The most prestigious attraction recommended by both locals and tourists to visit in Kandy is The Temple of The Sacred Tooth Relic. Whenever you pass by, you will see some who worship even while standing outside the temple for a brief moment in their walk. Another fact you will notice is that almost everyone that goes and out from the temple is dressed in white.
Bit of History
The temple is from the Kandyan Kingdom, the last independent Sinhalese kingdom that was standing strong til early 1800’s. It holds onto a lot of Sri lankan history and culture. Locally called as “Dalada Maligawa” enshrines the left tooth relic of Lord Buddha.
Dalada Maligawa is built in close proximity to the Royal Palace of the kingdom. This is a common trait that is visible in all of the previous ancient kingdoms as well. Reason behind this is that, the monarch of the land is the legal guardian of the relic and it was the sign of a proper Sinhala monarch. It represents religious and political power.
Especially the majestic presence of it till present day shows the great importance Buddhism has in the island. Every year thousands of devotees visit and worship from around the world. The Temple of The Sacred Tooth Relic was declared as a UNESCO world heritage in 1988.
First when you stand in front of the Maligawa, to your right side there is the Kandy Lake, also known as “Kiri Muhuda”. If someone is walking from the other end of the lake, he would not feel tired because of the wind that blows away any tiredness from the journey. The lake is surrounded by large tall and some very old trees providing plenty of shade .
Then behind you, a famous hotel in British colonial luxury style called “Queen’s Hotel” can be found. If you search for photographs on the landscape of Kandy city definitely this old hotel will be in many of them. The hotel itself is older than 100 years. The balconies in this hotel are most coveted by many during the Esala Perahera season.
Lastly , to the left is a busy street full of shops and eateries that have been built in recent history. It reminds of how history and modern society are coexisting in the same space.
Inside the premises, there is Natha and Patthini Devala on the West. From the entrance itself we notice the use of gold, silver, bronze and ivory. Some passages’ roofs and walls are painted beautifully using vibrant colors. The patterns on these walls are intricate but mesmerizing to the eyes. There are wooden pillars, windows and doors that have wooden carvings like lotus, dragons, peacocks and flowers. The inside of the temple corridors have low curved ceilings and polished stone floor. It is no doubt that all the architects who designed and renovated the temple complex are highly skilled and would be appreciated for generations to come.
Everyday rituals known as “Thevava” are being conducted in a timely and orderly manner. At this specific time many would come to take blessings from Lord Buddha. If a visitor wishes to catch even a glimpse of the tooth relic, we suggest you visit during thevava time; morning, mid-day and evening. This is a daily service to Lord Buddha, but there are also weekly and annually held rituals and poojas to the sacred tooth relic.
Kandy Esala Perahera
One of the famous cultural festivals in Kandy is Esala Perahera. Each year in the months of July and August many locals and foreigners flock to the city just to watch this majestic procession. There are teams of whip cracking, traditional dancers of udarata, pahatharata and sabaragamu, dancers from the devalas, traditional drummers and procession of elephants and tuskers. These elephants are adorned from head to toe in colorful attire and at last the casket of the tooth relic is respectfully escorted on top of one majestic and graceful tusker.
The Temple of The Sacred Tooth Relic cannot be simply explained in words, because only a proper visit to the temple would make anyone feel its values that have been explained so far in the article. It is a place where you will experience the essence of Buddhism in Sri Lanka.