Tucked into Kandy’s historical Royal Palace complex, the Temple of the Tooth is one of Sri Lanka’s top attractions. The 18th-century Buddhist temple, part of what was once Kandy’s royal court, is revered for housing a tooth reputed to have belonged to Buddha himself, with pilgrims and tourists flocking to it as a result.The Basics
Overlooking Kandy’s lake, the Temple of the Tooth is a key reason for the city’s UNESCO World Heritage Site status. Visitors explore the temple’s interior and view the jewel-encrusted caskets that contain the tooth—the precious relic itself is hardly ever on display. During Kandy’s annual Esala Perahera procession (July or August), the tooth caskets are paraded through the city atop a decorated elephant.
As one of Sri Lanka’s biggest draws, the temple is a major stop on Kandy and hill country tours. Travelers get to visit on all regular Kandy tours, including walking and tuk-tuk excursions. Alternatively, you can experience the temple on a multi-day guided journey around some of the island’s highlights, such as Sigiriya, Galle, and national parks. Things to Know Before You Go
How to Get There
- The Temple of the Tooth is a must for first-time Kandy visitors and history and culture buffs.
- You are required to remove your shoes to enter the temple, but can keep your socks on for comfort.
- The lines that file past the tooth shrine are often long, so be prepared.
- Men are required to wear long pants, and women must cover their shoulders and wear long, loose pants or skirts.
- Restroom facilities are limited, and wheelchair users can only access some areas of the temple.
Kandy’s Royal Palace stands on the northern edges of Kandy Lake in the city center. Hail a cab or tuk-tuk to get there—drivers will know where to go—or catch a bus to the nearby Maligawa stop and follow the temple pilgrims from there.When to Get There
The temple is open daily from 5:30am to 8pm, including public holidays. To avoid the worst crowds, visit outside the puja prayer times of around 5:30am, 9:30am, and 6:30pm. That said, the pujas are the most atmospheric times, when the temple is filled with devotees and their lotus flower offerings. World Buddhism Museum
Many visitors combine a Temple of the Tooth visit with time at the neighboring World Buddhism Museum—admission is included in temple tickets. The well-organized museum charts the development of Buddhism country by country and uses statues, art, and temple treasures to create an easy-to-understand introduction to the religion.