None of the Buddhist temples in Sri Lanka has the symbolic and, religious value of the tooth relic temple Kandy, 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 relics of Buddha.
Table of Contents
- What is the Tooth relic temple?
- Significance of tooth relic temple
- What is the compulsory dress code for the tooth relic temple?
- The history of the tooth relic temple
- The architecture of the Tooth relic temple
- Kandy temple and city walk
- How to reach the tooth relic temple from Colombo
- Tooth relic temple is a UNESCO world heritage site
- The tale of the tooth relic
- The arrival of the tooth relic in Sri Lanka
- Movement of left eye tooth within Sri Lanka
- The beginning of tooth relic temple Kandy
- What are the important parts of the tooth relic temple?
- Main Chamber (Wedahitina Maligawa)
- Pattirippuwa (Octagon)
- Mahawahalkada (Main Entrance)
- Walakulu Bemma (cloud wall)
- Hewisi Mandapaya (Drumming Hall)
- The Alut Maligawa (the New Temple)
- Audience Hall
- National Museum
- Natha Devala
- International Buddhist Museum
- How to go to the Tooth relic temple of Kandy?
- Temple of the tooth relic dress code
- Do I need to buy an entrance ticket to the tooth relic temple?
- What is the tooth temple Kandy ceremony time?
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 the 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. Therefore, the tooth temple had become one of the most important tourist attractions in Landy and is visited by thousands of people every day. 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 relics of Buddha.
What is the Tooth relic temple?
This is the temple, where the sacred tooth relic of Buddha is enshrined, located within the royal palace complex in Kandy. The temple is also known as Dalada Maligawa. The tooth relic temple is very popular among travellers, especially among foreign travellers. Therefore the relic temple is part of most Sri Lanka trips such as 4 day Sri Lanka tour and 7 days Sri Lank trip. On the other hand, the tooth relic temple is one of the most important Buddhist pilgrimage sites in Sri Lanka and it is a part of the Sri Lanka Buddhist tour.
As the name denotes “temple of the tooth relic”, this is the place, where the 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 India in the 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 the symbolic representation of the living Buddha. It is worshipped by tens of thousands of Buddhists from all over the world. Since the arrival of the sacred Tooth relic in the country, it is being considered 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 14 days in Sri Lanka or a 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 the Buddhist community, the tooth relic temple also attracts a large number of people of various other denominations and backgrounds, much like Angkor Wat in Cambodia, St Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, and the Sultan Ahmed Mosque in Turkey.
What is the compulsory dress code for the tooth relic temple?
Well-covered light-coloured clothing is most appropriate. Tooth relic temple is the most sacred Buddhist temple on the island and is visited by thousands of Buddhist devotees coming from various parts of the world. Due to the religious importance of the temple, the visitors of the tooth relic temple should strictly adhere temple dress code. Visitors who do not follow the temple dress code are not allowed to enter the temple. All visitors to the temple should wear a dress that covers the body up to the knee, it can be long trousers or a skirt. The upper part of the dress can be something like a t-shirt or a shirt, or a blouse that covers the shoulders. As in all Buddhist shrines, footwear and headwear should be removed before entering.
The history of the tooth relic temple
The origin of the tooth relic temple Kandy is dating back 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 the Portuguese and later King Sri Vira Parakrama (1706-1739 AD) constructed the two-storied building at the site. Today the tooth relic is residing on the upper floor of this building.
The architecture of the Tooth relic temple
Today the temple is not considered merely a temple with religious importance but also a place that showcases some of the most elegant art and crafts of the 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 into a Kandy tour 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 mountain), which is one of the highest mountain peaks in Kandy. It is the biggest Buddha statue in Kandy and rests on a mountain, making it visible to any part of the city.
You may not realize 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 in 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 were built by 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, and 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 the 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 tour to Kandy from Colombo. Kandy one day excursion and many other short tours can be discovered on our excursion page. Seerendipity tours are ready to help you with sightseeing tours in Sri Lanka, So Don’t wait to call us!
Tooth relic temple is a UNESCO world heritage site
Temple of the tooth is declared a world heritage site by UNESCO due to its historical and religious importance. The travellers have the opportunity to leisurely stroll around 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 worship 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 relics takes place every Wednesday, with herbal scented water. This water is considered to be having healing power and is distributed among the people at present.
The tale of the tooth relic
The tooth relic temple is one of the most popular places to visit in Kandy. According to historical information, when Buddha passed away in the 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 from the funeral pyre. After handing over this sacred object of Buddha, 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 the most sacred element for Buddhists. 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, and 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 King Pandu, who also believed in Hinduism and was against Buddhism. After hearing that King Guhasiva stopped venerating God and started worshipping the Tooth relic, King ordered his army to bring the Tooth relic and destroy it. It is said that King Pandu 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 that King Pandu also started believing in Buddhism, decided to attack King Pandu in Palaus. He decided to invade the Kingdom of King Pandu but they were defeated and king Ksheeradara was killed before arriving in 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 on 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 herself as a pilgrim with prince Dantha. After the journey from India to Sri Lanka, 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 relics on 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 taken around the city in a procession, was started during the rule of king Kithsirimewan. This annual event is still being done in the country and is one of the most beautiful processions in the world.
Movement of left eye tooth within Sri Lanka
The Temple of the tooth relic houses the most sacred object for Buddhists in Sri Lanka (the 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 was brought to Kandy during the Kandy period, today the tooth relic is still residing in Kandy. Esala ceremony of Kandy, an annual ceremony that 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
The 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 dates 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 to 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 gradually smaller in size. The topmost casket is 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.
What are the important parts of the tooth relic temple?
- Main chamber (Wedahitina Maligawa)
- Pattirippuwa (Octagon
- Mahawahalkada (Main Entrance)
- Walakulu Bemma (cloud wall)
- Hewisi Mandapaya (Drumming Hall)
- The Alut Maligawa (the New Temple)
- Audience Hall
- National Museum
- Natha Devala
- Iternational Buddhist Museum
Main Chamber (Wedahitina Maligawa)
The main chamber is located on the upper floor of the temple. The tooth relic of Buddha is enshrined in the main chamber. The tooth relic is deposited in gemstone studded caskets in the form of a Spa or dagoba.
The Octagon was built by the last King of Sri Lanka, Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe (1797 – 1814). The unique design of Pattiruppuwa was designed by Devendra Moolacarya. The Patturippuwa was a part of the palace complex of the Kandy king. The king used it to address his countrymen. Today, it houses ancient textures written in Ola leaves.
Mahawahalkada (Main Entrance)
The tall doorway at the entrance just behind the moat is a typical element in ancient Sri Lankan architecture and is known as the ‘Mahawahalkada’. At the foot of its steps is a Sandakada Pahana (Moonstone) which is elaborately carved. Elephants are depicted in stone on either side of the entrance with a ‘Makara Torana’ and two guardian stones placed on the top of the staircase.
Walakulu Bemma (cloud wall)
There are two walls mainly built around the tooth relic temple. One is the “Walakulu Bemma”, which takes the form of clouds and the other one is the “Diyareli Bemma” which, depicts ripples of water. Both walls are equipped with holes. The oil lamps are placed in the holes on days of important celebrations in the temple.
Hewisi Mandapaya (Drumming Hall)
Passing the entrance is a tunnel with beautiful murals that lead to the pillared hall where drummers perform the rituals during the ‘Tevava’ conducted daily at regular times of the day in the morning, noon and evening.
The Alut Maligawa (the New Temple)
This building sits across the stone courtyard from the old temple. This building houses a large number of Buddha statues. Most of them are received from other Buddhist countries such as Thailand, Burma, China, and Japan. The walls are lined with interesting artworks depicting the life of the Buddha.
The Audience Halla is one of the most important components of the temple of the tooth relic, it is a huge hall located in the direction of the east of the main building. Even though the construction of this building started in 1784 it was completed under the king Sri Vikrama Rajasinghe. The architecture is considered to be 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 the 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 Dutch architecture. There are 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 were 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 to 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 in 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 the Tooth relic temple of Kandy?
The tooth relic temple of Kandy is located towards the southern border of the city next to Kandy lake. The tooth relic temple is one of the most popular iconic structures 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 out the 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 and Dambulla golden cave temple do charge the visitors. If you are coming from a SAARC country the entrance to the 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 due to some reasons, however, it is easy to use and has 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