The essence of the experience
The Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic is the most revered site in Sri Lanka. Locally known as the Sri Dalada Maligawa, this place of worship was constructed in the 16th century AD. Situated adjacent to the Royal Palace complex of the former Kingdom of Kandy, the shrine overlooks the vast expanse of the Kandy Lake.
Preserving the sacred tooth relic of the Lord Buddha in this haven of refuge, local tradition has, since time immemorial, declared that whoever houses and protects the divine relic automatically is given the power to rule the country. While somethings have changed, the symbolism remains powerful.
The artifact serves as a significant symbol of Sinhalese identity and pride and those in possession of the relic have a political, as well as a religious, dimension.
Every day thousands of white-clad pilgrims make their way to this hallowed space, bearing lotus blossoms and frangipani for their offerings and prayers, known as pujas. It is essential that you are dressed appropriately, clothes must cover your legs and shoulders and, before entering the holy temple your shoes must be removed.
A visit to the Temple of the Sacred Relic Temple is a must when you are in Kandy. While the tooth stays hidden within a gold casket, visitors and devotees always visit the temple during puja just to have a look at the well protected inner shrine where it is kept.
Annually, during the Esala Perahera procession, the relic casket gets paraded through the streets atop a male elephant. The 10-day festival is one of the largest Buddhist festivals in the world and the most important in Sri Lanka. The temple is best visited in the morning or the evening when the ceremonial offerings and prayers are given.