The History

The sacred Temple of Tooth is a world-renowned place of worship where the left canine tooth of the Lord Buddha is placed. This holy place, which is venerated by local and foreign devotees every day, was named as a world heritage in 1988 by UNESCO.

The Temple of Tooth at the final location of the Sacred Kandy is Tooth (Left Canine) of the Buddha, which was brought to Sri Lanka during the reign of King KirtisriMegahavanna (301-328) by Prince Danta and Princess Hemamala from the kingdom of Kalinga, India. It became the paladium of the Sri Lankan Kings and was preciously guarded in a special Shrine built within the precincts of the royal palace, wherever the capital was located. The ruins of such edifices remain in ancient capitals of Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Dambabeniya, Yapahuwa, Kurunegala, Kotte and Gampola, while at Kandy, the last capital, the Sacred Tooth Relic Temple continues to be the greatest Shrine that receives the utmost veneration of the Buddhist world.

Vimaladharmasuriya I (1590-1604) was the first King who brought the Tooth Relic to Kandy from Delgamuwa, Ratnapura, and located it in a three-storeyed Shrine within the Palace complex. Thereafter, due to various disturbances which resulted in disrepair and decay, the King that followed removed the Tooth Relic to safer locations such as Medamahanuwara or Kundasale. New Shrines were built by Kings such as Senarat, Rajasinha II and Vimaladharmasuriya II.

The present two-storied Shrine is said to have been built by King Narendrasinghe (1707-1739). Keerthi Sri Rajasinghe (1747- 1781), great benefactor of Buddhism, was responsible for several renovations and embellishments to the Tooth Relic Shrine, including the building of a Shrine known as PallemaleViharaya. The last King of Kandy, Sri VikramaRajasinghe (1798-1815) beautified the Dalada Maligawa by the construction of the Octagon (Pattirippuwa). The British Government too, at the timeof signing the Kandyan Convention, agreed to protect the Sacred Tooth Relic and conduct all religious services without a break, and these are being carried out to the present day under the strict surveillance of the three chief custodians of the Tooth Relic, the most Venerable Mahanayakes of Malwatta and Asgiriya and the lay custodian, the Diyawadana Nilame.

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