relic temple, Dambulla golden cave temple do charge the visitors. If you are coming from a SAARC country the entrance to Tooth relic temple is USD 7 per visit. If you are a resident of any other country you need to pay USD 15 per visit.
The ticket is issued from a machine and the ticket issuing machine is to be found near the entrance gate towards the western end of the temple (between the lake and temple). The machine is newly added to due to some reasons, however, it is easy to use and no waiting time like earlier when tickets were issued by a person.
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