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Kandy City heritage; Temple of the tooth and Royal Palace

Kandy Sri Lanka

  • The Temple is a Buddhist temple in Sri Lankan city of Kandy. It’s situated inside the royal palace compound that contains the historical object of the sacred tooth of Buddha. The relic has played a significant part in local politics since ancient times because it was thought that whoever held the relic held the control of the country. Kandy was Sri Lankan kings’ last capital and mainly because of the temple it is a UNESCO world heritage site.
  • Inside the chamber of the temple, monks of the 2 chapters of Asgiriya and Malwatte worship daily. Rituals are carried out 3 times in a day: at dawn, at noon and in the evenings. Symbolic bathing of the relic with an herbal preparation prepared from fragrant flowers and scented water is performed on Wednesdays. . This holy water is assumed to have healing powers and is shared out among those people who are present.
  • In 1998 the temple suffered damage from LTTE terrorists’ bombardments but was completely renovated each time.


  • Following the Gautama Buddha’s parinirvana, on the instructions of King Guhasiva, her daughter Princess Hemamali and her husband, Prince Dantha preserved the tooth relic and smuggled it to the island. They handed over the tooth relic to King Kirthi Sri Meghavarna who was the king when the couple landed in Lankapattana. The tooth relic was enshrined by the king in Anuradhapura. It was the responsibility of the monarch to safeguard the relic, for that reason throughout the years the responsibility of safeguarding the relic symbolised the entitlement to govern. Hence ruling monarchs constructed the tooth relic temples very near to their regal abodes. The relic was kept in Niyamgampaya Vihara during the era of Gampola’s Kingdom.
  • The relic was hidden in Ratnapura in a grinding stone during the reign of King Dharmapala. Devanagala Rathnalankara Thera and Hiripitiye Diyawadana Rala brought it to Kandy. A two storey building was constructed by King Vimaladharmasuriya to keep the relic. The building has now gone. When the Portuguese attacked Kandy in 1603, it was carried to Dumbara. Vira Narendra Sinha constructed the existing temple of the tooth. Sri Vikrama Rajasinha added moat and the octagonal Patthirippuwa. Renowned architect, Devandra Mulacharin built the Patthirippuwa. Originally the kings used it for recreational undertakings and later on it was presented to the tooth relic. In 1989 it was attacked by the JVP in 1989 and by the LTTE in 1998.


  • The brick wall along the Bogambara Lake and moat is called water waves wall. In this wall holes are built so as to light coconut oil lamps. The main entrance gate is known as Mahawahalkada. In a 1998 bomb blast Mahawahalkada was completely destroyed and reconstructed afterwards. On the either sides of the entrance elephants are shown in stone.
  • There is Hewisi drummers' chamber in front of the main shrine. The lower floor of the main shrine is called "Palle malaya” and the upper floor of the main shrine is called "Weda hitina maligawa". The doors of the Weda Hitana Maligawa are engraved in ivory. The chamber in which the tooth relic is kept is called the "Handun kunama".
  • Other remarkable features include the golden awning constructed in 1987 over the main shrine as well as the golden boundary which surrounds the main shrine. The tooth relic is enclosed in 7 golden strongboxes which are carved with expensive gemstones. The caskets have a contour of a stupa. In the same chamber the Procession casket that is used during the Esala Perahera is also displayed.

Kandy Sri Lanka

Associate Buildings and Structures

Royal Palace

  • The Royal Palace (Maligawa) was the imperial abode of the Kingdom. King Sri Vikrama Rajasinha was the last king to live in the Royal Palace. The British overthrew him in 1815. Once it was part of a big palace which included Bathing Pavilion of Queen (Ulpange), along with the Temple of the Tooth which housed the Historical object of the tooth of the Buddha, King's Harem Quarters (Palle Vahale), Queen's Palace (Meda Wasala), Royal Audience Hall (Magul Maduwa) and King's Palace (Raja Wasala). According to ancient tradition the person who possessed the Tooth Relic was entitled to the throne. The Victorian era building is near the Royal Palace.

History of the Royal Palace

  • King Vickramabahu III (1357-1374) and Senasamatha Vickramabahu (1469-1511) of the Kingdom of Gampola constructed the first palace. After that Vimaladharmasuriya I (1592 – 1603) occupied this palace.
  • The Portuguese attacked the Kandyan Kingdom during the reign of King Senarat (1603 – 1634) and demolished the palace. All the subsequent kings rebuilt it and used this as their Royal Palace till 1815 when the kingdom fell under British rule. By that time the palace comprised of several buildings.
  • Three gateways and a 2.4 metre high wall were used as main entrances. The oldest part is said to be the section of the palace opposite the Natha Devale.