The name Sri Dalada Maligawa or the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic is a Buddhist temple in the city of Kandy, Sri Lanka. It is located in the royal palace complex of the former Kingdom of Kandy, which houses the relic of the tooth of the Buddha. Since ancient times, the relic has played an important role in local politics because it is believed that whoever holds the relic holds the governance of the country. Kandy was the last capital of the Sri Lankan kings and is a World Heritage Site mainly due to the temple. Bhikkhus of the two chapters of Malwatte and Asgiriya conduct daily worship in the inner chamber of the temple. Rituals are performed three times daily: at dawn, at noon and in the evenings. On Wednesdays there is a symbolic bathing of the relic with an herbal preparation made from scented water and fragrant flowers called Nanumura Mangallaya. This holy water is believed to contain healing powers and is distributed among those present. The temple sustained damage from bombings by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in 1998 but was fully restored each time.
After the parinirvana of Gautama Buddha, the tooth relic was preserved in Kalinga and smuggled to the island by Princess Hemamali and her husband, Prince Dantha on the instructions of her father King Guhasiva. They landed in the island in Lankapattana during the reign of Sirimeghavanna of Anuradhapura (301-328) and handed over the tooth relic. The king enshrined it Meghagiri Vihara (present day Isurumuniya) in Anuradhapura. Safeguard of the relic was a responsibility of the monarch, 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, as was the case during the times of the Anuradhapura Kingdom, Kingdom of Polonnaruwa, and Kingdom of Dambadeniya. During the era of the Kingdom of Gampola, the relic was housed in Niyamgampaya Vihara. It is reported in the messenger poems such as Hamsa, Gira, and Selalihini that the temple of tooth relic was situated within the city of Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte when the Kingdom of Kotte was established there. During the reign of Dharmapala of Kotte, the relic was kept hidden in Delgamuwa Vihara, Ratnapura, in a grinding stone.It was brought to Kandy by Hiripitiye Diyawadana Rala and Devanagala Rathnalankara Thera. King Vimaladharmasuriya I built a two-storey building to deposit the tooth relic and the building is now gone. In 1603 when the Portuguese invaded Kandy, it was carried to Meda Mahanuwara in Dumbara. It was recovered in the time of Rajasinha II and it has been reported that he reinstate the original building or has built a new temple. The present day temple of the tooth was built by Vira Narendra Sinha. The octagonal Patthirippuwa and moat was added during the reign of Sri Vikrama Rajasinha. Famous Kandyan architect Devandra Mulacharin is credited with building the Patthirippuwa. Originally it was used by the kings for recreational activities and later it was offered to the tooth relic. Now it is a library. It was attacked on two occasions, the 1998 Temple of the Tooth attack by the militant organization Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and the 1989 Temple of the Tooth attack by the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna.
EMBEKKE DEVALAYA IN KANDY
THOUGH MUCH ATTENTION HAS NOT PAID BY THE AVERAGED TOURIST ABOUT THE HISTORY OF THIS PLACE THIS WOULD HAVE BEEN THE FINEST WOOD CARVING WORK IN SRI LANKA. THE DEVALAYA LOCATED IN UDU NUWARA. WAS CONSTRUCTED BY KING VIKRAMABAHU 3 (1357-1374 A.D) DURING THE GAMPOLA REIGN. ACCORDING TO THE HISTORICAL RECORDS IT WAS BUILT AROUND 1370’S. THE EMBEKKE DEVALA IS AN EDIFICE TO WORSHIP MAHASEN SO CALLED AS KATARAGAMA DEVIYO. SIMULTANEOUSLY THERE ARE 3 SECTIONS OF THE HOLY PLACE. IN DETAIL THEY ARE HEVISI MANDAPAYA (DRUMMER’S HALL), DIGGE (DANCING HALL) SANCTUM OR GARAGHA.
THE TEMPLE SITE WAS DESIGNED BY A DRUMMER CALLED RANGAMA AND THE QUEEN OF VICKRAMABAHU 1 NAMED HENAKANDA BISO BANDARA. EARLIER THE DEVALAYA WAS A THREE STORIED ONE BUT TODAY YOU CAN SEE THE SPECTACULAR CARVINGS OF THE REMAINING. IT IS HIGHLIGHTED IN THE ‘EMBEKKE DEVALA VARBNANAVA’ ABOUT THIS CONSTRUCTION AND THE GREAT SRI LANKAN ARCHITECTURE USED. THE GREAT EMBEKKE DEVALAYA BECAME MORE FAMOUS BECAUSE OF THE EXQUISITE AND INTRICATE WOOD CARVINGS ON THE PILLARS OF THE DRUMMER’S HALL. SINCE EMBEKKE DEVALAYA WAS DECLARED AS A NATIONAL HERITAGE SITE IT HAS BECOME A HIGH RANKED TOURISM DESTINATION OF SRI LANKA. AS SOON AS YOU ENTER THE DEVALAYA THESE WOOD CARVINGS IN THE PILLARS AND ROOF ARE AMAZING. CARVINGS OF WOODEN FLOWERS, SWANS, AND MYTHICAL ANIMALS UNDERNEATH THE DEVALA ROOF ARE PROVED TO BE HYPNOTIZED. EVEN THE NAILS USED TO BUILD THE COLUMNS ALSO WOODEN NAILS. THE ANNUAL PERAHERA IS A SPECIAL FUNCTION WHICH TAKES PLACE. MANY TOURISTS ARE COTTON ON TO SEE THE DRUMMERS, TRADITIONAL DANCERS, BEAUTIFULLY DECORATED ELEPHANTS AND WHIP CRACKERS. THE REMAINING CARVED TIMBER PILLARS AND BEAMS WERE BUILT DURING THE SUPREMACY OF KING RAJADHI RAJASINGHA. BEING AN MONUMENT OF KANDIYAN WOOD CARVING THE DEVALA SITE IS OPEN TO THE PUBLIC. BUT REMEMBER NOT TO ENTER THE LOCATION WITH YOUR SHOES AND SLIPPERS. EACH CARVING HAS A HISTORICAL VALUE, NAME AND A STORY. 126 DIFFERENT DECORATIONS, 256 PATTERNS OF ‘LIYAWEL’ AND 64 LOTUS FLOWER DESIGNS ARE THE FEATURES USED BY THE CRAFTSMAN. EVEN FEW OF THE FLORAL DESIGNS ARE ADDED IN TO THE ORDINARY LEVEL SYLLABUS. YOU CAN ALSO VISIT THE ‘SINHASANA MANDAPA’ FEW METERS AWAY FROM THE DEVALAYA WHICH THE KING USED TO SIT AT HIS THRONE AND WATCH THE PERAHERA.