Calm and Quite Iconic Pride - Temple of The Sacred Tooth Relic - Kandy, Sri Lanka

 
Sri Lankan history goes back to more than 2500 years. Kandy has played a massive role in history, and all the legends and stories make Kandy a much respected and attractive place on the island. Located in the heart of Sri Lanka, Kandy was the last capital of the Sinhalese Kings from 1592 to 1815 and it remains one of the nation's most remarkable religious and cultural centers. Kandy is also known for its distinctive dance, music, and architecture.
 
Kandy is the second capital of Sri Lanka, situated at an elevation of 500 meters above sea level. Since it is set on a plateau, it is surrounded by mountains, tea plantations, and bio diverse rain forests. Rising around a scenic lake, beautiful Kandy is home to sacred landmarks, landscaped gardens, and cultural museums.
 

UNESCO World Heritage City

The beauty of Sri Lanka is that it hosts many attractive UNESCO World Heritage sites. Since Buddhism encompasses a huge part of the culture and history of Sri Lanka, there are numerous Buddhist temples which you will find throughout the country. Every temple in Sri Lanka is an epitome of serenity and spirituality. 
 
One noteworthy temple in Sri Lanka is the Temple of the Tooth Relic in Kandy. In 1988 Kandy is named as a World Heritage site mainly because of the temple of tooth This temple is home to the sacred tooth relic of Lord Buddha

It is knows as "Dalada Maligawa" in Sinhalese, especially among the local people. As the name denotes “temple of the tooth relic”, this is the place, where left eye tooth of Buddha believed to reside and therefore the temple of the tooth relic is one of the most sacred Buddhist temples in the world. The left eyetooth of Buddha was brought here from Kalinga, India in 2nd century BC and since then it is the honored spiritual element for the Buddhist devotees in the country.

 


Story of the Sacred Tooth Relic 

The Lord Buddha, after his demise was cremated at Kusinara town in the ‘sal’ flower garden of the Kings of Mallawa. There would have been a mass scale war if the distribution of the relics which fell out of the cremation pyre was not solved equitably, Lord Budda’s four Sacred teeth, Sacred Jaw and the Sacred forehead remained in the ashes. 
  
The group of Dambadiva Mallawa Kings arrived in Kusinara with their armed forces and demanded the relics. They were even ready to wage a war against any King who resisted of obtaining the Relics they needed. 
    
A Brahmin known as Drona mediated among the Kings and brought about a settlement when the Kings who were present with their armed forces agreed in the settlement suggested by Brahmin Drona. The Brahmin Drona used a measurement that was prevalent at that time known as “Neliya”. The kings agreed on this measurement and commenced the division. Then , to protect relics from others, kings made stupa (a dome-shaped building erected as a Buddhist shrine) and relics were enshrined in stupa to public worship.

An Arhat thero obtained a Sacred Relic also from the cremation pyre. He placed the Sacred Relic in the custody of King Guhaseeva in Kalinga. 
 
The Minister in charge of the daily devotions to the Sacred Tooth Relic was Prince Danta. King Guhaseeva gave his daughter princess Hemamala in marriage to Prince Danta. After few years, he found that there was to be a war with King of Pandu and he knew that he would resist his aggression as many were involved. All this was to obtain control of the Sacred Relic.  
 
The first thing he did was to safeguard the Sacred Tooth Relic, he called his daughter and Son-in-law Danta and ordered them to take away the relic to Sri Lanka, which he considered the only place safe for the Relic and  to give it to his friend, the king of Anuradhapura, the ancient Sri Lankan capital. 
 
King Guhaseeva first made a receptacle of pure Gold for the Sacred Tooth Relic which was in the shape of a “Corn Cob”. That gold container was studded with red rubies. The top of this receptacle was round in shape and when stuck on the hair knot of Princess Hemamala, it looks like another piece of jewellery. King Kirti Sri Megawarnabhaya was the king of Ceylon (Sri Lanka) at that time. This was in 371 AD.

Prince Danta and Princess Hemamala brought the Tooth Relic to Sri Lanka
 
Since then the Sacred Tooth Relic has become one of the most sacred religious objects in Sri Lanka. But in later years it is not only a religious object but also a political value as the person who belongs of the Tooth Relic is recognized as the King of Ceylon( Sri Lanka).  
 
According to the Sri Lankan law, even today, the owner of the sacred tooth relic inherited the crown to the throne. Therefore, anyone who comes to power in Sri Lanka becomes the legal guardian of the Tooth Relic. He had a genetic heritage to protect the Tooth Relic and preserving it was a protection of his kingdom. Because of this, the Temple of the Tooth was always built near the royal palace. It received special protection.
 
However, the Sacred Tooth Relic was never enshrined in a stupa (a dome-shaped building erected as a Buddhist shrine) unlike other relics, but always remained a movable revered object devoutly venerated by the Buddhists all over the world.  
 
Whenever the kingdom traveled from Anuradhapura to different places, the Dalada Maligawa was built at the same time. 
 

Construction of the Temple of Tooth Relic

Finally, the current location for the temple has selected by King Wimaladharamsuriya (I), the first King of the Kandyan kingdom in 1595.He built a two storied Temple for the Relic and brought the tooth relic from Delgamuwa near Kuruwita in Sabaragamuwa which has been hidden for protection. Now a days, remains of this temple no longer exist. 
 
 
King Wimaladharmasuriya II (1686 – 1706) built a three storied temple and his son king Veeraparakrama Narendrasinha (1706 – 1738), the last Sinhalese king to rule the country, built a new two storied temple seeing that the old temple built by his father has decayed. 
 
The last king of Sri lanka, Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe (1797 – 1814) built the Octagon shaped building called Pattirippuwa. Originally, the Pattirippuwa was part of the royal palace. It was used by the king to address his people. Today the Pattirippuwa has become a part of the temple and house in ancient "puskolla poth" (textures written in palm leaves.)
 
 

Unique Architectural features 

Usually, the Dalada Maligawa has some unique architectural features. Around the entire complex is a low white stone wall, delicately and simply carved with openings that give a filigree effect. But it’s inside where the magic happens. In a bold contrast to the exterior, the interior temple structures are elaborately carved and painted with exotic woods, lacquer and ivory.
 

The Maha Wahalkada is the main entrance to the Temple of Tooth Relic. It was built with the bridge over the moat. At the foot of Mahawahalkada steps, lies Kandyan architectural style “Sandakada pahana” (moonstone). There are two walls on the sides of the “Vahalkada”. The outer wall is called “Walakulu Bamma” (wall of clouds). This same pattern is also used in the wall surrounding the Kandy lake. The inner wall is called “Diyareli Bamma” (wall of water ripples). Both these walls are built with holes to place oil lanterns during the night.

 


Ambarawa with full of Kandyan arts

After passing the “Vahalkada” , you come to a “Makara Thorana“. Next is the tunnel “ambarawa“. lt is a tunnel with full of kandyan paintings. Passing this you come to the ground floor of the temple complex. The ground floor of the building called “Pallemaluwa“. This inner chamber is fortified with a large wooden door and decorated with bronze silver and ivory. The area in front of the door is called the “Hevisi Mandapaya” (Drummers Courtyard) where the daily 'thewawa' (rituals) is carried out.

Hevisi Mandapaya(Drummers courtyard)

 
Palle Maluwa

The tooth relic is kept in the upper floor in the chamber called “Vadahitina Maligawa” The door of this chamber is covered with gold silver, gems and ivory. The tooth relic is encased in seven gold caskets studded with precious gem stones. The outer casket is studded by precious stones offered to the tooth relic by ancient kings in Sri Lanka in various eras. The original Corn-Cob receptacle is still in the Sacred Temple of the Tooth in Kandy in the last casket of the seven caskets, where key of the casket is held by the Mahanayake(Chief Monk) of Asgiriya temple whoever comes to office.

 


Tooth relic is encased in seven gold caskets in Wedahitina Maligaya
 
On the right to the relic is the "Perahara Karanduwa"  kept inside a bullet proof glass display. Over the relic chamber there is a golden lotus flower studded with precious stones hanging from the roof ceiling.
 

 
 
The tooth relic is encased in seven gold caskets studded with precious gem stones

Traditional Rituals carried out Daily, Weekly, Monthly and Annually

Different types of traditional rituals that is series of actions always carried out in same way.Specially as the part of religious ceremony are being carried out daily, weekly, monthly and annually to pay homage to the tooth relic.These religious services have been carried out over 2000 years.
 
Daily Rituals
From ancient times offerings and rituals had been held daily, to the Sacred Tooth Relic.The daily rituals are held thrice a day. During the period of King Parakkaramabahu II, in order to carry out these rituals, a sacred shrine was built close to the palace. 
 
Even today these three rituals are performed on a daily basis.They are separated as, Early Morning Service, Mid-Day Service and Evening Service. The Temple officials in charge of the rituals carry the sacred items necessary as the normal custom practiced and do it punctually. For the Early morning services which begin at 5.15 a.m.with beaten of traditional drums and hewisi. During the ceremony drummers fill the air with rhythmic beats and prayers. The 'Buddha Pooja' begins at 6.00 a.m.To offer this Pooja, 32 bowl of rice, 32 different kinds of vegetables and curries and sweet meats are prepared. 
 
For the mid-day Service, the doors of the inner temple are opened at 9.30 a.m. The Pooja begins at 10 a.m. The meals are offered at 10.30 am. By 11.00 a.m. all the rituals are end and the doors are closed. 
 
The evening Pooja begins with traditional tom tom beaters playing of drums at 6.15 p.m. The first alms giving Pooja starts at 7 p.m. and the second at 7.30 p.m. After that the devotees can worship the Tooth Relic, the doors are closed, according to a practiced custom. 

Weekly Rituals

There are two rituals which performed once a week called 'Nanumura Mangalla' (bathing or anointing ceremony) and Hatara Poya (four ceremonies connected with the phase of the moon). 
 
Amazing night view
 
 
Annualy Ceremonies
Apart from these daily, weekly and monthly ceremonies, there are four major ceremonies held every year. They are The Ceremony of the first offering of New Rice after harvest called Aluth Sahal Mangallaya,  New Year Festival(Avurudu Mangallaya), Esala Mangalla (pageant in the month of July) and 'Katina festival' (Feast of Light in November).
 
Among many festivals, the 'Esala Perahera' is one of the important festivals held in July to commemorate Lord Buddha’s Conception, Renunciation, and First Sermon. This celebration is part of the social tradition of Sri Lanka. It is a colorful procession which includes number of elements such as elephants, Kandyan dancers, fire eaters, stick walkers, drummers whip crackers etc. The Kandy Esala Perahera carries the Golden Perahera Karanduwa on the Tusker. Now the Sacred Relic is NOT taken in the Perahera.
 
Glorious Kany Perahera

During the ceremony people line up for the chance to catch a glimpse of the golden case with the tooth inside and offerings of flowers are laid before the sacred tooth’s chamber. It was very interesting to go at this time of the day and it had a real impression about it.
 

Paradise for Art and History lovers

The entire Temple of the tooth relic is a paradise for art and history lovers. It is a masterpiece. It was built according to the Kandyan architecture and all the arts and crafts drawn in the temple exhibit the Sinhalese art technology of the Kandyan era.  
 
Apart from these, the other architectural feature of the temple of Tooth Relic is the wooden pillars. These are made in the middle of the table and are of the Kandyan era. The pillars of the tower are decorated with various carvings.
 
Kandyan types buildings in temple precinct

A collection of buildings and architecture within the palace complex including the old Royal Palace of Kandy, National Museum of Kandy, International Buddhist Museum, Temple of the Tooth Relic Museum, The New Buddha Shrine room and the Octagonal Pavilion namely Paththirippuwa can all form memorable parts of your trip if you intend to visit the Temple of Tooth Relic. 
 
The New Buddha Shrine room

The temple also contains a number of significant paintings and murals narrating events over the centuries in the Sri Dalada Museum which showcases the travel and history of the tooth relic.

There are also a number of Buddha statues and symbolic stupa structures where people come with their offerings and gifts including flowers and money as a token of respect while wishing and praying for themselves and their loved ones. 

Respect Proud Heritage 

Unlike most sacred places of other religions, the entrance to the Temple is open to all tourists regardless of their nationality and religion. There is a map of the temple at the entrance to help you go through all the buildings and structures on display. The tourists are allowed to capture photographs but expected to be respectful of the heritage. 
 
 
While taking photographs, it is recommended that one not directly turn one’s back to the religious figures and structures. Both men and women must have their shoulders and knees covered. No shorts or sleeveless tops allowed. Shoes are not allowed inside the temple. No headscarves, caps or head covers are allowed. You may wear any color but wearing a white dress or light color dress is a real good.
 

Beautiful Kandy Lake

The Kandy Lake was created by King Sri Wickrama Rajasingha ,the last king of Sri Lanka. The ‘Sea of Milk’ or ‘Kiri Muhuda’ are the other names that this most popular Kandy Lake is known as. The Kandy Lake sits at the heart of Sri Lanka’s hill country at the very centre of Kandy City, this glorious lake, previously an expanse of paddy fields. Over the years, it was reduced in size. It is a protected lake, with fishing banned. There are many legends and folklore regarding the lake. One such is that the small island at its center was used by the king’s helm for bathing and was connected to the palace by secret tunnel.


The Kandy Lake encompasses an area of over 6500 square miles and has a circumference of around 3.2km. At its lowest point, is seen to reach a depth of around 18.5 metres. Three main structure are present on the lake, namely the Jayatilleke Mandapaya, Walakulu Bamma and the Ulpange. 

The Jayatilleke Mandapaya was the King’s aforementioned personal walkway, with the lone island at its other end. The Walakulu Bamma which translated to ‘cloud wall’ is the structure which surrounds the lake. To the north, closer to the Temple of the Tooth Relic, the Queens Bathing Pavilion sits partially immersed in the waters of the lake. The king’s wives and concubines are said to have used the pavilion when bathing in the lake. It is The Ulpange. 

 

Ulpange

There is a walkway around the lake for walkers and runners and multiple attractions around the lake. The walk around the lake is pretty nice in the morning and close to sunset. The view is breathtaking and you will get lots of photo options at this place. It is filled with fish and surrounded by all kinds of birds. A walk around the lake is truly relaxing.


Must visit The Temple of The Tooth Relic

A place everyone must visit in Kandy. With tranquility and Sri Lanka's proud history. One of the best places I have visited during in my life time and it was so calm and quite place to stay for few hours.I would advise anyone who is planning to take a trip to Sri Lanka to visit the temple of The Sacred Tooth Relic, Sigiriya Rock and Nine Arch Bridge,Ella, it will be so worthwhile. I have unforgettable memories in this amazing holy temple of the tooth relic so much.And I was so lucky to visited there many many times when I was in beautiful Kandy.

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Not only is it home to the country’s most holy relic, a tooth of the Lord Buddha, but beyond the city also offers numerous wondrous attractions and sights, from tropical forests to tea plantations and spice gardens. Tropical plantations roll across the mountain slopes providing plenty of hiking and wildlife-watching opportunities, while upscale resorts line the Mahaweli River.

Sri Lanka is Pearl of the Indian Ocean, Centre of the Buddhism, and Land of Spices.





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