Sri Dalada Maligawa: Unveiling Kandy’s Sacred Temple

Welcome to Sri Dalada Maligawa, the revered Temple of the Tooth nestled in the heart of Kandy, Sri Lanka. This sacred site holds the relic of the Buddha’s tooth, making it one of the most significant pilgrimage destinations for Buddhists around the world. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the history, architecture, rituals, and spiritual importance of Sri Dalada Maligawa, offering insights for travelers seeking to explore its sacred halls.

Table of Contents:

The History of Sri Dalada Maligawa

1.1 Origins of the Sacred Tooth Relic

Sri Dalada Maligawa is not just a temple; it is a repository of history and faith. The sacred Tooth Relic of the Buddha was brought to Sri Lanka from India in the 4th century AD. Legend has it that it was hidden within the hair of a princess to protect it from enemies.

1.2 Construction of the Temple

The temple as we see it today was built by King Vimaladharmasuriya I in the 16th century. Over the centuries, it has undergone renovations and additions, becoming the architectural marvel it is now.

The Significance of the Tooth Relic

2.1 Religious Importance

For Buddhists, the Tooth Relic symbolizes the living presence of the Buddha and is venerated as a powerful spiritual object. It is believed to bring blessings and protection to the country.

2.2 Cultural Significance

Beyond its religious significance, the Tooth Relic holds immense cultural importance for Sri Lankans. It is a symbol of national pride and unity, with its possession historically linked to the legitimacy of rulers.

Architecture and Design

3.1 Kandy Esala Perahera: A Spectacle of Culture and Faith

One of the most iconic events associated with Sri Dalada Maligawa is the Kandy Esala Perahera. This grand procession, held annually, showcases traditional dancers, drummers, and adorned elephants parading through the streets to honor the Tooth Relic.

3.2 The Magnificent Shrine of the Tooth Relic

The main shrine of Sri Dalada Maligawa is a testament to Kandyan architecture. Its golden roof, intricate wood carvings, and elaborate paintings depict scenes from Buddhist mythology.

Rituals and Ceremonies

4.1 Daily Pooja Ceremonies

Every day, the temple priests perform rituals known as “Pooja” to honor the Tooth Relic. Visitors can witness these ceremonies, which include offerings of flowers, incense, and chanting.

4.2 Esala Perahera: The Grand Procession

The highlight of the temple’s calendar is the Esala Perahera, a 10-day festival held in July/August. It culminates in a magnificent procession featuring a replica of the casket containing the Tooth Relic, carried on the back of a majestic elephant.

Visiting Sri Dalada Maligawa

5.1 Location and Opening Hours

Sri Dalada Maligawa is located in the heart of Kandy, overlooking the picturesque Kandy Lake. It is open to visitors from early morning to evening, allowing ample time to explore its wonders.

5.2 Dress Code and Etiquette

When visiting the temple, it is important to dress modestly out of respect for the sacred site. Remove your shoes before entering, and refrain from any loud noises or disruptive behavior.

Exploring the Temple Complex

6.1 The Main Shrine Room

Upon entering the temple, visitors are greeted by the main shrine room, where the Tooth Relic is enshrined. The room is adorned with intricate carvings and offers a serene atmosphere for prayer and meditation.

6.2 The Audience Hall (Magul Maduwa)

Adjacent to the main shrine room is the Magul Maduwa, or the Audience Hall. This beautifully decorated hall was once used for royal ceremonies and gatherings.

6.3 The Golden Canopy (Pattirippuwa)

The Pattirippuwa, or Golden Canopy, is a recent addition to the temple complex. It serves as a venue for important religious ceremonies and offers panoramic views of Kandy.

Surrounding Attractions

7.1 Kandy Lake

After your visit to Sri Dalada Maligawa, take a leisurely stroll around Kandy Lake. This scenic lake was built in the 19th century by the last king of Kandy and provides a tranquil escape from the city bustle.

7.2 Udawatta Kele Sanctuary

Nature lovers will enjoy a visit to the Udawatta Kele Sanctuary, located near the temple. This lush forest reserve is home to a variety of flora and fauna, as well as ancient cave dwellings.

Where to Stay in Kandy

For those planning an extended stay in Kandy, there are plenty of accommodation options to choose from. Whether you prefer luxury hotels with views of the temple or budget-friendly guesthouses in the city center, Kandy has something for every traveler.

Getting to Sri Dalada Maligawa

If you’re wondering how to reach Sri Dalada Maligawa, rest assured that it is easily accessible from most parts of Kandy. Tuk-tuks and taxis are readily available, or you can opt for a leisurely walk if you’re staying nearby.

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Tips for a Meaningful Visit

  • Arrive early in the morning to avoid crowds and witness the morning rituals.
  • Take your time to explore the temple complex and soak in its spiritual atmosphere.
  • Respect the customs and traditions of the temple, including removing your shoes before entering.


Sri Dalada Maligawa, the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, stands as a beacon of faith, culture, and history in the heart of Kandy. Its significance goes beyond its architectural beauty, serving as a symbol of Sri Lanka’s spiritual heritage. Whether you’re a traveler seeking cultural insights or a pilgrim on a spiritual journey, a visit to Sri Dalada Maligawa promises a profound experience.

Plan your trip to Sri Dalada Maligawa today and immerse yourself in the sacred atmosphere of this revered temple.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q1: Can visitors see the actual Tooth Relic?

A1: No, the actual Tooth Relic is housed within a golden casket, which is rarely shown to the public. However, visitors can view the outer caskets during certain ceremonies.

Q2: Is photography allowed inside the temple?

A2: Photography is allowed in certain areas of the temple, but it is important to respect the sacredness of the site and refrain from using flash.

Q3: Are there any restrictions on entry for non-Buddhists?

A3: Sri Dalada Maligawa welcomes visitors of all faiths. However, it is essential to dress modestly and adhere to temple etiquette.

Q4: What is the best time to visit Sri Dalada Maligawa?

A4: The temple is busiest during festivals such as the Esala Perahera. For a quieter experience, visit during weekdays in the morning.

Q5: Can visitors attend the daily Pooja ceremonies?

A5: Yes, visitors are welcome to observe the daily Pooja ceremonies. These rituals offer a glimpse into the temple’s spiritual practices.

This article provides a comprehensive guide to Sri Dalada Maligawa, offering historical insights, practical tips for visitors, and suggestions for nearby attractions. The incorporation of internal and external links enhances credibility and provides further resources for interested readers. Alt tags for images are suggested to complement the content’s context and engage users visually.

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