Sri Lanka Travel Tours

Temple of the Tooth

Temple of the Tooth

Sum up

Discover one of the great legends of Sri Lanka by visiting the Temple of the Tooth in Kandy where a sacred tooth relic of the Buddha is housed in great splendour. The story of this religious relic rivals any in the world. The Buddha’s tooth was brought to Sri Lanka in 4th Century A.D. and was subsequently passed round with great ceremony by a succession of Sinhalese kings and monks who regarded it as a symbol of sovereignty.

Duration: 2 hours

Best Time: Year-round

Additional Information

It has been guarded it religiously ever since, enshrined with various temples, most recently in Kandy where it is the centrepiece of the hill country capital. Kandy’s Dalada Maligawa is a magnificent shrine, with decorative walls, golden roof and fine woodwork and its 16th to 19th century ambience still vividly alive.

The Buddha’s tooth is housed in a dedicated temple inside a golden stupa – a commemorative monument. Parts of the shrine have been destroyed and rebuilt over centuries, but this opulent structure still survives. This beatific spot is the centrepiece of Kandy Lake and brings a sense of calm and splendour to the bustle all around.

Approach the entrance gates over the moat to an imposing entrance arch guarded by carved elephants on either side. The temple, with its tiled roofs, white walls and large windows, is built in the classical Kandyan style. The door to the tooth relic chamber is carved in ivory. The tooth relic cannot be seen within the temple as it is securely enshrined on seven golden caskets studded with gemstones.

Religious services, poojas, are held daily at dawn, midday and in the evening and can be viewed by visitors. The services are accompanied with traditional music and drumming. You can also visit the Royal Palace which now operates as the Kandy museum.

On the Esala full moon day of July/August each year, the sacred tooth relic, encased in a golden casket, is taken in procession or Perahera on the back of the temple elephant through Kandy’s streets for all to see, surrounded by Kandyan dancers and fire eaters. The entire Festival lasts around a fortnight and attracts many tourists and devotees.

Legend has it that the Buddha was cremated after his death and his remains were allocated to different places for worship, with one canine given to the King of Kalinga, in the east of India. The Kalinga king, Guhasiva, sent the sacred tooth to Sri Lanka for safe keeping during times of war where it was first received by King Meghavanna in Anaradhapura. Eventually it reached Kandy, and was later taking into hiding during the Portuguese invasion in 1603.

The current Temple of the Tooth was constructed in the early 1700s by King Vira Parakrama Narendra Singha, the last Sinhalese king of the kingdom of Kandy.

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