Located within the royal palace complex of Kandy, the Temple of the Tooth (Sri Dalada Maligawa) houses Sri Lanka’s most important Buddhist relic. In the heart of the temple, within a two-story shrine fronted by elephant tusks sits what devotees believe to be the left upper canine tooth of the Buddha, supposedly taken from his body before cremation. The Temple of the Tooth was built between 1687 and 1707 to house the relic.
While the tooth stays hidden within a gold casket, visitors and devotees still flock to the temple during puja for a glimpse at the heavily guarded inner shrine where it is kept. Also of interest is the International Buddhist Museum, housed on the temple grounds, where visitors can learn about the history and expansion of the religion throughout Asia and the world.
Once each year during the Esala Perahera procession, the relic casket gets paraded through the streets atop a male elephant. The 10-day festival is one of the largest Buddhist festivals in the world and the most important in Sri Lanka.
Remember to wear clothing that covers both your legs and shoulders when visiting the temple, and be prepared to remove your shoes.