View of the temple of the tooth relic during dusk

Temple of the Tooth – A Holy Place in Sri Lanka

This post was last updated on April 9th, 2020 at 09:40 am

If you have always wanted to visit one of the most sacred Buddhist places of pilgrimage in the world, the Temple of the Tooth, also called the Dalada Maligawa, should be on your list. The temple is in the city of Kandy. Thousands of Buddhists come to this temple every day because the tooth of Buddha is kept here.


The Temple of the Tooth is located in the city of Kandy. According to the stories, the tooth of Buddha ended up here after the cremation of Buddha in 543 BC. They removed the tooth from the ashes and it was smuggled inside the hair of an Indian princess in the year 313 to Sri Lanka.


The tooth did not end up in Kandy right away, but over the years it ended up in Kandy via different kings and different cities.


Initially, the tooth was housed in a temple in Anuradhapura, the then capital. Because the tooth was moved so often, temples were built for the tooth in various cities.


Front view of a temple with a woman walking towards it
When you’re walking here you can sense how important this place is for Buddhists


About the Temple

It took until the 16th century before the tooth came to Kandy where it is located today in a (heavily guarded) temple. This temple was built between 1687 and 1707 but was considerably damaged by wars.


The inside of the temple is beautifully decorated with carvings. The tooth itself is unfortunately not visible, because it is stored in 7 golden boxes of consecutive sizes. The outer coffin is shown to pilgrims and tourists three times a day.


Esala Perahera Festival

During the annual Esala Perahera festival, the decorated relic is driven through the streets of Kandy by a decorated elephant. This is a very special parade in which musicians, dancers, and many elephants participate. The tooth is not driven through the street for fear that it will be stolen.


TIP – Entrance to the temple is 1,500 rupees, around US$8.50 per person.


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