Kandy is one of the major city in Sri Lanka, located in the Central Province. It is the second largest city in the country after Colombo. It was originally known as Senkadagala pura after a hermit named Senkada who lived there. Many of Sinhalese people call it Mahanuwara meaning the Great City. The name Kandy was derived by the colonial rulers from the word Kanda in Sinhala, meaning a hill. Kandy was the stronghold of the Sinhalese kings, who promoted and protected the local culture until the city fell to the British in 1815. It was the last capital of the ancient kings’ era of Sri Lanka.The city lies in the midst of hills in the Kandy plateau, which crosses an area of tropical plantations, mainly tea. Kandy is both an administrative and religious city and is also the capital of the Central ProvinceKandy has a rich history.
Today a dashing commercial city, Kandy is famous for the Kandy Perahara-a huge cultural pageant that takes place in the month of July or August. It is one of the most colorful processions of the world. Thousands of drummers and dancers accompanying a parade of ornamented elephants perform in the streets of Kandy. The leading tusker carries the sacred tooth relic of Lord Buddha, while the spectators pay homage to it. The procession moves along the streets for seven consecutive nights and concludes on the day of the August full moon.
The Sri Dalada Maligawa or The Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic is one of the most sacred Buddhist pilgrimage sites in the world. Here, one of the Buddha’s teeth is kept. The temple was built in the 17th century. A golden canopy has been added recently. It is a temple in the city of Kandy in Sri Lanka. It was built within the royal palace complex which houses the only surviving relic of Buddha, a tooth, which is venerated by Buddhists. The relic has played an important role in the local politics since ancient times, it’s believed that whoever holds the relic holds the governance of the country, which caused the ancient kings to protect it with great effort. Kandy was the capital of the Sinhalese Kings from 1592 to 1815, fortified by the terrain of the mountains and the difficult approach. The city is a world heritage site declared by UNESCO, in part due to the temple.
Monks of the two chapters of Malwatte and Asgiriya conduct daily ritual worship in the inner chamber of the temple, in annual rotation. They conduct these services three times a day: at dawn, at noon and in the evening. . Daily rituals are performed three times a day-at 4.30 a.m., 10.30 a.m., and 6.30 p.m. respectively.On Wednesdays there is a symbolic bathing of the Sacred Relic with an herbal preparation made from scented water and flagrant flowers, called Nanumura Mangallaya. This holy water is believed to contain healing powers and is distributed among those present.
When the Buddhism was well rooted in Sri Lanka, and the island rulers maintained close relations with the Indian states that fostered Buddhism.
After about eight centuries of its Existence in India, the Tooth relic was secretly taken away by Danta and Hemamala, said to be the son-in-law and daughter of Guhasiva. King Wimaladharmasuriya I (1592 – 1603), the first to select Kandy as the ruling capital originally built a two storied Temple for the Relic and brought the tooth relic from Delgamuwa near Kuruwita in Sabaragamuwa which has been hidden for protection. Remains of this temple no longer exist. Wimaladharmasuriya II (1686 – 1706) built a three storied temple and his son king Viraparakrama Narendrasinha (1706 – 1738), the last Sinhalese king to rule the country, built a new two storied temple temple seeing that the old temple built by his father has decayed. The last king of Sri lanka, Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe (1797 – 1814) built the Pattirippuwa (the Octagon). Originally, the Pattirippuwa (octagon) was part of the royal palace. It was used by the king to address his follow countrymen. Today the Pattirippuwa has become a part of the temple and houses ancient textures written in ola leaves.
This museum was started recently in the first and second floors of new palace. This is the place where you could gather much information regarding Dalada history. In the museum, you find the photographs that depict the damage done by the bomb blast in 1998, statues of Diyawadana Nilames , the royal attires of the King Keerthi Sri Rajasinghe, and many more with historical value. Ever since the Tooth Relic shrine was established in Kandy, different grades of visitors and devotees, ranging from the Roylty and Heads of States to the poorest of the general public, have been offering various gifts to the Sacred Tooth Relic, and these were preciously protected in specially built store-rooms by the successive line of Diyawadana Nilames.
On the initiative of the present Diyawadana Nilame, Neranjan Wijeratne, it was decided that these valuable artifacts be made available for public display. On the invitation of the Diyawadana Nilame , the Museum has now been beautifully designed and organized by Prof.Leelananda Prematilleke, the Archaeological Director of the UNESCO-Sri Lanka Project of the Cultural Triangle, together with his team of officers.
The photographic display includes some of the important sites where the sacred Tooth Relic was enshrined through the centuries and a large array of pictures depicting the immeasurable damage caused to the Dalada maligava due to the bomb blast happened in 1998.
Among the items on view on the second floor are historical artifacts used in the daily ritual ceremonies of the Tooth Relic shrine, caskets, Buddha statues and typical Kandyan gold and silver jewellery studded with precious gem stones, all donated by the devotees. Also on view on this floor are some special exhibits of great historical and religious value. These include (a) the silver water pot offered by king Kirti Sri Rajasimha , (b) Silver hanging lamp offered by king Rajadhi Rajasimha, (c) the painted replica of Buddha’s Foot Print sent by king Borom Kot of Thailand when he sent some monks to establish the Higher Ordination on Sinhala monks headed by Venerable Walivita Saranankara ( who became Sangharaja subsequently), (d) The unique Relic Casket containing bodily relics of the great Thera Moggliputta who headed The Third Dhamma Council held by Emperor Asoka in the 3rd century BC, etc. Other significant exhibits include ancient flags, coins, carved ivory tusks donated by Burma, commemorative carved plaques, etc. A visit to this grandest display would evidently provide an insight into the splendor that was Kandyan Heritage, her Culture and the Arts.
Sri Dalada Museum Kandy-a major tourist destination-is also known as the cultural capital of Sri Lanka. Nestled in the hills at an altitude of 488 m, it is located at a distance of 115 km from Colombo.
The library was built during the period of the English Governor William Gregory. There are many ‘puskola poth’(ancient manuscripts on palm leaves) that were looted by Englishmen from the temples. It is a collection of about 2000 manuscripts and most of them are religious books older more than 150 years. ‘Bhejjaya Manjusava’ written by Walivita Sri Saranankara Thero, Thai thripitaka printed in Thailand in 18th century and the books printed in England stone printer are some rare books that are kept in this library. Although the library was located in the Pattirippuwa , after the bomb attack in 1998 it was moved and reestablished in a separate place.
An another important palce in Dalada maligawa premises is The Tusker Raja’s Museum ,In this museum, the figure of the Tusker Raja who carried the sacred relic in perahera for more than a half century, is well preserved after his death. This museum is situated in Throne palace (Sinhasana Mandiraya) which belongs to old palace premises. Raja was a tusker who won entire country’s love and named as a national asset in 1986. After Raja’s death his statue was created using his skin and tusk.
The Kandy Esala Perehera is ,without a doubt, the grandest and most colourful pagent in Sri Lanka,and is one of the most important religious and cultural events in the country.It is held I annually in July/august on days fixed by the Diyawanna Nilame of the Dalada Maligawa.
It is held to honour the Sacred Tooth Relic and comprises 5 components ; the Dalada Maligawa Perehera ,followed by the pererheras of the Natha,Vishnu,Katharagama and Paththini devales situated around the Maligawa.
The perehera ceremony held five nights, processions are conducted within the 4 dewale premises.on the last day,the glittering Perehera s led by whipcrackers,who announce the approach of the procession .The flag bearers carrying the standards of the different provinces and temples come next.Then comes the beautiful Kandiyan dancers and drummers followed by the Gajanayake Nilame,Diyawadana Nilame and all the respectable people.
After them comes the high-point the beautifully decorated Maligawa Tusker carrying the golden casket containing the Sacred Relics.
Udawattakele Sanctuary or the Royal Forest Park of Kandy is siuated on the hillside behind the Dalada Maligawa or the Temple of the Tooth Relic. . It is also known as the Forbidden Forest of the Kings of Kandy. It contains a variety of trees such as Talipot trees, cinnamon, olive, rattan cane, betel, bo-trees, kitul palms, jak, mara, betelnut and arecanut. This forest extents about 257 acres and is considered to be a vital Bio reserve for the much populated Kandy City. Centuries back, area surrounding Kandy had been a Rain Forest and the human settlements took place during the era of King Panditha Parakramabahu (1302-1326 AD) and in 1371 AD, King Wickramabahu made Kandy his Kingdom. During this era Kandy was called as “Senkadagala”. This name came into being due to a Brahmin named Senkanda, who lived in a cave at Udawattakele during that era. During the Kandyan Kingdom, this forest area behind the palace was called ” Uda wasala watta” or the ‘Upper Palace Garden’ frequented by the royalty and was out of bound to the people. Since the downfall of the Kandyan Kingdom in 1815, this forest area started to loose it’s pristine condition due to wood cutting etc.
The forest is rich with vegetation consisting with canopy, sub canopy and an underground layer. The dense plant life restricts sunlight reaching the ground soil surface. The underground layer mostly consists of the seedlings of the canopy layer species and creepers that reaches to the top of caopy layer trees.
The important places in Udawattakele are the The water Pond, Highest peak “Kodimale”, The Senkanda Cave, and the Garrison cemetery. There are also several Buddhist temples and hermitages inside the forest reserve.