History of the Temple of the Sacred Tooth
The Temple of the Sacred Tooth or Sri Dalada Maligawa is a temple which houses a tooth of Buddha. The temple is located within the royal palace complex in Kandy. This tooth has played an important part in local politics since olden times, where it was believed whoever held the tooth, held the governance of the country, this caused the kings to protect it thoroughly.
Buddha’s tooth was smuggled into Sri Lanka by Princess Hemamali and her husband, during the reign of Sirimeghavanna of Anduradhapura. On their arrival to Sri Lanka they gave the tooth relic to the king to safeguard. Over time it was assumed the responsibility of the relic fell upon the monarch and it became to symbolise the monarch’s right to rule. So monarchs kept the tooth relic in a temple close to their residence.
Upon arrival at the temple and paying our entrance fee, we were directed to hire sarongs to wrap around ourselves, as you can’t enter the temple in shorts. Ava and Max were exempt to this rule as they were younger.
Walking past the lake to reach the temple, you pass a lot of people carrying flower offerings. Everyone queues to enter the temple and depending on the time of day and whether there is a service about to happen, will determine how long you have to wait. We happened to arrive in time for ‘Ninth hour Poojava.’ which is also the time that Buddha’s tooth relic is open for the public to see, so there was a bit of a wait getting into the temple.
After you enter the temple you can really hear the noise of the drums and you shuffle along in the queue throughout the temple, there is no stopping. Andrew and the boys did get a glimpse of the gold casket housing the tooth relic, but Ava, Max and I were unable to see above the crowds heads.
In the temple you are also able to see the stuffed remains of Rajah, a famous tusker elephant who was used in ceremonies and died in 1998.
I think a visit to the temple is probably better suited to older teens. The crowds inhibits younger kids from being able to see anything and there is probably not a lot that would interest them, with the exception of perhaps the stuffed elephant.
- Adults $10 USD/Children under 12 – free
- 5.30 am – 8 pm
- Morning Thevava Service (breakfast) – 5.30 am – 7 am
- Ninth hour Poojava (lunch) – 9.30 am – 11 am
- Evening Thevava (evening) – 6.30 pm – 8 pm