After the tiring day climbing Sirigirya Rock and Dambulla Cave, we slept quite nicely in our accommodations in Serene Garden. We were to wake up extra early the next day because we needed to be early to visit the tooth Relic Temple which was nearby, and head off to Nuwara Eliya. Yes, responsible Sophie woke up extra early, got ready, and ran her OC streak in running back and forth to make sure that nothing was going to be left behind.
As Kaths and I were already almost done with our packing, we were startled with a loud bang on the sliding door towards the mini balcony. Ahhh!!! We screamed! So, what was that sound?
Figured why there was a sign in our room that says “keep the sliding door closed” and said something about monkeys! This particular one was playing Juliet, overlooking the balcony. Haha! Take note that I took these photos without opening our sliding doors!
Anyways, when the monkeys left, I was able to peer at the view on our balcony, and it was just so beautiful. Sort of old-world, and definitely I don’t feel like I’m in a city now. I actually liked that feeling.
As we were already in Kandy, the location of the Tooth Relic Temple was just very near us, perhaps a few minutes worth of drive away. We were still given packed lunch as we were in a hurry, and our second destination was very far.
As stepped out of the van, and reached the grounds of the Tooth Relic Temple, I felt wonderful as the weather in the morning ( around 7 am ) was really cool, and it was absolutely refreshing to hear the lovely chirping of birds and the sky with a gorgeous gradient of blue and white, with the sun rising. The weather was perfect, and we were all feeling good.
Kandy, is an anglicized word from the Sinhalese word, “kande,” which means hills, in which the place is located. The Sacred City of Kandy, Sri Lanka is regarded as one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites, because of its religious and cultural sites. Kandy is home to the Tooth Relic Temple, which houses the tooth relic of Buddha. ( yes, it exists. ) It is a popular pilgrimage site for Buddhists from Sri Lanka and all over the world.
We started walking the grounds shoe-less, as it was sacred grounds, and we could see alot of people, this early in the morning making their way to the temple. We were also assigned a tour guide here, who was also so kind ( we’ve been blessed with really kind tour guides for this trip, really ) to tell us all about the place. First, we passed thru an oriental library.
We were closely approaching the temple itself, and the crowd was growing,
I saw some Sri Lankans worshipping in front of this structure, as it the Tooth Relic was brought down here every morning. Turns out, we were two hours late as it was being brought down every 5am in the morning. Really sad!
We also went to a place inside the temple which was so beautiful, that it was a white hallway full of Buddha statues from all over the world. There were Buddha statues from Singapore, from China, and from all Buddhist faiths all over the world. There were also paintings on the walls which depicted the story of how the Tooth Relic arrived in Sri Lanka.
For the story of how it came about, let me share with you a summary from Lonelyplanet.com,
The tooth is said to have been snatched from the flames of the Buddha’s funeral pyre in 543 BC, and was smuggled into Sri Lanka during the 4th century AD, hidden in the hair of a princess. At first it was taken to Anuradhapura, but with the ups and downs of Sri Lankan history it moved from place to place before eventually ending up at Kandy. In 1283 it was carried back to India by an invading army but was soon brought back again by King Parakramabahu III.
Gradually, the tooth came to assume more and more importance as a symbol of sovereignty; it was believed that whoever had custody of the tooth relic had the right to rule the island. In the 16th century the Portuguese, in one of their worst spoilsport moods, seized what they claimed was the tooth, took it away and burnt it with Catholic fervour in Goa. ‘Not so’, is the Sinhalese rejoinder; the Portuguese had been fobbed off with a replica tooth and the real incisor remained safe. Even today there are rumours that the real tooth is hidden somewhere secure, as it has been so many times in its past, and that the tooth kept here is a replica.
It was such a sacred ground, signifying, and solidifying all Buddhist faiths around the world in that room. It is a struggle and a monumental effort to keep their religion alive to this day, being really in touch to where it all began, with relics such as this.
Now, we reached the upper floor, and saw people kneeling and praying. It was the Tooth Relic itself standing in front of us. It is not exposed to the public, as it is eternally displayed inside 7 golden caskets ( in each one getting smaller and smaller ) , with the shape of a stupa. The air was really solemn and I felt so humbled in this place. I felt their love for Buddha, and their hearts that really live by its teachings.
As we were almost done with the tour, we paid the remains of the Royal Elephant a visit. This Royal Elephant has been a well-loved one, as it was the bearer of the Tooth Relic on its back every year during the festival. It has given the Sri Lankan people such happiness for more than 50 years. Now, it is placed inside the temple complex. I think it was preserved, with the internal organs already removed.
Now, at the end of our tour in the Tooth Relic Temple, we actually went to a place where there were candles. Some of us made wishes, and as I was out of candles, I whispered a wish to the sky. No, gratefulness preceded that. I thanked God for the wonderful world that He has let us be in, and the wonderful places in the world, with each one unique and beautiful, that He has given us a chance to travel to see. The Tooth Relic Temple is one of the most beautiful places that I’ve ever visited, so as Sri Lanka. I am humbled, and in much awe with such kind people who have Buddha really close to their hearts, as I felt every ounce of sincerity, and sacrifice these people do for their faith. For my wish, it is for a clear mind, and enlightenment. Freedom from doubts, a more serene mind, and answers to questions in my mind.
May I get those answers one day. Feeling at peace inside the temple was proof enough that I will be able to do so.