Sacred Teeth and Royal Gardens

Trip Start Dec 23, 2007
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Sri Lanka  ,
Monday, February 8, 2010

Today's two highlights were the Peradeniya Royal Gardens and the Temple of the Tooth.  Peradeniya is a vast botanical garden just outside of Kandy city.  The garden is well-known for having a collection of over 300 varieties of Orchids, thousands of spice trees, medicinal plants, as well as a spectacular set of palm trees rows.  It is a great way to spend a few hours just strolling around or as a place to have a picnic or catch up on your reading.
To end the day, I visited the sacred Temple of the Tooth.  According to legend, the tooth was taken from the Buddha as he lay
on his funeral pyre. It was smuggled to Sri Lanka in 313 AD, hidden in
the hair of a princess who fled the Hindu armies besieging her
father's kingdom in India.  Eventually, a temple was built specifically to honor the sacred relic in Kandy in the late 1600's

It immediately became an object of great reverence and was
enshrined in a series of nested jeweled reliquaries. The tooth was
brought out for special occasions and paraded on the backs of
elephants, which are sacred to the Buddha. where it survived numerous
attempts to capture and destroy it. The temple isn't exactly spectacular, but it has a nice facade.  However, the interior is another story, as it is richly carved and decorated with inlaid woods, ivory, and lacquer.  The tooth is kept in a two-story inner shrine fronted by two large elephant
tusks and elaborately decorated entranceway.  The tooth rests on a solid gold lotus flower, encased in jeweled
caskets that sit on a throne (as you can kind of see from the last two photos). 

As you can imagine, it is a highly respected and spiritual place with people coming from all over to pray in front the shrine and pay homage to the ancient relic.  Interesting! :)
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