Temple of the Tooth
This place of worship as it is widely known here in Sri Lanka and abroad, is the most venerated and worshipped place on earth by all Buddhists in this island. It is where the Lord Buddha’s Tooth Relic is enshrined within these holy precincts. This large complex was also formerly the last King of Kandy, namely the King Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe’s Palace.
The temple is now a holy place of devotion. It houses many areas such as the Buddhist monk’s quarters, and various other smaller temples within its massive structure. The old building still remains intact with its beautiful works of art and architecture; wall murals depicting the life story of the Buddha adorn these sacred walls. The doorway of the building has two enormous concrete carvings of two elephants, and as you enter you set foot on the half moon step carved out of stone. This stone is intricately and exquisitely cut with elephants, lions and flowers depicting the Kandyan era. Sadly this beautiful stone that had sat for thousands of years at its entrance was destroyed in 1998 by terrorists. The front foyer had to be renovated and the stone redone and replaced.
The front doorway is also used for the annual Esela Perehara which is held in the months of July or August. This is where the Majestic Royal Tusker makes his entry way out decked in all its glory carrying the sacred tooth relic on his back to take part in the procession of the pageant. If you can get permission to get a glimpse from here, it will indeed be one of the best experiences you will gain of this historic event, as this majestic tusker puts his huge foot stepping out the massive entry way of the Dalada Maligawa.
To the north side of the main building is the auditorium site. This is the place where the king used to conduct his meetings and gather all his officials for important talks regarding the governance of the country etc. it is called the “Magul Maduwa” the roof is supported with wooden pillars and still stands its test of time.
There is a golden roof built over the main shrine of the sanctuary. This was built in recent times.
To the left side of the building is the moat which is part of the lake opposite the temple. On the lake sits the pavilion known as a meeting place or bathing place for the Queen and her entourage. It is also believed that there was a secret tunnel from the palace to the little island in the middle of the lake. On the rear of the temple is the big forests of Udawatte Kele, here too it is said that there is a byway or roadway leading from the palace to the Udawatte Kele forest reserve. This was constantly used by the King and his officials. These are the kind of stories that intrigues me, as secret tunnels, and pathways, islands and lakes sounds so exciting to explore.
It is the most exciting place to investigate if you are into adventure, however you won’t be allowed to walk around all its hidden mysteries, stories and legends but you can just visualize its mysterious past when you read and visit this place.
Towards the right or rear side of the temple there are more buildings still left as it was when built in the old days. These buildings used to house the kings various outhouses where all the staff lived or worked. You can see the magnificent carvings of the pillars in these buildings done by master craftsman of yesteryear that are so beautiful to look at. Elsewhere behind the building is the National Museum and the International Buddhist museum, this was the former buildings which was then used as the Court complex which is now shifted.
The octagon was where the King spent his leisure hours and the balcony area of the octagon was also a good look out to the lake opposite. It was later used to house the tooth relic when it was brought to the Kandyan kingdom. Today the Octagon is used as the Buddhist library. These places are not open to the public. Only certain parts of the palace or dalada maligawa are open to the general public.
The grounds are huge areas of beautiful green lawns and beautiful ponds with lotus flowers. The wall surrounding the temple and the lake is built to resemble the ripples of the water in the lake. There are holes in the wall to allow devotees to light lamps during the poya holidays and important Buddhist festivals that are held and celebrated in the country and its temple.
Be respectful and dress accordingly – appropriate to temple rules
Now we all know that when we enter any religious place of worship we have to be respectful and dress according to the culture and history of its country. You have to follow the Temple of the Tooth dress code.
- Remember to remove your shoes before you enter the holy place of worship. There is a separate area to keep all your belonging and shoes. You will be given a ticket or number when you keep your belongs here. You can pay a small fee when once you leave with your stuff.
- Women should wear long skirts or dresses, if the dress is short or you are wearing other attire like shorts, a white cloth will be given to cover yourself up. Your chest area should be well covered.
- Remove any head gear that you are wearing.
- All bags and your person will be checked at the security area.
Opening hours of the Shrine or Temple- Best times to visit the temple of the tooth
The Dalada Maligawa is open to the public daily from 5.30 a.m. to 8.00 p.m. be sure to visit early if you want to have the temple to yourself and avoid huge crowds.
Ceremonies at the Temple
You can expect to see daily prayer sessions at the temple. They have them in the morning, noon and evening hours of the day. Many devotees book early to hold these special ceremonies or give alms to the Buddhist monks besides the Temple of the Tooth ceremony.
Visiting the ancient city of the Kandyan Kingdom will truly be a wonderful experience for you, a truly memorable one once you enter the holy precincts of the Temple of the Tooth.