Boom! Boom! Boom! This was no enticing drum sound to woo me deep into the bowel of the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic; no, this was a command to follow the many pilgrims into the darkness of the night into the most important Buddhist site in all of Sri Lanka. The site that, as legend would have you believe, contains a tooth from Buddha himself. Smuggled to Sri Lanka by an Indian Princess, the sacred tooth has been at the center of many conquests as for it is popularly believed that whoever holds the Tooth holds the power and the right to rule over the diverse island of Sri Lanka. After stripping your feet from your earth worn shoes and passing over the deep moat, you enter an ornate and spiritual world filled with intricately decorated arched corridors, hypnotic sounds of drums and prayers, the intense aromas of burning incense and the throngs of the pilgrims dressed in white holding offerings to Buddha.
On entering the final chamber, waiting patiently for the door that houses the relic itself to be opened by one of the many monks that form part of an elite sentinel for the temple, you will glimpse a priceless golden vessel. No words can adequately describe its immense beauty, elegance and sense of spiritual power that it holds over so many Buddhists around the world, for the vessel houses the Sacred Tooth of Buddha himself. Draped in exquisite jewels and gems, surrounded by a room of golden light and lush red velvet drapes, you can’t help but be overwhelmed by the sight of people praying, placing offerings and crying, as for some, this is a once in a lifetime experience. The Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic is a must see in the city of Kandy in the Hill Country of Sri Lanka and will leave an impression on you for many years to come. – Niki Curtis