The Temple of the sacred Tooth Relic, also known as Sri Dalada Maligawa is the edifice that enshrines the sacred Tooth of the Buddha, located within the royal palace complex in Kandy. The sacred relic was brought to Sri Lanka in the 3rd century BC and since have been closely associated with royalty of the island nation with magnificent temples built to enshrine it in every kingdom. Kandy, also known as the cultural capital of Sri Lanka is famous for the mesmerizing pageant the ‘Esala Perehera’ that is held annually in the months of July/August to honor the sacred Tooth Relic. The golden canopy over the main shrine, built in 1987 and the golden fence which encircles the main shrine are other notable features in the temple.
All visitors to the temple should be clad in long trousers / skirts that cover their legs. If any visit in short skirts or trousers, sarongs will be given to be worn during the visit. As in all Buddhist shrines footwear and headwear should be removed before entering. Well covered light coloured clothing is most appropriate.
The main chamber enshrines the sacred Tooth Relic which is kept encased in seven gemstone-studded golden caskets in the shape of stupas. The procession casket which is used during the Kandy Esala Perahera is also displayed in the same chamber that has a golden lotus flower studded with precious stones hanging from it’s ceiling. It’s timber doors are carved and decorated in bronze and ivory.
The Octagon built during the rule of the last king of Kandy, Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe (1797 – 1814) was designed by Devendra Moolacarya, the architect, as part of the royal palace and used by the king to address his countrymen. Today, it is part of the temple and houses ancient textures written in Ola leaves.
The tall doorway at the entrance to the temple passing the moat is a typical element in ancient Sri Lankan architecture and is known as the ‘Mahawahalkada’. At the foot of it’s 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.
There are two unique walls on the sides of the entrance where the higher wall with rounded tops depict clouds and is called the ‘Walakulu Bamma’. The lower wall with pointed tops depict ripples of water and is called ‘Diyarali Bamma’. Both these walls are built with holes to place oil lanterns during the night.
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.
This building sits across the stone courtyard from the old temple. Many large Buddha statues donated by Thailand and a large beautiful Golden Buddha at the main alter completes this lofty shrine. The walls are lined with interesting art works depicting the life of the Buddha.