The city of Kandy definitely deservers a spot on your Sri Lanka itinerary. If you don’t believe us, then maybe UNESCO will convince you – they named the Sacred City of Kandy a World Heritage Site in 1988.
One of the main reason Kandy boasts such unique status is Sri Dalada Maligawa or the Temple of the Tooth. This is one of the most important Buddhist temples in Sri Lanka and with good reason. The temple is home to a mighty relic: the Tooth of the Buddha.
Introducing the Temple of the Tooth
The Temple of the Tooth is located inside the royal palace complex in Kandy, which reflects just how closely religion and politics are related.
Ancient local traditions hold that whoever holds the relic of the tooth also rules the country.
Kandy was the last capital of Sri Lankan Kings to fall under British rule in 1815. But the Temple of the Tooth is not just a dusty reminder of the past, but also remains an important pilgrimage site to this day.
History of the Temple of the Tooth
So just how did the Tooth of the Buddha find its way to Sri Lanka?
Legend has it that after the cremation of Buddha in 313 AD in India, one of the Buddha’s teeth was found and smuggled into Sri Lanka, hidden in the hair of the Princess Hemamal following orders from her father the king.
The tooth immediately became an item of a great importance and protecting the relic was considered a monarch’s duty. As a result, the tooth became a sign of a king’s right to rule and other monarchs in Sri Lanka also built relic of the tooth temples close to their palaces.
Visiting the Temple of the Tooth
The Temple of the Tooth is the most important temple and popular attraction in Kandy, so be prepared to meet some other sightseers!
The best time to visit the Temple of the Tooth is right before and during the daily ceremonies, which take place at 9.30am and 6.30pm. The poojas include music, incense, flowers and prayer and are packed with unique ambiance.
The tooth itself is placed inside a golden casket, so you won’t be able to see the relic directly. It’s highly recommended to visit the Temple of the Tooth with a guide to get the most of your experience.
Remember that proper temple attire entails covering your knees and shoulders and removing your shoes when entering the temple.
The temple offers interesting architecture both inside and out. The interiors are intricately decorated, whereas the outside offers a simpler white facade. The Temple of the Tooth is set by a lake and wandering through the complex makes for a scenic stroll.