It was drizzling as I sat at the corner of the beautiful Kandy Lake. The setting was picture perfect. Overcast sky, a gentle breeze caressing the water of the pristine lake, flowers in full bloom. The sight of the ‘Temple of the Tooth relic’, located at the north end of the lake, was looking as inviting as ever. Just a glimpse of the temple roof was enough to harmonize my emotions. And so I began my walk towards the complex, hoping to experience the divinity first hand.
You are required to wear clothes that cover your legs and shoulders to enter the compound. There are many vendors selling clothes on rent at the entrance itself.
It is a large complex indeed. Apart from the main shrine, there are several others temples and buildings with religious and historical importance.
The city of Kandy has been declared a UNESCO World heritage site, and the Temple of the sacred tooth has played a vital role in it. As the name suggests, the temple houses the relic of the tooth of Lord Buddha. Located in the royal palace complex of the former Kingdom of Kandy, it is considered that whoever holds the relic, holds the governance of the country……
As the legend goes, after Lord Buddha attained nirvana, his tooth relic was preserved in Kalinga. King Guhasiva instructed his daughter, Princess Hemamali and her husband Prince Dantha, to smuggle the tooth relic to Ceylon.
They landed in Sri Lanka in the early third century, and handed over the relic to King Sirimeghavanna of Anuradhapuram. Over the centuries, it passed on through many hands, and many kingdoms had the privilege of keeping it in their custody. The present day temple was built by Vira Narendra Sinha.
There were many additions to the temple complex in the coming years. The famous Kandyan architect, Devendra Mulacharin designed the octagonal Patthirippuwa during the reign of Sri Vikrama Rajasinha. Now a libraray, the structure was originally used by the kings for recreational activities.
Such is the aura, that just a step inside felt like an entry into trance. I could actually feel the divinity in the air. A sense of calmness took over my mind and slowly and steadily I was able to make out what the word ‘spirituality’ truly stands for..It could be seen in the eyes of the worshippers, who were lying in front of inner chamber, patiently waiting for the daily rituals to commence.
The rituals are performed thrice daily: at dawn, at noon and in the evenings. On every Wednesdays, the relic is bathed with a herbal preparation, made from scented water and fragrant flowers. The water is then distributed among the present worshippers.
During the prayers, the chamber housing the tooth relic remains open to the worshippers. I could not, however, see the tooth, as it’s always kept in a gold casket…
Apart from the main shrine, there are several other significant structures inside the complex.
- The Royal palace of Kandy (Built between the 14th-15th century AD)
- Audience Hall (where the Kandyan kings held their court)
- National Museum of Kandy
- International Buddhist Museum
I was truly mesmerized with the vibes of the complex, the vibes of transcendence, the vibes of divinity, of positivity. Just a 2 hour meet with the temple enlightened me, and further strengthened my belief in the teachings of Buddha. The complex radiates energy, and at the same time soothes your conscience with calmness that is extremely difficult to find in the outside world.
I do not see the Temple of the tooth as just a tourist attraction. It’s much more than that. It’s a rendezvous with devotion, a conversation with your inner self….