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Sacred Temple of Tooth in Sri Lanka

SriLankan Sacred Temple of Tooth

Sacred Temple of Tooth is located in Kandy, one of the most picturesque and historic cities in Sri Lanka. This glorious ancient temple is one of the eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the country. It is where the sacred tooth relic of Lord Buddha is protected, hence deeply revered by Sri Lankan Buddhists. Temple of Tooth is an iconic travel destination and pilgrimage site for all Sri Lankan communities. However, this historical temple continues to amaze the visitors with its great architectural and cultural value.

Sacred Temple of Tooth in Kandy
Sacred Temple of Tooth in Kandy

However, the history of the sacred tooth relic is quite long, dating back to 4th century AD. It was carried to Sri Lanka from India by Prince Danta and Princess Hemamala. From that time, the sacred tooth relic has played a very important role as the symbol of the sovereignty of Sri Lanka. Its location shifted several times with the change of Sri Lanka’s capital. However, Sri Lankan Kings continued to protect the tooth relic and finally it ended up with the last Kandyan monarchy. 

Statues of Prince Danta & Princess Hemamala
Statues of Prince Danta & Princess Hemamala

The Temple of Tooth and the lake

The Temple of Tooth spreads in a large area in the heart of Kandy city. Certainly, it has an elegant, extensive garden, which is bordered by Udawatta Kele Sanctuary and Kandy Lake. The last king of Sri Lanka, King Sri Wikrama Rajasinghe, built the lake in 1807. It also gives an additional aesthetic value to the Temple of Tooth complex. Certainly, the unique wall around the lake known as Clouds Wall and it further increases the beauty of the lake.

Kandy lake
Kandy lake

The current structure of the Temple of Tooth dates back to the early 1700s, the reign of King Vira Parakrama Narendrasinghe. Certainly, it was built using the best architectural skills in the Kandyan reign. However, the old buildings, still well preserved for centuries, show the greatness of ancient architecture.You can also see this magnificent octagonal structure of the Temple of Tooth from a distance. This beautiful structure is undoubtedly as one of the main iconic symbols of Sri Lanka.

Unique octagonal structure of temple
Unique octagonal structure of temple

The interior of the temple

Surely, the interior of the temple is decorated with exceptionally beautiful paintings, which were drawn in the Kandyan era. These ancient paintings are quite elegant and attractive with bright colours.  The sacred Tooth Relic is protected inside the golden roofed chamber. There you can offer flowers at the front table and respect the majestic golden casket containing the sacred tooth relic of Lord Buddha.

Interior of Sacred temple of Tooth
Interior of the temple

Daily worship rituals of the Temple of Tooth are three times a day. The hours are at 5.30 am at dawn, 9.30 am, and at 6.30 pm. These pujas are the time of offering and prayers to the sacred tooth relic. There is an amazing atmosphere during these pujas with traditional drumming and chanting. Visiting the Temple of Tooth during the puja times is surely an awe-inspiring experience for any visitor.

Daily workship rituals in Sacred Temple of Tooth
Daily worship rituals

Ancient Royal Audience Hall

Temple of Tooth is a part of the ancient Kandyan royal palace complex. Other remnants of the Kandyan kingdom are remaining on the temple grounds. Among them, the Royal Audience hall is a marvellous building with beautiful ancient wood carvings. Chiefly, this is the best place to admire the last authentic styles of Kandyan wood arts.

Ancient Royal Audience Hall

The temple grounds spread out many hectares and have several important spots under one head. The four Shrines related to the Gods of Natha, Vishnu, Pattini, and Kataragama are important places that devotees respect a lot. Many visitors pay homage to these shrines to get blessings from the gods.

Shrines of Gods
Shrines of Gods

International Buddhist Museum

The International Buddhist Museum is located on temple grounds. In the museum they exhibit many statues and paintings related to Buddhism. This is the world’s first international museum dedicated to Buddhism. In general, the museum has a collection of artifacts contributed from 17 Asian countries.

International Buddhist Museum
International Buddhist Museum

Raja Tusker Hall is also an important place not to miss in the Temple of Tooth. Raja (1913 -1988) was a Sri Lankan tusker that belonged to the temple. He is definetely considered as the greatest tusker in history, having taken part in the annual Esala Perahera parade for around 50 years. He was the sacred golden casket bearer of the final Randoli Perahera for 37 years until passing away in July 1988. Currently in the Raja Tusker Museum, they preserve the stuffed remains of the great tusk

Raja Tusker Museum

Esala Perahera

Kandy’s Temple of Tooth and Esala Perahera are deeply related to Sri Lankan culture and history. Kandy Esala Perahera is a grand annual procession held to respect the sacred tooth relic. This extravagant festival lasts for ten days from July to August each year. There are parades of traditional dancers and elegantly decorated elephants. The major event in this procession is certainly the final Randoli Perahera, where the majestic tusker carries the golden casket containing the sacred tooth relic. Certainly, this is one of the grand Buddhist pageants in Sri Lanka, which attracts thousands of devotees and visitors to Kandy city.

Kandy Esala Perahera
Kandy Esala Perahera

in conclusion, if you want to know more about Sri lanka and its culture, look at Magnificent Sri Lanka. 

However, if you want to know more about the culture of other places, look at our Blog.

Author: Hemi Kathriaracchi

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