Temple of the Tooth

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Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic
ශ්‍රී දළදා මාළිගාව
Zahntempel Kandy.jpg
Temple of the Tooth situated in world heritage site, Kandy
Founded 1595
Founder(s) Vimaladharmasuriya I
Reverend(s) Mahanayaka Thera of Asgiriya Chapter, Mahanayaka Thera of Malwatta Chapter, Diyawadana Nilame
Country Sri Lanka
Coordinates 7°17′38″N 80°38′19″E / 7.29389°N 80.63861°E / 7.29389; 80.63861Coordinates: 7°17′38″N 80°38′19″E / 7.29389°N 80.63861°E / 7.29389; 80.63861
Website http://www.sridaladamaligawa.lk

Sri Dalada Maligawa (Sinhala: ශ්‍රී දළදා මාළිගාව Tamil: ஸ்ரீ தலதா மாளிகை) or the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic is a Buddhist temple in the city of Kandy, Sri Lanka. It is located in the royal palace complex of the former Kingdom of Kandy, which houses the relic of the tooth of Buddha. Since ancient times, the relic has played an important role in local politics because it is believed that whoever holds the relic holds the governance of the country. Kandy was the last capital of the Sri Lankan kings and is a UNESCO world heritage site mainly due to the temple.

Monks of the two chapters of Malwatte and Asgiriya conduct daily worship in the inner chamber of the temple. Rituals are performed three times daily: at dawn, at noon and in the evenings. On Wednesdays there is a symbolic bathing of the relic with an herbal preparation made from scented water and fragrant flowers, called Nanumura Mangallaya. This holy water is believed to contain healing powers and is distributed among those present.

The temple sustained damage from bombing by LTTE terrorists in 1998 but was fully restored each time.


Front view of The Temple of the Tooth, Kandy, Sri Lanka
Patthirippua At Sri Dalada Maligawa Kandy Sri Lanka

After the parinirvana of Gautama Buddha, the tooth relic was preserved in Kalinga and smuggled to the island by Princess Hemamali and her husband, Prince Dantha on the instructions of her father King Guhasiva.[1] They landed in the island in Lankapattana during the reign of King Kirthi Sri Meghavarna (301-328) and handed over the tooth relic. The king enshrined it Meghagiri Vihara (present day Isurumuniya) in Anuradhapura. Safeguard of the relic was a responsibility of the monarch, therefore over the years the custodianship of relic became to symbolize the right to rule. Therefore reigning monarchs built the tooth relic temples quite close to their royal residences, as was the case during the times of Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Dambadeniya, Yapahuwa and Kurunegala kingdoms. During the era of Kingdom of Gampola the relic was housed in Niyamgampaya Vihara. It is reported in the messenger poems such as Hamsa, Gira, and Selalihini that the temple of tooth relic was situated within the city of Kotte when the kingdom was established there.[1]

During the reign of King Dharmapala, the relic was kept hidden in Delgamuwa Vihara, Ratnapura in a grinding stone.[1] It was brought to Kandy by Hiripitiye Diyawadana Rala and Devanagala Rathnalankara Thera. King Vimaladharmasuriya I built a two storey building to deposit the tooth relic and the building is now gone.[2] In 1603 when the Portuguese invaded Kandy, it was carried to Meda Mahanuwara in Dumbara. It was recovered in the time of Râjasimha II and it has been reported that he reinstate the original building or has built a new temple.[1] The present day temple of the tooth was built by Vira Narendra Sinha.[3] The octagonal Patthirippuwa and moat was added during the reign of Sri Vikrama Rajasinha. Famous Kandyan architect Devandra Mulacharin is credited with building the Patthirippuwa. Originally it was used by the kings for recreational activities and later it was offered to the tooth relic. Now it is an oriental library. It was attacked on two occasions, first in 1989 by the JVP and in 1998 by the LTTE.

Wall painting at Kelaniya Temple of Princess Hemamali and her husband, Prince Dantha which she carried Gautama Buddha's tooth relic hidden in her hair to Sri Lanka. - Painting by Solias Mendis


Inside the Temple of the Tooth
The golden canopy over main shrine

The brick wall which runs along the moat and Bogambara lake is known as water waves wall.[3] Holes in this wall are build to light coconut oil lamps. The main entrance gates which lies over the moat is called Mahawahalkada. At the foot of Mahawahalkada steps there is a Sandakada pahana (moonstone) which is carved in Kandyan architectural style. Mahawahalkada was totally destroyed in a 1998 bomb blast and rebuilt afterwards along with sandakada pahana other stone carvings.[4] Elephants are depicted in stone on the either sides of the entrance. A Makara Torana and two guardian stones are placed on top of the staircase.

Hewisi drummers' chamber is situated in front of the main shrine. The two storeys of main shrine are known as "Palle malaya" (lower floor) and "Udu malaya" (upper floor) or "Weda hitina maligawa".[5] The doors of the Weda Hitana Maligawa are carved in ivory. The actual chamber which the tooth relic is kept is known as the "Handun kunama".

The golden canopy built in 1987 over the main shrine and the golden fence which encircles the main shrine are other notable features.[6] The tooth relic is encased in seven golden caskets which engraved with precious gemstones.[7] The caskets have a shape of a stupa. The Procession casket which is used during the Esala Perahera is also displayed in the same chamber.

Associate buildings and structures[edit]

Royal Palace[edit]

Vimaladharmasuriya I built the royal palace of Kandy
Main article: Royal Palace of Kandy

The royal palace is situated to the north of the temple.[8] John Pybus, who was on an embassy in 1762, gives a detailed description on the royal palace.[9] Vikramabâhu III (r. 1356-1374) and Senasammatha Vikramabâhu (r. 1469-1511) built royal palaces on this site. Vimaladharmasuriya I undertook various decorations to the palace. The Dutch orientalist Philippus Baldaeus visited the palace with General Gerard Pietersz. Hulft in 1656. The royal residence is known as "Maha Wasala" in Sinhala from the Polonnaruwa period. The royal palace is also known as "Maligawa." There were three Wahalkadas and a 8 feet (2.4 m) high wall used as main entrances. The section of the palace facing the Natha Devale is said to be the oldest. During the beginning of the British period, it was used by Government Agent Sir John D'Oyly.[8] Successors of D'Oyly have continued to use it as their official residence. Today it is preserved as an archeological museum. Ulpen Ge and Queens Palace are the associated buildings of the palace.

Audience hall[edit]

Audience hall seen partially here from northern facade of the temple

The Audience hall or the Magul maduwa is where the Kandyan kings held their royal court.[10] It was completed during the reign of Sri Vikrama Rajasinha.[11] The carvings of the wooden pillars which support the wooden roof are an example of wood carving of the Kandyan period. Sri Rajadhi Rajasinha built this in the year of 1783. The hall was renovated for the reception of arrival in Kandy of Prince Albert Edward, Prince of Wales in 1872. Originally the hall of the size of 58*35.6 feet and after the renovation length was extended by additional 31.6 feet.[12] Other nearby building to the halls believed to be demolished during the British rule. The audience hall was the venue where the Kandyan Convention was drawn up, it was where the convention was read out to the people and where the conference, about the convention was held on 2 March 1815.[13][14] That space was later used to erect the Kandy Kachcheri and Kandy Supreme Court. Today it is used for state ceremonies and conserved under the department of archaeology.


Mahamaluwa is public who came to see the annual Esala perahera.[4] Today it contains a statue of Madduma Bandara. The memorial of which contains the skull of Keppetipola Disawe is another attraction. The statue of Princess Hemamali and Prince Dantha are also located here.

Sri Lanka - 029 - Kandy Temple of the Tooth.jpgTemple of the Sacred Tooth RelicMahawahalkada (The main entrance)MoatPattirippuwaHandun kunamaGolden canopyNew Palace
8 white, red rounded rectangle.svg
9 white, red rounded rectangle.svg
Old courts building
11 white, blue rounded rectangle.svg
Biso ulpen ge (Queens bath)Diyathilaka mandapaya
14 white, green rounded rectangle.svg
1 white, red rounded rectangle.svg Temple of the Tooth building complex
2 white, red rounded rectangle.svg Mahawahalkada (The main entrance)
3 white, blue rounded rectangle.svg Moat
4 white, red rounded rectangle.svg Pattirippuwa (Octagon)
5 white, red rounded rectangle.svg Handun kunama
6 white, red rounded rectangle.svg Golden canopy
7 white, red rounded rectangle.svg New Palace
8 white, red rounded rectangle.svg Royal Palace of Kandy
9 white, red rounded rectangle.svg National Museum of Kandy
10 white, red rounded rectangle.svg Old courts building
11 white, blue rounded rectangle.svg Kandy Lake
12 white, blue rounded rectangle.svg Biso ulpen ge (Queens bath)
13 white, blue rounded rectangle.svg Diyathilaka mandapaya
14 white, green rounded rectangle.svg Udawatta Kele Sanctuary

See also[edit]



  • (Sinhala) Abeywardena, H.A.P. (2004). Kandurata Praveniya (1st ed.). Colombo: Central Bank of Sri Lanka. ISBN 9789555750929. 
  • (Sinhala) Seneviratna, Anuradha (1989). "Dalada Maligawa". In Vethara Mahinda Thera. Kanda Udarata Mahanuwara (Sinhala translation ed.). Colombo: Ministry of Cultural affairs (Sri Lanka). 
  • Siriweera, W. I. (2004). History of Sri Lanka. Colombo: Dayawansa Jayakodi & Company. ISBN 955-551-257-4. 
  • Wijesooriya, S. (2006). A Concise Sinhala Mahavamsa. Kotte: Participatory Development Forum. ISBN 955-9140-31-0. 

External links[edit]