Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic – Kandy


The temple, which displays a lot of significance to Buddhists worldwide, additionally has tremendous cultural value. The structure is of a novel Kandyan architectural technique with a mixture of the original style applied to build “Dalada Mandira”, the shrines which housed the Sacred Tooth Relic earlier in different kingdoms.
The temple is placed in the city of Kandy near the ancient Royal Palace, which is situated to the North of the temple and the forest park called “Udawaththa Kelaya” to the East. The famous Kandy Lake is likewise known as “Kiri Muhuda” to the South and “Natha & Paththini Devala” to the West. The temple is decorated with elaborate carvings using gold, silver, bronze and ivory.
Kandy is the last place of the Sacred Tooth Relic of Gautama Buddha. The Sacred relic was taken to Sri Lanka by Princess Hemamala & Prince Dantha from the city of Kalinga in ancient India, while the reign of King Keerthi Sri Meghavarna (Kithsirimevan 301 -328).

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Significance of the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic

The Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic serves as a spiritual sanctuary and holds great cultural value. Its architectural style is a testament to the unique Kandyan tradition, combining elements from the shrines that once housed the Sacred Tooth Relic in various kingdoms throughout history.

Location and Architecture

Situated in Kandy, the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic is surrounded by significant landmarks. To the north lies the ancient Royal Palace, while the Udawaththa Kelaya forest reserve adorns the eastern side. Towards the South, the temple is graced by the famous Kandy Lake, also known as "Kiri Muhuda," to the west, the Natha and Paththini Devala are an essential part of the temple's surroundings. The temple boasts intricate carvings crafted from gold, silver, bronze, and ivory, adding to its grandeur.

History of the Sacred Tooth Relic

The Sacred Tooth Relic found its final abode in the sacred city of Kandy. Princess Hemamala and Prince Dantha brought the relic of the town of Kalinga to ancient India during the reign of King Keerthi Sri Meghavarna. It became a symbol of Sri Lankan kings, always guarded within a particular shrine within the royal palace, regardless of the capital's location. Ruins of these structures remain in ancient capitals such as Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Dambadeniya, Yapahuwa, Kurunegala, Kotte, and Gampola. However, in Kandy, the last kingdom, the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, remains the most revered shrine in the Buddhist world.

Construction and Destruction of Dalada Madura

The first "Dalada Madura" in Kandy, built by King Wimaladharmasuriya I during his reign from 1592 to 1604, fell victim to the Portuguese invasions. The second temple was constructed in the exact location of King Rajasinghe II, only to be burnt down by the Dutch. King Wimaladharmasuriya II, the son of King Wimaladharmasuriya I, later built a three-storeyed Dalada Madura, but it gradually decayed and was destroyed. Finally, King Sri Veera Parakrama Narendrasinghe, reigning from 1707 to 1739, erected the two-storeyed Dalada Madura that we can witness today. The South Indian kings who ruled the country from Senkadagala renovated and protected the shrine initially built by King Narendrasinghe. King Keerthi Sri Rajasinghe further enhanced the temple's beauty during his reign, and King Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe constructed the Paththirippuwa or the Octagonal Pavilion, between 1798 and 1815.

Protection and Rituals

To this day, the protection and religious rituals of the Sacred Tooth Relic continue under the watchful eyes of the three chief custodians: the Most Venerable Mahanayake Theros of the Malwatta and Asgiriya chapters, and the lay custodian, the Diyawadana Nilame. These custodians ensure the uninterrupted preservation of the Sacred Tooth Relic and conduct various religious ceremonies to honour its significance.

The Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic stands as an extraordinary testament to the rich cultural and religious heritage of Sri Lanka. Its importance as a spiritual centre and its historical value as the custodian of Gautama Buddha's left tooth make it a revered place for Buddhists worldwide. The architectural splendour and the rituals conducted within its walls continue to captivate visitors, offering a glimpse into the profound spiritual traditions that have endured for centuries.


  1. How old is the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic? The Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic has a long history of several centuries. However, the current structure has been in existence since the 18th century.
  2. Is the Sacred Tooth Relic accessible to the public? While the Sacred Tooth Relic is not directly accessible to the public, visitors can view the relic from a distance within the temple complex.
  3. What are the opening hours of the temple? The Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic is usually open for visitors from early morning until late evening. However, checking the official opening hours is recommended as they may vary.
  4. Are there any restrictions for visitors? Visitors are expected to dress modestly and respectfully. It is customary to remove footwear before entering the temple premises. Photography and videography may be restricted in certain areas.
  5. Can visitors take photographs inside the temple? Photography may be permitted in certain designated areas of the temple. However, it's advisable to follow the guidelines provided by the temple authorities to ensure the preservation of the sacred space.



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