The Ultimate Guide to Sri Dalada Maligawa | A Complete Visitor’s Handbook

Sri Dalada Maligawa

The left Tooth of Gautama Buddha is at the famous Temple of the Tooth Relic. Another name for Sri Dalada Maligawa is the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic. This Temple is in Sri Lanka’s Kandy. In Kandy, Sri Lanka, there is a significant Buddhist temple called the Temple of the Tooth, or Sri Dalada Maligawa. If you are curious why Dalada Maligawa is essential, many believe it houses the Tooth of Lord Buddha, making it a well-known religious site.

A unique location called Sri Dalada Maligawa protects a left tooth that the Buddha considered in the greatest regard. Kandy’s royal palace complex contains the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic. Because they recognized its significance, ancient rulers adored and protected it. From 1592 until 1815, Kandy, surrounded by protecting hills, was the capital of the Sinhala kings. The Temple of the Tooth Relic and nearby temples are so historically significant that UNESCO acknowledged them as a World Heritage site.

Sri Dalada Maligawa is a significant religious and cultural site in the heart of Kandy. People from different backgrounds, not just Buddhists, can benefit from this site. People treat it with significant consideration and respect. The Temple is the focal point of the beautiful Esala Perahera parade, which honors history and commitment. This UNESCO World Traditions site is a must-do for everyone visiting the beautiful city of Kandy, as it provides insight into Sri Lanka’s history, culture, and traditional customs. 

Mystical Heritage and Sri Dalada Maligawa History

According to legend, Prince Dantha and Princess Hemamali carried the sacred tooth relic to the island of Gautama Buddha after he attained Maha Parinirvana, fulfilling King Guhasiva’s orders to keep it safe in Kalinga. The relic was hidden in Princess Hemamali’s hair while traveling to the island. They handed the tooth relic to King Sirimeghavanna of 301-328 when they arrived in Lankapattana. It was set up in a temple at Meghagiri Vihara (now Isurumuniya) in Anuradhapura by King Sirimeghavanna. The King was assigned to protect the relic as a mark of his power to rule the island.

Several kings, notably those of the Kingdom of Polonnaruwa, the Kingdom of Dambadeniya, and the Anuradhapura Kingdom built temples dedicated to tooth relics near their royal palaces. The relic was at Niyamgampaya Vihara during the period of the Kingdom of Gampola. During the Kotte Kingdom, the Temple was within Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte in historical writings such as Hamsa, Gira, and Selalihini.

In Ratnapura’s Delgamuwa Vihara, the relic was under a grinding stone during the reign of Dharmapala of Kotte. Later on, Devanagala Rathnalankara Thera and Hiripitiye Diyawadana Rala brought it to Kandy. For the now-gone relic, King Vimaladharmasuriya I erected a two-story structure. It was relocated to Meda Mahanuwara in Dumbara in 1603 amid a Portuguese invasion. Built by Vira Narendra Sinha, the current Temple was recovered during the reign of Rajasinha II. During Sri Vikrama Rajasinha’s reign, the octagonal Paththirippuwa and moat were added, designed by royal architect Devendra Moolacharya.

The magnificent Sri Dalada Maligawa Perahera

Kandy, Sri Lanka, hosts the Kandy Esala Perahera, or the Festival of the Tooth, in July and August each year. This significant event celebrates the Buddha’s Sacred Tooth Relic at Sri Dalada Maligawa. The procession, which celebrates a unique icon of Sri Lanka, includes performances of whip-dance attire, fascinating fire dances, and traditional local dances. The Diya-kepeema ceremony, a traditional water-cutting ceremony done at the Mahaweli River in Getambe, Kandy, marks the end of the festivities. The vibrant Kandy Esala Perahera, which has strong roots in Sri Lanka’s religious and cultural legacy, attracts locals and tourists to enjoy its many traditions.

The Esala and Dalada Peraheras are two closely related parades, and together, they make up the Esala Perahera. People carried out the Esala Perahera, a rain-requesting rite, to please the gods as early as the third century BC. As a case in point, the Dalada Perahera dates back to the fourth century CE, when the Buddha’s Sacred Tooth Relic made its way from India to Sri Lanka, some eight hundred years after the Buddha’s death. According to legend, the Tooth Relic was carried to Sri Lanka in a procession by Princess Hemamala and Prince Dantha. The vibrant and historically significant Kandy Esala Perahera in the Sri Dalada Maligawa results from this confluence of traditional traditions.

The role of four Devales

The four Devales dedicated to the guardian deities Natha, Vishnu, Katharagama, and the goddess Pattini are the site of the Kap Situveema or Kappa, which marks the start of the Kandy Esala Perahera. It involves the ceremonial cutting and planting of a dedicated young Jackfruit tree. This ritual celebrates the beginning of the colorful and culturally significant Esala Perahera in Kandy, Sri Lanka; it is a sacred and spiritual ritual to pour blessings onto the King and citizens.

The “Devale Peraheras” occurs inside the four Devales’ grounds over five nights. 

The priest of each Devale leads the parade, accompanied by drumming, flag bearers, music, and the sacred Ran Ayudha. The sixth night marks the start of the five-day Kumbal Perahera. It begins before Sri Lanka’s most important Buddhist shrine, the Temple of the Tooth. The Natha Devale, Vishnu Devale, Katharagama Devale, and Pattini Devale will participate in processions on the upcoming nights. Cannonballs fired mark significant occasions, such as the start and finish of the Peraheras. The festivities end at the Mahaweli River with a water-cutting ceremony for the Diya Kepeema and Day Perahera.

Monks from the Asgiriya and Malwatta performed ceremonies involving the Tooth Relic. 

The Diyawadana Nilame, who is in charge of planning the Perahera, brings together representatives of the Temple and assigns duties for the ceremonies. The drummers are under the direction of Panikka Mura Baarakaruwo, while the Nekath Mohottala set the fortunate time. Basnayake Nilames organizes Devale processions, and officials collaborate with elephant owners to produce dance groups.

Sacred Glamor:The Maligawa Perahera

Whip crackers led the procession, their whip cracking announcing the arrival of the magnificent show. Flag-bearers follow, flying the national flag and the flags of various temples and provinces. A touch of ceremony is added to the procession when the official Peramunerala, riding on the first elephant, carries the Sacred Temple of the Tooth’s enrollment.

Duties of the Drummers and Traditional Dancers

The beautiful movements of traditional dancers and the rhythmic sounds of conventional drums create a fascinating atmosphere. The Gajanayaka Nilame has historically symbolized high-ranking ministers in the King’s stable, the officer in charge of the elephants, who follows on a tusker behind bars. The Kariyakorawnarala, who oversees the drummers and dancers, gives the procession even more cultural depth.

The Maligawa Tusker and the Sacred Tooth Relic

The main attraction is the Maligawa Tusker, glowing and dressed with caparisons, bearing the golden casket known as the ‘Karaduwa.’ The Buddha’s Sacred Tooth Relic, the most revered treasure, is kept in this sacred casket. The Tusker walks magnificently, a white fabric overlaying the path to signify the importance of the occasion and an umbrella raised aloft. As the Tusker passes, worshippers and spectators look in amazement, conveying a strong sense of spirituality.

Regal elegance of Randoli Perahera

The Randoli Perahera is an even larger performance over five days after the Kumbal Perahera. Kandy comes alive and well during this time, attracting locals and visitors. There are more than fifty elephants, tuskers, and an array of drummers, dancers, singers, and pilgrims in beautiful clothes.

The Energetic Night Performance of Kumbal Perahera 

Five days later, the Devale Perahera joins in front of the Temple of the Tooth to begin the Kumbal Perahera. The following nights, we find Devale Peraheras on the site of four Devales celebrating guardian gods. Cannonball fire marks significant occasions, such as the start and finish of the Perahera.

Buddhist and Hindu ceremonies of Devale Perahera

The Devale Perahera, held on the grounds of four Devales worshiping guardian gods, takes place throughout the first five days of the Perahera. Every Devale procession, including Buddhist and Hindu ceremonies, brings unique cultural importance, including Natha, Vishnu, Katharagama, and Pattini. The three-hour show combines traditional customs with a static image of the ‘rajakariya’ state service system.

Journey of Modern Perahera

The Perahera took on its present state during the time of King Kirthi Sri Rajasinghe. During King Kirthi Sri Rajasinghe’s rule, the Tooth Relic, once owned only by the King, became public and is now considered sacred. This significant move emphasized the event’s cultural significance and increased accessibility, marking a turning point in the event’s history. The alterations that occurred under the rule of King Kirthi Sri Rajasinghe emphasized the Perahera’s development into a highly valued public performance. This tradition still attracts and connects Sri Lankans today.

Diya Kepeema and Day Perahera

The four Devale Peraheras head to the Getambe Mahaveli River for the Diya Kepeema ceremony after their final Perahera ends. As part of the traditional water-cutting ceremony, chief priests create a sacred circle with a golden sword after stepping into the river. This historic day marks the end of the celebrations. After that, the Peraheras parade through the streets of Kandy on their way back. The Maligawa Perahera is the grand finale that brings the annual Kandy Esala Festival to a magnificent conclusion. The proud return to Kandy, the symbolic journey to the river, and the water-cutting ceremony embody the spirituality and cultural variety of the entire Perahera experience, representing the deeply rooted customs of Sri Lanka.

Sri Dalada Maligawa Entrance Fee

The Kandy Tooth Relic Temple has several entrance costs for different age and nationality groups. The entrance charge covers access to the Tooth Relic Temple, Dalada Museum, World Buddhist Museum, and Tusker Museum. While non-SAARC foreign kids enter free of charge, adults from other countries must pay 2000 LKR. Children join free of charge for SAARC foreign adults and visitors from Thailand and Myanmar who pay 1500 LKR. 

Free entrance is for local adults, local kids, and all newborns and children. The Tooth Relic Temple includes ticket machines at the entrance where visitors from other countries can buy tickets. Visitors can visit the Temple from 5:30 am to 7:30 pm, whereas the museums have different hours of function. The pooja (worship) sessions are open to you in the morning, midday, and evening.

Architectural Marvel: Sri Dalada Maligawa Paththirippuwa

The Paththirippuwa, sometimes called the Octagonal Pavilion, is a stunning example of Sri Lankan architecture at the Kandy Maligawa (Palace) entrance. It was built in 1802 by the royal architect Devendra Moolacharya for King Sri Vickrama Rajasingha; it functioned as a venue for the King to present the holy tooth relic, celebrate temple holidays, and give speeches to his subjects on essential occasions. The octagonal design symbolized the King who stood at the center of the world. It served as an oriental library during the British era and now holds the Temple’s collection of antiquated palm leaf Buddhist books and manuscripts.  

The elegance of the Royal Palace of Kandy

The kings of the Kandyan Kingdom lived in the old Royal Palace of Kandy in Sri Lanka’s Kandy until the British took over in 1815. The beautiful woodwork, stone designs, and wall paintings that characterize its traditional Kandyan buildings are well-known. The complex includes the Auditorium, the King’s Palace, the Queen’s Palace, and the Temple of the Tooth Relic, a large Buddhist temple with a worldwide reputation. UNESCO the Temple of the Tooth and the surrounding palace complex as World Heritage Sites.

The Royal Palace’s history covers various eras and rulers. Vickramabahu III placed the first building orders in the fourteenth century. Vimaladharmasuriya I’s renovations date back to the late 16th century. Portuguese conquerors destroyed the palace, posing problems for the early 17th century. In 1634, Rajasinha II painstakingly rebuilt it despite this.

During the time of King Vimaladharmasuriya I, Portuguese architecture impacted the palace’s design, which was from its original location. Foreign accounts from that era paint a different picture of the palace than the present.

The Kandy Royal Palace tells the tale of kings, invasions, and reconstructions, much like a time capsule. It is now a UNESCO-recognized resource, welcoming visitors to explore the attraction and history of Kandy’s royal heritage.

Details of Royal Palace of Kandy Entrance

Entrance time and fee 

Sri Lanka’s Royal Palace of Kandy is a fascinating historical attraction that invites visitors and locals from 8 am to 4 pm, offering an overview of the region’s rich cultural heritage. Saturdays and Sundays are closed, but visitors spike in the afternoons at the palace.

There is an entrance fee for individuals interested in this historical beauty; however, this can vary according to the palace authorities’ decision. At present, children can visit free of charge, which makes it a suitable place for families. Adult admission is 1000 LKR, so people eager to learn more about Sri Lanka’s royal history can do so at an affordable price. For an extra 300 LKR price, visitors with video cameras can record the history and beauty of the palace walls.

Vivid attractions of Royal Palace

Numerous attractions and events are available for visitors to enjoy at the Royal Palace of Kandy. You must explore the architectural treasures of this historical place to enjoy it fully. The Queen’s Chamber, Concubine’s Quarters, Council Chambers, and Armory Department are examples of the Kandyan era’s beauty and magnificence. Every palace complex area has its own story, emphasizing the region’s historical and cultural significance.

The Temple of the ToothTooth is located within the palace complex and is hard to miss. Monks use the interior places of this sacred Temple as a place of dedication where they perform three daily rituals. The Tooth of Buddha is to be kept in the Temple, giving the Royal Palace an air of commitment and respect.

Museum of the Royal Palace 

The Archaeological Museum, which possesses many antiquities that were initially a part of the royal collections, is situated within the palace. The magnificent artwork covering the museum’s gates encourages visitors to explore Kandy’s rich heritage. The Kandyan era’s legacy is for future generations through exhibits, including crafts, wood drawings, planters, and everyday items of kings and queens. It offers a fascinating historical journey and a look into the daily activities and rituals of the royalty.

The Royal Park, located inside the royal walls, offers tourists an enchanting and attractive experience. This well-kept park gives a breathtaking view of Kandy Lake and a calm resting setting. The park’s incredible panoramas and peaceful surroundings are well worth the 100 LKR entry cost for non-locals.

The Kandy Royal Palace is more than just a physical building—it is a vibrant reminder of Sri Lanka’s famous past. Every feature of the palace complex, including the ancient Temple of the Tooth, the peaceful Palace Park, and the exquisitely decorated rooms, adds to the whole immersive experience. Travelers experience the beauty of the Kandyan era and gain an in-depth knowledge of Sri Lanka’s cultural heritage as they journey.

Wrapping up

The Maligawa is a precious resource not only for Buddhists but also for all of Sri Lanka. The Kandy Esala Perahera showcases Sri Lanka’s rich religious diversity and cultural heritage in its vibrant procession. This majestic procession remains an example of balance, spirituality, and cultural pride—from the ancient traditions embedded in the Devale Peraheras to the modern openness started by King Kirthi Sri Rajasinghe. The Kandy Esala Perahera is an unequaled cultural event that attracts the hearts of both locals and visitors with its distinctive combination of Buddhist and Hindu themes and display of traditional arts. If you visit Kandy, take advantage of the opportunity to watch the Esala Perahera and see the Maligawa.


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