A Spiritual Journey to the Temple of Tooth, Kandy

Temple of Tooth Kandy
Temple of Tooth Kandy

The Temple of Tooth is located in the beautiful green highlands of Kandy Sri Lanka. Also known as Dalada Maligawa, it is one of the most sacred destinations in the world.

The Temple of Tooth combines history and spirituality to create an incomparable center of faith in the country.

So, in this blog post, we will go on a spiritual journey to the Temple of Tooth Kandy.  We will explore its historical significance and the attractions that make it the heart of Sri Lanka’s rich cultural history.

A Brief Overview of the Significance of the Temple of Tooth Kandy

The Royal Palace of Kandyan Kingdom houses the Temple of Tooth today, which contains the tooth relic of Buddha.

Back then, Sinhalese people thought that whoever possessed the tooth relic was the country’s rightful ruler! Therefore, the Temple of Tooth has played a significant role in the country’s politics from the 3rd century BC.

The Temple of Tooth History

The Temple of Tooth has an intriguing history!

According to local archives, the tooth relic was in Kalinga Desha India. Then Princess Princess Hemamali and her husband Prince Dantha brought it to Sri Lanka in the 3rd century BC.

King Kithsirimevan ruled Sri Lanka at the time. He received the tooth relic with a ceremonial parade and enshrined it in the Datadhatughara. Records show it was also in the Meghagiri Vihara (present-day Isurumuniya) of Anuradhapura.

As I mentioned, the local people thought since ancient times that whoever possesses the tooth relic is the country’s rightful ruler. So, the rulers took it to Polonnaruwa after the Anuradhapura kingdom collapsed.

Then it was transferred to Dambadeniya, Yapahuwa, Kotte, and finally to Kandy. King Wimaladharmasuriya I later constructed a two-story structure in Kandy to house the tooth relic; however, the structure is no longer there.

Temple of Tooth Today


King Weera Parakrama Narendrasinghe (1707-1739) was the one who built the exquisite Kandy Temple of Tooth that you see today.

Later on, King Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe (1798-1815) erected the mesmerizing octagonal “Paththirippuwa” to the Temple of the Tooth Relic Kandy. It now serves as the Temple of Tooth’s library, which has many books with historical value.

And it is not only the Temple of Tooth that you will see in Kandy. You can also explore the Royal Palace of Kandyan Kingdom which thrived from the 15th century to 19th century BC!

There are many buildings in the Royal Palace Complex including the Royal Audience Hall, King’s Palace, Queen’s Palace, Lower Palace, and the renowned Temple of Tooth.

Exploring the Temple of Tooth Kandy

Temple of Tooth Relic Sri Lanka

When you enter the temple complex, you will first walk through Ambarawa, a tunnel-shaped hallway. Ambarawa has one of the most vivid paintings at the Temple of the Tooth Relic. The paintings represent eight men dressed in traditional Kandyan attire.

This tunnel eventually connects to the main shrine complex of the Temple of Tooth. You can also see the “Palle Male” (lower floor) temple area and the Paththirippuwa (octagonal complex) on the way to the Temple of Tooth.

Kandy Tooth Relic Temple
Kandy Tooth Relic Temple

The Buddha Tooth Relic Temple is located on the “Uda Male” (Upper Floor). You cannot really see the tooth relic; however, many Buddhists come here daily with offerings like milk rice, and medicinal drinks. They also bring flowers and do prayers here.

Temple of the Tooth Museum

The Temple of Tooth Museum is located on the temple complex’s first and second floors. On the first floor, you can see many historical records, such as a list of Kandyan kings. The second floor contains several things used by previous kings, such as lamps, pots, and jewelry. The most remarkable are King Keerthi Sri Rajasinghe’s costumes, which include a head cover, chest piece, Karavaniya (cotton fabric worn over pants), cotton shirt, and handkerchief.

Raja Tusker Museum

Tooth temple Kandy

After exploring the Buddha tooth relic temple and museum, you will see the Raja Tusker Museum. It is located just past the Royal Audience Hall. The Raja Tusker Museum houses the stuffed remains and images of the Raja Tusker. He participated in the Kandy Esala Perahera for almost 50 years, beginning in 1950. He also served as the sacred casket bearer of the final Randoli Perehera (part of Esala Perehera) for 37 years. You can actually see the image of Raja and his trainer on the LKR 1000 note!

International Buddhist Museum

The International Buddhist Museum (IBM) shows the propagation of Buddhism throughout Asia and other parts of the world. You can see it next to the Temple of Tooth, in the former palace of King Wimaladharmasuriya. Seventeen countries from around the world have donated many Buddhist sculptures, statues, and other items to IBM. This includes Sri Lanka, India, China, Japan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, Cambodia and Bhutan.

National Museum of Kandy

The Kandy National Museum is not a part of the Temple of Tooth. It is located in the old Kandyan Royal Palace Complex. The palace is divided into two sections: The Main Palace Building and the Lower Palace. It has about 5000 items on display, including weapons, jewels, tools, and other artifacts. These items are from the Kandyan Kingdom and date back to the 17th to the 19th centuries. It also houses items from the post-British Colonial era, such as a copy of the 1815 agreement that solidified British authority over all of Sri Lanka.

Spiritual experiences in the Temple of Tooth Kandy

Buddhist Temple of Tooth

You will get a strong sense of spirituality as you enter the Temple of Tooth Complex and approach the main shrine area. The colorful flowers, the light from the oil lamps, and the aromas from the incense stick all contribute to the formation of a mystical atmosphere. It may appear hectic and packed at first, but that is how revered the temple of tooth relic Kandy is. Some travelers even seek out quiet areas within the temple complex to meditate and reflect on their lives.

Daily Rites and Offerings

You can also see the performance of daily rites (Thevava) at the Temple of the Tooth. Typically, the times are 5.30 a.m. in the early morning, 9.30 a.m., and 6.30 p.m. These daily rites are performed as offerings to the Buddha’s tooth relic. During these hours at the Temple of Tooth, you will get the opportunity to have a true spiritual experience with all of the chanting, drumming, and poojas. The temple complex also has four Hindu shrines dedicated to the Hindu gods Natha, Vishnu, Katharagama, and Paththini.

Kandyan Perahera

Kandy Esala Perahera

The Kandy Perahera is one of the most magnificent religious events in Sri Lanka. It is a 10-day event featuring a wonderful parade of Kandyan dancers, drummers, elephants, and other stunt performers (for example, with fire!). The Kandy Perahera pays tribute to Buddha’s tooth relic. It is also called the Kandy Dalada Perahera (relating to the tooth relic). So, when is the Kandy Perahera? The Kandy Esala Perahera is held every year on the streets of Kandy in July and August.

Travel Tips for Temple of Tooth Kandy

  • The Temple of Tooth ticket price is LKR 2000 for foreign adults and LKR 1500 for those from SAARC countries. Children can enter for free.
  • The Temple of Tooth will be packed during certain months of the year (for example, January, July, or August), as well as on Poya days.
  • You must dress modestly (ideally in white or light-colored clothing) because the Temple of Tooth Kandy is a Buddhist sacred site. When entering the temple, both men and women must cover their shoulders and knees.
  • There will be photography restrictions in some areas of the Temple of Tooth. Also, avoid taking photos with your back to Buddha statues or other sacred structures.
  • There are many hotels near the Temple of Tooth Kandy where you can stay. Earl’s Reagent and the Radisson Hotel are two of the most popular Kandy Sri Lanka hotels.
  • You can also check out the Queen’s Hotel, which is one of the top hotels in Kandy Sri Lanka. This is because Queen’s Hotel is only a 5-minute walk to the Temple of Tooth!
  • The weather in Kandy is chilly and wet so pack accordingly. If you travel directly from coastal areas, you will notice the difference in Kandy weather as it changes from 30°C to 26°C.
  • If you are wondering what to do in Kandy Sri Lanka (other than the Temple of Tooth), visit the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kandy Lake, and Udawatte Kele Sanctuary.

Concluding Thoughts…

The Temple of Tooth Kandy is a place where everything merges into one; faith, religion, culture, and even history. And you don’t have to be a Buddhist to visit the Temple of Tooth. So, we hope that your visit to the Temple of the Tooth will leave you with a stronger admiration for the spiritual journeys in Sri Lanka!