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Sri Dalada Maligawa The Temple of Tooth Relic

Kandy, Ancient Central, Sri Lanka.
Location : Kandy
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Overview


After the passing away (parinirvana) of Gautama Buddha, one of the tooth relic (the left canine) was given to the king of Kalinga in Eastern India by a monk. Though Kalinga kings preserved the relic as a great object of veneration, various forces came forward to destroy and at times to posses the sacred relic. King Guhasiva of Kalinga is the last Indian ruler to possess the Tooth relic and he decided to send the tooth relic to his friend in Ceylon at the risk of losing the battle. Thus his daughter princess Hemamala and her husband Dantha secretly brought it to the island. It is said that the princess carried the Relic hidden within her coiffure.  They landed in the island in Lankapattana during the reign of King Keerthi Sri Meghavarna (301-328) and handed over the tooth relic. The king enshrined it Meghagiri Vihara  in Anuradhapura. Safeguard of the relic was a responsibility of the ruler, therefore over the years the custodianship of relic became to symbolize the right to rule. Therefore reigning monarchs built the tooth relic temples quite close to their royal residences, since Anuradhapura era and the custom was followed by Polonnaruwa, Dambadeniya, Yapahuwa and Kurunegala kingdoms.

During the reign of King Dharmapala, the relic kept hidden in Delgamuwa Vihara, Ratnapura in a grinding stone. King Wimaladharmasuriya I (1592 - 1603), who chose the sity of Kandy as his kingdom, originally built a two storied Temple for the Relic and brought the tooth relic from Delgamuwa Viharaya. 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.
 
Pattirippuwa
Pattiripuwa, the octagon building that stands beside the temple was build during the reign of King Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe (1798-1815) along with its moat. It was planned by Devendra Mulachariya. Pattirippuwa was originally built for the King to address the public and also to see the perahera (procession) as well as other events held at Maha Maluwa. Later the building was used as the oriental library during English governance. In 1966 it was handed in to the Ceylon government and now the upper floor of pattirippuwa contains “puskola poth” (ancient manuscripts on palm leaves) while the ground floor is a buddhist book shop.
          
There are the main wahalkada(entrance) and the moat in front of pattirippuwa. The moat is surrounded by the brick walls known as the cloud wall and the water wave whose shape has given them those names. The purpose of making holes on those walls is to light the oil lamps in them as there was no electric power in those times.    

There is a flight of steps when you walk a little to the right, from the Wahalkada. Those steps end at the entrance of the temple. There you find a stone door frame where the Makara thorana (dragon arch) and the figures of guardsmen are carved into it. It leads to a place called Ambarawa which looks like a tunnel. Ambarawa ends at the Hevisi

Mandapaya(the place where set apart for the beating of drums and other forms of traditional music performed during ritual service hours). In both sides of walls of Ambarawa, there are decorative paintings of lotus flowers and the images of Mohottalas who carry flowers in their hand. The canopy is also filled with diverse paintings of lotus flowers. These paintings have been repainted recently.
 
The Temple of Sacred Tooth Relic.
It is said that the temple, built by king Wimaladharmasuriya II was destroyed and later king Narendrasinghe had used its sacred assets and stone carvings for the second temple that he had built.

There are three entrances for the temple. The ground floor is named as “Pallemaalaya” and the upper floor where the relic is deposited is known as “Udamaale” or “Wadasitina maalaya”. There are two chambers in the ground floor, and the offerings made to the sacred Tooth Relic were kept in those chambers. The upper floor consists of three chambers. First and second are known as “Handun kudama” while the third chamber is “wadasitina maligaya” which dwells the sacred relic. The relic is encased in seven gold caskets studded with gems. The door frame of this chamber is decorated with ivory carvings.

Daily rituals are performed three times a day. 32 vegetables are cooked for alms and in the evening various medicinal drinks like koththamalli, tea, fruit juice, with beetle and banana are offered as Buddhist's believe treating Buddha's relic is like treating Buddha alive.
 
New palace
New palace consists of two newly built buildings that had been built enclosing the temple. These buildings were built in 1936 following the ancient architectural tradition.
 
Maha Maluwa
The lawn in front of the Dalada Maligawa is known as Maha maluwa. This was the compound of ancient royal complex. In those times people assembled here to meet their king and now the ground provides a resting place for the ones who visit the Maligawa. The memorial monument of Madduma Bandara, statues of prince Dantha and princes Hemamala, and a monument which dwells the skull of Keppetipola Nilame, features of attraction in Maha Maluwa.
 
The Library of Dalada Maligawa
The library was built during the period of the English Governor William Gregory. There are many ‘puskola poth’(ancient manuscripts on palm leaves) that were looted by Englishmen from the temples. It is a collection of about 2000 manuscripts and most of them are religious books older more than 150 years. ‘Bhejjaya Manjusava’ written by Walivita Sri Saranankara Thero, Thai thripitaka printed in Thailand in 18th century and the books printed in England stone printer are some rare books that are kept in this library. Although the library was located in the Pattirippuwa , after the bomb attack in 1998 it was moved and reestablished in a separate place. 
 
The Tusker Raja’s Museum
In this museum, the figure of the Tusker Raja who carried the sacred relic in perahera for more than a half century, is well preserved after his death. This museum is situated in Throne palace (Sinhasana Mandiraya) which belongs to old palace premises. Raja was a tusker who won entire country’s love and named as a national asset in 1986. After Raja’s death his statue was created using his skin and tusk.
 
Museum of Dalada Maligawa
This museum was started recently in the first and second floors of new palace. This is the place where you could gather much information regarding Dalada history. In the museum, you find the photographs that depict the damage done by the bomb blast in 1998, statues of Diyawadana Nilames , the royal attires of the King Keerthi Sri Rajasinghe, and many more with historical value.     
 
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