An evening at Sri Dalada Maligawa

On the banks of Kandy Lake is the Temple of the Tooth Relic (‘Sri Dalada Maligawa). It is the most sacred Buddhist shrine in Sri Lanka (some say in the world) and the most important tourist attraction in Kandy. Thousands of people visit it everyday. Sri Lankan Buddhists believe they should complete at least one pilgrimage in their lifetime to Sri Dalada Maligawa temple as it houses the Sacred Tooth Relic. Buddhist legend says that in 543 B.C a left canine tooth was retrieved from the Buddha’s funeral pyre and brought to the island in 310 A.D. hidden in the hair of Princess Hemamali escaping from Hindu armies. For the first 1500 years the Sacred Tooth Relic had no permanent location. It was believed that whoever possessed the tooth had the right to rule the land, so wars were fought over it. This temple was built in the 18th century to house the Sacred Tooth and it has remained in Kandy ever since.

There is a lot to see around the complex. Buildings are richly carved and decorated. Flowers and candles are almost everywhere. It is a beautiful sight.

Viewing time of the Tooth Relic is at 6:30pm. And well beforehand hordes of people arrive. Joanna decided to stay downstairs as I queued, out of curiosity of course. There were hundreds of people – the young, the old and babies. Locals mostly, devotees making offerings, meditating and waiting to get as close as possible to Buddha Tooth Stupa and a handful of tourists. The tooth is heavily guarded and protected against theft by traditionally dressed men.

You start queuing downstairs, wait for your turn (or simply push) to go up the narrow stairs and then proceed to the centre of room. It was very crowded. Elbows push from every direction. To take photos I had to hold my camera high above my head. I queued with an Australian couple and their guide. Tourists in packs is always a better strategy in crowds without the protection of Husband. They were on their way to the Maldives for their honeymoon, but wanted to do some sightseeing as well. After about 45min of standing and sweating while squashed against other people they asked me if this temple was always this busy… I guessed their guide hadn’t explained why they came at this specific time. After a long time (or so it seemed) we decided to quit queuing as it was well past 6:30pm and leave. Easier said than done. We had to push, and push some more through the entire room to use the door on other side of the room to exit. When we got to the centre they opened the door to the relic. Let’s be honest. I wanted to see THE TOOTH. Forgive me, an ignorant woman who didn’t read description carefully in the guide book. I found out that you do not get to actually see the tooth. You get to see a golden stupa… I managed to find Joanna relaxing and reading the guide book at the side of the temple. Sometimes, curiosity is not the most convenient thing.

It was nice to wander around and see hundreds of worshippers around the temple grounds.

Moat around the temple.

Beautiful entrance tunnel to the temple.

An hour before the viewing starts. An almost empty temple with few people. Worshipping here is believed to improve one’s karma.

After almost an hour of queuing, a quick look at Buddha Tooth Stupa.

Lake Kandy and the temple

Entry for foreign tourists: 15USD (2000Rs)

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