Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Dalada Maligawa

One of the chief objects of interests in Kandy is the 'Dalada Maligawa' or Temple of the Sacred Tooth. This is the heart of Kandy, and the Tooth of Buddha is the heart of it. The relic came from India sixteen centuries ago, and moved from capital to capital always with the king. It is rarely shown and never leaves the temple. The temple and the 'Pattirippuwa', which is the octagonal building on the right of the main entrance, are enclosed by an ornamental stone wall and a moat. Upon entering, you pass through a small quadrangle and turn to the right, up a flight of stone steps, to the temple. The most striking features that attract one's attention are the unusual carvings, brightly coloured frescoes representing torments for various classes of sinners, and many images of Lord Buddha. The flower-sellers are ranged on either side and the atmosphere is heavy with the perfume of the white blossoms. Yellow-robed priests flit here and there, whilst the music of the temple bells and the rhythmic beat of the tom-tom fill the air with strange melodies that harmonize with the nature of the city. At the entrance to the sanctuary which contains the Sacred Tooth is an elaborate door, inlaid with silver and ivory, with two pairs of elephants' tusks on either side. Within this chamber is the huge silver-gilt, bell-shaped shrine that protects the Tooth. Inside this shrine are six inner shrines ornamented with precious stones of rare value.

The Octagon, or the 'Pattirippuwa' was built shortly before the Kandyan Convention of 1815, by which Kandy was ceded to the British. After being a British military prison, it is now a library, mainly for ancient "olas" - manuscripts on palm-leaves- many of which are magnificently bound and are held in due reverence by pilgrims as containing the teachings of Lord Buddha. The finest thing artistically is in the small shrine beside the stairway of the Octagon- a crystal statue of the Buddha in a most attractive shrine-case.

Next door to the Tooth Temple is the Audience Hall where the Kandyan kings held court with all pomp and ceremony. The rich carvings on the pillars and the wall plates are excellent examples of Kandyan architecture. It was in this Audience Hall that the last king of Kandy used to receive British ambassadors ; it was also here that the submission to Britain was signed and Sri Lanka's (then called Ceylon) independence in 1948 celebrated.


Dambulla is a part of the Cultural Triangle declared by UNESCO is on the main road from Sigiriya to Kandy about 19Km from Sigiriya. There are over 80 caves in the surrounding and some of them have been used by the monks as meditation locations. Major attractions are spread over 5 caves, which contain the statues and the paintings. Since it's founding in the 1 century BC by King Valagamba, many improvements and additions have been carried out to the sculptures and paintings over the years. Hindu statues are believed to be of the 12 century AD and the latest paintings are of the late 18-century. The temple is a perfect location to view evolution of the ancient Sri Lankan arts. Dambulla is a unique and important historical site because of the amalgamation of the material from many eras.

Distance to other towns in KmColombo 148

Kandy 72
Anuradhapura 66
Sigiriya 12
Polonnaruwa 68
Trincomalee 109


If you are traversing the Cultural Triangle in Sri Lanka (Anuradhapura, Polonnaruva and Kandy), 3km north of Matale on the Kandy-Dambulla section of the A9 route in a picturesque valley is the rock monastery Aluvihare.

Aluvihare is one of the most important cultural sites in Sri Lanka, for it was here in the 1st century BC that the Buddhist doctrines -comprising the Tripitikaya or “three baskets of the law,” along with the commentaries - were first transcribed after having been handed down orally for several centuries. This transcription was carried out for fear that the doctrine would be lost during the upheaval caused by repeated South Indian invasions.

It is said that 500 scholarly monks congregated at Aluvihare to perform the onerous task of first reciting the doctrines and agreeing on an acceptable version before writing them down. The library at Aluvihare, which had safely housed the volumes of this precious manuscript for so many centuries, was totally destroyed by the British during the Matale Rebellion of 1848. Along with it went much of the rest of the temple complex.

Aluvihare has many monastery caves, with ancient inscriptions, comparatively modern wall and ceiling paintings with images of the Buddha. The main cave has a 10m long reclining statue of the Buddha, together with standing and seated images. If you climb up to the dagoba on top of the rock just beyond the cave temples, you can see the excellent views of the dramatic topography of the North Central Province, with its expansive plain and scattered, blue-hued rock escarpments.

This is a place many travelers, who visit the country, leave with positive impressions because of its spiritual atmosphere and the neatness and cleanliness of temples.