Set amid the lush greenery of the Kandyan countryside, long regarded as an important center of Buddhism, is the stunning 17th-century Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic or Sri Dalada Maligawa as it’s known in Sinhala, the home of the country’s most sacred Buddhist relic. The beautiful temple is the custodian of the ancient tooth which is said to belong to Lord Buddha himself. This treasured relic attracts thousands of pilgrims, bearing fragrant blossoms, daily.
The temple is also a tourist hotspot, with hundreds of tourists visiting, thanks to its central location and proximity to several hotels, such as the Hotel Hilltop Kandy, a trendy and comfortable hotel in Kandy, which overlooks the city.
Aside from its spiritual significance, the tooth relic has also played a significant role in politics as it was believed whoever held the relic, held governance over the island. Each successive king guarded the relic in their respective capital before it finally made its way to Kandy, during the reign of King Vimaladharmasuriya. Located inside the royal palace complex, the temple has a humble looking whitewashed exterior with red roofs; however, the interior is another story. Inside the temple halls are elaborate carvings and decorations made of inlaid wood, ivory and lacquer.
The premises include the Royal Palace, Royal court, and an octagonal tower at the front which contains a library of ancient ola leaf manuscripts. The Kandy National Museum and the International Buddhist Museum are located at the back, along with the Rajah Tusker Hall, where the stuffed remains of Rajah, the main tusker are kept on display. The tooth relic is housed within a two-story inner shrine behind two large elephant tusks. While visitors are allowed in to pay their respects, you can’t actually see the relic, as it is permanently encased in a jewelled casket. It’s only moved out of its special chamber once a year, for the Esala Perahara festival. Do keep in mind when visiting; this is a place of worship, so wear clothes that cover your arms and legs. You will also be asked to remove your shoes before entering.Catalina Forbes is a travel writer who bases her content on many thrilling escapades experienced across the world. Google+