Delegation Days in Sri Lanka: Enlightening Experience in Kandy

It is better to travel well than to arrive

Lord Gautam Buddha

The teachings of Lord Buddha often provide directions and guidelines which can help one lead a life of self improvement, happiness or enlightenment. His words are religiously followed by countless devotees, monks and followers even in the Age of Social Media, nearly 3 Millennia post the Age of Lord Buddha. He is revered even today, his teachings were far ahead of his times.

If we delve a bit into the annals of history, we would find that Lord Gautam Buddha was born as Prince Siddharth in about 563 BCE in Lumbini in Nepal. As an adult, he renounced the comforts of his Palace and went out as a monk in search for truth and enlightenment, which he attained post deep meditation beneath the Mahabodhi Tree [Sacred Fig or Peepal Tree; Scientific Name: Ficus religiosa] in Bodh Gaya in India. The Mahabodhi Tree still exists in Bodh Gaya. Post enlightenment, he conducted his first sermon to five disciples in the Deer Park in Sarnath, near Varanasi in India. Nearly two centuries later, Emperor Ashoka of India embraced Buddhism and helped spread Buddhism to Sri Lanka and many other countries by sending emissaries, including his son Mahendra and daughter Sanghamitra. It is also believed that Lord Buddha himself visited Sri Lanka centuries before Emperor Ashoka.

Fast forwarding from the circa 200 BCE to the year 2017 CE, I got an opportunity to get a glimpse of the rich culture of Sri Lanka during my visit as a Member of the Indian Youth Delegation. The experience on the whole was enlightening indeed, specially the part which I am going to describe now. I had the rare privilege to experience another of those moments when a chapter in life comes to a full circle. Lord Buddha’s teaching on traveling (which I try to follow to the book), the beautiful country of Sri Lanka, it’s crown jewel Kandy and India, all seem to be interconnected and the roots seem to not only penetrate deep, but also spread magnificently in all directions, even to this day.


What


The UNESCO World Heritage site of Shri Dalada Maligawa, or more popularly known as The Temple of the Tooth or Tooth Relic Temple is a magnanimous temple which is of immense religious and historical significance.

The claim to fame of this temple can be ascertained from its name. The temple houses a tooth of Lord Buddha. Buddhists and tourists in general from all over the world visit this temple to see and pay respect to this sacred relic belonging to Lord Buddha Himself.


When


I should give a brief historical background of the relics of Lord Buddha in general. When Lord Buddha attained nirvana and left for the heavenly abode in circa 480 BCE, his material possessions like utensils or some body parts like hair, nail or teeth were collected and distributed in many places in India, and some abroad as well. Most (may not be all) of the modern day Stupas house within themselves one of the relics belonging to Lord Buddha.

The feeling of divinity of this place is simply insurmountable. The entire temple, the conjoined palace, the history behind it, the pristine ambiance of the place can make one feel the divine presence over there, as if the voice of Lord Buddha Himself is carried by the winds over there.

The tooth relic was recovered by Khema, a disciple of Lord Buddha, from the latter’s funeral pyre. It was given to King Brahmadatte of Kalinga (modern day Odisha State, India) and remained there till 4th Century CE. It was brought to Sri Lanka during that time to protect the sacred relic from getting destroyed due to constant attacks and threats looming over Kalinga.

King Sirimeghavanna received the tooth relic and built a shrine around it in his capital city Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka. However as ruling dynasties and capitals changed over the course of time in Sri Lanka, the resting place of tooth relic also changed. The relic was taken by the Portuguese colonialists during their invasion of Sri Lanka in 17th Century CE, but was recovered later on by King Rajasinha II of the House of Kandy.

The tooth relic of Lord Buddha finally found its resting place in the Tooth Relic Temple of Kandy, built during early 18th Century CE by King Vira Parakrama Narendra Sinha of the House of Kandy, who was the last Sinhalese King of Sri Lanka.


Where


The Tooth Relic Temple is located in Kandy, which is a major city located in Central Province of Sri Lanka.

Kandy is about 120 km from Colombo. Candy is easily accessible through roads and railways from many major cities of Sri Lanka.

Map Courtesy: Google Maps

Why


A trip to the Tooth Relic Temple was enlightening indeed for me. It felt like experiencing magical surrealism very much practically again. The juxtaposition of being in close proximity to the divinity, the tranquil ambiance of the place and the soothing natural surroundings is altogether an out-worldly experience.

The tooth relic is a representation of the living Buddha. It is a part of elaborate rituals and ceremonies. It is stored in small golden casket, shaped as Stupa. It is also brought outside the sanctum sanctorum of the Temple for the common people to see and pay respect to it, though that’s quite rare.

Here, behind these gates of gold and within seven stupa-shaped caskets of gold lies the representation of the living Lord Buddha – The Sacred Tooth Relic

Feels magical to be present in the place where History, Archaeology, Religion and Divinity intermingle with one another and take us to just another wondrous dimension.

One must pay a visit to the Tooth Relic Temple to discover this feeling himself / herself.

The sacred Tooth Relic is not the only marvel which is housed within the Temple.


A small stupa inside the Tooth Relic Temple, Kandy containing another sacred relic associated with Lord Buddha

The stupa shown above is housed within the Temple. It is said that this stupa houses a bowl used by Lord Buddha for having food. The entire place felt as if Lord Buddha was himself present around us, though invisible, yet his divine spectre and aura was unmistakable.

The Temple is one part of the World Heritage Complex – The Royal Palace of the Kandian Kings and Museums being the other parts.


The Paththirippuwa or more commonly known as “The Octagon

The Paththirippuwa or The Octagon was built as The Royal Pavillion. From here, the King could exhibit the sacred Tooth Relic to the common people. The 8 points of The Octagon symbolized rays radiating in all the directions in the world, with the King being at the centre. The King also used the pavillion to address his subjects or view the celebrations during festivals.

Very few would know though that this World Heritage complex houses relics dating from the Age of Lord Buddha to the Age of Colonialism and finally, relates to the Freedom of Sri Lanka from Colonial powers.

The age of the relics may be widely disparaged, but if one looks closely, this Great Temple is a rare place where one more facet of life completes a full circle, isn’t it?


Within the walls of this Complex lies the Magul Maduwa or the Audience Hall. The Kings held their Courts within this Hall. But do not underestimate its Historical significance.

The Magul Maduwa is the Hall where the British signed the Kandyan Convention with the Kandy Kings of Sri Lanka in 1815 CE, which made Sri Lanka a British Colony and abolished monarchy from Sri Lanka. About 133 years later, Sri Lanka overthrew the Colonial powers and achieved Independence in 1948 CE. The Independence Hall Memorial constructed in its Capital city Colombo to commemorate the Freedom of Sri Lanka is designed as a replica of the Magul Maduwa. The National Flag of Independent Sri Lanka was hoisted on The Octagon in 1948 CE. Isn’t it amazing to know that one place oversaw almost the entire history of this country through one way or the other – right from it’s direct association with Lord Buddha to it’s connection with the Freedom of Sri Lanka? The more I think of it, the more amazing it feels to have paid a visit to this great place and privileged to spend time in its magnificence.

The Magul Maduwa or Audience Hall in the Tooth Relic Temple, Kandy

The architecture of this hall is as astounding as the rich history associated with it.

The entire hall is supported by wooden pillars and the pillars themselves contain intricate carvings of deities and designs.

But what astounds me is the fact that the wooden pillars do not have any joints which are fastened by fasteners like glue, cement or nails. These joints have been precisely carved out of wood and fixed together with mathematical accurately. The precision and accuracy of the architects of ancient Sri Lanka tells volumes about their dexterity and skills which make them well ahead of their times.

This particular type of wooden joints without fasteners was found elsewhere in Medieval Europe and Japan as well. In Japan, such joints are called Kanawa Tsugi.

Not very far away from Sri Lanka are present the Millennium old Grand Living Chola Temples in India, where similar Kanawa Tsugi joints can be seen supporting the entire Temple building. Those joints however are carved on solid granite.


Until Next Time


The Tooth Relic Temple or Shri Dalada Maligawa is perhaps the Crown Jewel of Sri Lankan culture and history. It not only serves as a religious place, but also holds treasures of immense historical and archaeological significance, across eons of history. The architectural marvels are truly wondrous indeed.

In my opinion, it’s a rare privilege and an enlightening experience being in this Temple and remembering the message of Lord Buddha and following his teachings on living life in a balanced way, in harmony with other people, communities and nature. His teachings are valid even to this day.

The veracity of the quote mentioned in the beginning of this article can be realized word by word upon visiting this sacred place. Traveling better is way greater and immensely more fulfilling than merely visiting multiple places. Perhaps, that’s the Need of the Uncliche. Perhaps that’s the reason of the related Quest.

The Indian Youth Delegation is perhaps once in a lifetime opportunity, and I am thankful for the same for getting an opportunity to see the rich historical and cultural heritage of Sri Lanka and getting acquainted with the ties that bind India and Sri Lanka together – the ties that transcend from the Age of Lord Buddha to the Age of Social Media.

© Abirbhav Mukherjee. All the pictures / videos posted in this article are my own unless otherwise mentioned.

40 comments

    1. Thank you so much Nilla for nominating me for the award..!! It means a lot to me to be nominated by an expert like you.. 😊🤗
      I have checked it and answered all your questions.. 😉 Hope you like reading them.. 😊😊
      Humbled to know that you remembered my blog.. 😊
      I would however have to decline this as it would be unfair on my part to pick and choose some of my followers as my nominations. I consider all of them to be great.. 😊
      Nominating everyone for the award would defeat the purpose of the award and nominating a few would violate my principle.
      Hope you understand..!! Thank you once again.. 😊
      I feel the interactions, thoughts, suggestions or comments to be more rewarding to me.. 😊😊
      I am always eager to hear more of your thoughts and love having a discussion with you.. Hope you would continue that.. 😊🤗

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi Abir, no problem at all and completely understand.
        I appreciate that you’ve taken the time to respond to the questions in the Award. It takes time to respond to the questions but it also helps other bloggers to discover your blog and understand a little more about you! 😉

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Well, your answers inspired me to answer the questions you asked.. 😊
          I am so happy that you liked the answers.. 😊😊
          You are very much right, answering the questions helps others get acquainted with us and our blogs.. 😉
          I was happy to read your answers and know a bit more about you.. 😊

          Liked by 1 person

    1. Vielen Dank Frau Frau, dass Sie sich die Zeit genommen haben, es zu lesen und Ihr wertvolles Feedback zu teilen.
      Ich bin froh zu wissen, dass du es gut gefunden hast.
      Schön dich zu kennen. Würde gerne mehr von dir hören .. 😊😊
      Vielen Dank und auch Sie bleiben sicher und gesund.. 😊
      Grüße aus Indien
      Abir

      Like

    1. Very much true, Madam..!! The place is fascinating and divine indeed.. 😊 I am sure you will love it when you pay a visit there.. 😊
      Thank you so much Madam for your lovely comments.. 😊🤗

      Liked by 1 person

  1. You have been to Sri Lanka as well..
    😀😀

    Wow…
    Lots of memories…
    Informations…
    You have so precisely described about Buddha…😀 Amazing..

    I am going to have a great travel lessons here😊

    Wonderful pictures 🤩

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I have been to Sri Lanka and a few other places as well.. 😉
      I love History and Archaeology. And what better a place to have the Best of Both Worlds other than a Grand Temple containing the relics belonging to Lord Buddha himself..!! 😀
      Thank you so much Anushka for your glowing praise.. 😊😊
      Hope the “lessons” or “information” help you go to such places and experience the magic yourself..!!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. A great report, thank you for sharing your experiences and impressions with us!

    In my city there is also a Stupa. I have visited it several times. For me this is a special place, a place of power.

    Have a good time!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much Madam for reading this and leaving your comments.. 😊😊
      Wow, I didn’t know about Stupa in Austria. Where do you live? Let me do some reading on that.. 😊
      Thank you and have a nice weekend..!!

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Thank you Madam for sharing this informative post on Salzburg Buddhist stupa. I didn’t know one existed in Europe.
          Stupas or Buddhist Monasteries are usually calm, peaceful and serene. I like the peaceful ambiance of those places.. 😊

          Liked by 1 person

          1. You are absolutely right. These places should be places of calm, peace, respect and mindfulness.
            Even in cities or places with a lot of tourists, a stupa can be this place. It is up to each individual to approach this place with due respect. Most of these places are designed from the outset to be off the beaten path of tourists. And that’s good! 🙂

            Liked by 1 person

            1. Well, you are right Madam. These stupas were (or are) constructed quite outside the cities for peace and tranquility.
              Respect, as you rightly said, should be given to such places. One must not disturb the ambiance and the peace which is sought by the worshippers or monks over there.. 😊
              But tourists still visit these stupas, they cannot be denied. They want to visit the places where the relics belonging to Lord Buddha Himself rest.

              Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, it’s an honour to be appreciated by the History expert herself.. ☺️
      Thank you so much Madam for your appreciation.. ☺️ Glad you liked it and could get some knowledge from the same..!!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh it’s so wonderful inside the Temple of the Tooth. I urge you to pay a visit there the next time you are in Kandy.. 😊😊
      Thank you Madam for visiting and sharing your comments.. 😊😊

      Like

  3. I am sure it must have been a surreal experience. Tooth temple in Kandy is new to me. How wonderful it would have been to walk through the entire place. The bowl in which Buddha ate in a stupa – that sounds fantastic. Wonderful place to be. Thank you for sharing in depth information. Loved reading it.😊

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It is a surreal experience indeed Madam, as you rightly said. If you ever visit Sri Lanka, you must make sure to pay a visit to The Temple of the Tooth in Kandy. One doesn’t to be a devout religious person to feel the divine aura of this place.. ☺️
      Thank you Madam for reading this and sharing your comments.. ☺️ much appreciated as always..!!

      Like

  4. My friend, I cannot tell you how wonderful it is to read your post in the middle of all this insanity AND to read a post that is free from that insanity xxxxx to you. Thank you so very much. Boss Lady is happy x

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Finally, the Boss Lady speaketh.. 😊😊
      Glad she liked it so much.. 😊😊
      Well, I am never going to be a news channel spitting numbers of infections on a periodic basis. I like writing and I like writing about places. So I am just doing that and digitizing my travels in the past.. 😊
      Thank you so much Madam for your appreciation.. 😊 Loved it as always..!!
      There are more such posts which I posted in the recent past.. Hope you give them a read as well.. 😊

      Like

        1. It will never be.. And I believe nor shall we ever be.. 😊
          Take Care and stay healthy Madam.. Invite you over a “virtual cup of tea” as depicted in the previous post of mine.. Hope the Boss Lady approves.. 😊

          Liked by 1 person

  5. As always loved the article. To my surprise you have precisely described about buddha which I ‘ll be going to learn as a part of my academics soon after this quarantine. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you Tanya for taking the time to read and share your comment.. 😊😊
      Glad to know that you will learn about Lord Buddha. His life and teachings should be understood and valued even today.. 😊
      Hope that post reading about Lord Buddha, you will be able to enjoy and relate to this article in a better way.. 😊

      Liked by 1 person

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