Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic

sights / Religious

Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic information

Kandy , Sri Lanka
adult/child Rs 1000/free, video camera Rs 300, World Buddhism Museum admission Rs 500
Opening hours
temple 5.30am-8pm, puja 5.30-6.45am, 9.30-11am & 6.30-8pm, World Buddhism Museum 8am-7pm, Sri Dalada Museum 7.30am-6pm
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Just north of the lake, the golden-roofed Temple of the Sacred Tooth houses Sri Lanka’s most important Buddhist relic – a tooth of the Buddha.

During puja (offerings or prayers), the heavily guarded room housing the tooth is open to devotees and tourists. However, you don’t actually see the tooth. It’s kept in a gold casket shaped like a dagoba (stupa), which contains a series of six dagoba caskets of diminishing size.

The entire temple complex covers a large area and as well as the main shrine there are numerous other temples and museums within the complex. The following are some of the key sites.

Alut Maligawa

Behind the shrine stands the three-storey Alut Maligawa, a newer and larger shrine hall displaying dozens of sitting Buddhas donated by Thai devotees. The design resembles a Thai Buddhist shrine hall in tribute to the fact that Thai monks re-established Sri Lanka’s ordination lineage during the reign of King Kirti Sri Rajasinha. The upper two floors of the Alut Maligawa contain the Sri Dalada Museum , with a stunning array of gilded gifts to the temple. Letters and diary entries from the British time reveal the colonisers’ surprisingly respectful attitude to the tooth relic. More recent photographs reveal the damage caused by a truck bomb set off by the LTTE in 1998 that destroyed large parts of the temple.

Audience Hall

To the north inside the compound, and accessible only via the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, is the 19th-century Audience Hall, an open-air pavilion with stone columns carved to look like wooden pillars. Adjacent in the Rajah Tusker Hall are the stuffed remains of Rajah, the Maligawa tusker who died in 1988.

World Buddhism Museum

Just behind the main temple, but still inside the complex, is the World Buddhism Museum. Housed inside the former High Court buildings, the museum contains lots of photographs, models and displays illustrating Buddhism around the world. Note that a large number of the statues and other exhibits are actually reproductions.

Freelance guides will offer their services around the entire temple complex for around Rs 500, and free audio guides are available at the ticket office. An elevator facilitates access for travellers with disabilities.

The shrine receives many worshippers and tourists, with fewer tourists in the morning. Wear clothes that cover your legs and your shoulders, and remove your shoes.