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 had 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 had 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 “Diyareli Bamma” (‘wall of water ripples’). This same pattern is also used in the wall surrounding the Kandy lake. The inner wall is called “Walakulu Bamma” (‘wall of clouds’). 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.