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Home > Heritage > Kandy > Sri Dalada Maligawa

Sri Dalada Maligawa

- (Temple of the Tooth Relic) -

Temple of tooth relic, Dalada Maligawa, Pattirippuwa, paththirippuwa
Pathirippuwa of the Dalada Maligawa with the clouds wall running around it

Temple of tooth relic, Dalada Maligawa, Pattirippuwa, paththirippuwa
Dalada Maligawa with the clouds wall running around it
Temple of tooth relic, Dalada Maligawa, Maha Vahalkada
"Maha Vahalkada", the main entrance to the temple
Temple of tooth relic, Dalada Maligawa, Pattirippuwa, paththirippuwa
Pattirippuwa, where the king addressed his countrymen
Temple of tooth relic, Dalada Maligawa
Pallemaluwa of the Temple and the daily rituals
Temple of tooth relic, Dalada Maligawa, Pattirippuwa, paththirippuwa
Inside Pattirippuwa

Temple of tooth relic, Dalada Maligawa
Floral designs on the roof of the ground floor (pallemaluwa)

Temple of tooth relic, Dalada Maligawa
The new stupa house

View of Dalada Maligawa across the lake during day time

View of Dalada Maligawa across the lake during the night
(Photographer not known)

Kandy was the capital of the Sinhalese Kings from 1592 to 1815. Fortified by a terrain of mountains and the difficult approach Kandy managed to operate in independence from Dutch, Portuguese and the English till 1815. The city is a world heritage site declared by UNESCO, in part due to this temple.

The Sri Dalada Maligawa or The Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic is a temple in the city of Kandy in Sri Lanka. It was built within the royal palace complex which houses the one of the two surviving relic of the tooth of Buddha, an object of veneration for Buddhists. The other tooth relic is believed to be enshrined in a stupa called Somawathi Chethiya.

The Sri Dalada Maligawa in Kandy, the temple which houses the Sacred Tooth Relic of The Buddha, is possibly the most sacred Buddhist shrine in the world. It is venerated not only by Buddhists in Sri Lanka but by Buddhists all over the world.

King Wimaladharmasuriya I (1592 - 1603), the first to select Kandy as the ruling capital originally built a two storied Temple for the Relic and brought the tooth relic from Delgamuwa near Kuruwita in Sabaragamuwa which has been hidden for protection. Remains of this temple no longer exist. Wimaladharmasuriya II (1686 - 1706) built a three storied temple and his son king Viraparakrama Narendrasinha (1706 - 1738), the last Sinhalese king to rule the country, built a new two storied temple temple seeing that the old temple built by his father has decayed. The last king of Sri lanka, Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe (1797 - 1814) built the Pattirippuwa (the Octagon). Originally, the Pattirippuwa (octagon) was part of the royal palace. It was used by the king to address his follow countrymen. Today the Pattirippuwa has become a part of the temple and houses ancient textures written in ola leaves.

The entrance to the temple complex is through the "Maha Vahalkada". There are two walls on the sides of the "Vahalkada". The outer wall is called "Walakulu Bamma" (wall of clouds). This same pattern is also used in the wall surrounding the Kandy lake. The inner wall is called "Diyareli Bamma" (wall of water ripples). Both these walls are built with holes to place oil lanterns during the night.

After passing the "Vahalkada" and the moat, you come to a "Makara Thorana". Next is the tunnel "ambarawa". Passing this you come to the ground floor of the temple complex. The lower floor of the building called "pallemaluwa". This inner chamber is fortified with a large wooden door and decorated with bronze and ivory. The area in front of the door is called the "Hevisi Mandapaya" (Drummers Courtyard) where the daily rituals are carried out.

The tooth relic is kept in the upper floor in the chamber called "Vadahitina Maligawa" The door ot this chamber is covered with gold silver and ivory. The tooth relic is encased in seven gold caskets studded with precious stones. The outer casket is studded by precious stones offered to the tooth relic by various rulers.

On the right to the relic is the "Perahara Karanduwa" (relic chamber used in the annual Asala Mangalaya perahara procession) kept inside a bullet proof glass display. This has been donated by India. Over the relic chamber there is a golden lotus flower studded with precious stones hanging from the ceiling.

On to the left of the temple is the new building which houses the taxidermised remains of the Maligawa Tusker - Raja. This magnificent tusker was captured in the jungles of Eravur in the Batticaloa District 1925. He was purchased by Tikiri Banda Manampitiya Dissawe for Rs 3,300/- in 1937 and was donated to the temple by him. For over 50 years Raja carried the golden casket which carried the tooth relic and in 1984 he was declared as a national treasure by the government. This is only the second time a tusker has been declared a national treasure. Raja died In 1988 after a long illness and then it was decided that he to be taxidermised. This is first time a tusker has been taxidermised.


National Museum

Temple of tooth relic, Dalada Maligawa, tusker, raja
taxidermised tusker

The new image house (Photographer not known)

(Photographer not known)

Next to the Temple of the Tooth, the Kandy National Museum once housed the concubines of the Kings of Kandy and now contains a clutter of royal and noble relics including thrones, scepters and ceremonial swords, dating from the 17th and 18th centuries, before the kingdom's final decline. It was here that the Kandyan chiefs finally surrendered to the British in 1815. After inviting them in to depose the unpopular king Sri Wickrama Rajasinha, the rebel chiefs attempted to dismiss the British with perfunctory thanks, only to find that their new rulers had no intention of leaving. The museum is open Saturday-Thursday 09:00-17:00.

LTTE Terrorist Attack on the Temple in 1998

The hole crated by the tuck bomb in front of maha vahalkada - the main entrance

This temple, the most sacred buddhist temple for all the Buddhists in the world was attacked by the Tamil LTTE terrorists using a massive truck bomb in 25th January 1998 killing 8 people including a infant and injuring 15. This is probably the first time in contemporary world history that a sacred shrine of such international religious significance and a site of world heritage has been deliberately targeted by a terrorist group in the world in an attempt to bring about its destruction.

Destruction caused by the LTTE terrorist attack

destruction in front of maha vahalkada - the main entrance

The blast caused extensive damage to most areas of the Sri Dalada Maligawa. However, the Sacred Tooth Relic which is housed in the inner chamber miraculously escaped any damage. Also the extensively damaged by the blast were the Vishnu, Natha and Pattini Devales (Shrines) and St. Paul's Church all of which are located in the 'Sacred and Royal Square', adjacent to the Sri Dalada Maligawa complex.






Photos of Dalada Maligawa from the past ( from Images of Ceylon )


Temple of Tooth Relic 1860

Temple of Tooth Relic 1860
Main Entrance (Vahalkada) of
Dalada Maligawa


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Updated July 21, 2007
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