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Sri Dalada Maligawa, also known as the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, stands as a testament to Buddhist heritage in Kandy, Sri Lanka. Nestled within the former Kingdom of Kandy's royal palace complex, this temple holds the revered relic of the tooth of the Buddha. Steeped in history and spirituality, the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic has been a focal point of worship and governance for centuries.

Legend has it that after the parinirvana of Gautama Buddha, the tooth relic was preserved in Kalinga until it was smuggled to the island of Sri Lanka by Princess Hemamali and Prince Dantha, under the instructions of King Guhasiva. Arriving in Lankapattana during the reign of King Sirimeghavanna of Anuradhapura, they handed over the relic, which was then enshrined at Meghagiri Vihara in Anuradhapura.

Over time, the custodianship of the relic came to symbolize the right to rule, with reigning monarchs building tooth relic temples near their royal residences. From the Anuradhapura Kingdom to the Kingdom of Polonnaruwa and beyond, the tooth relic's presence was closely intertwined with the governance of the land.

During the reign of King Vimaladharmasuriya I, a two-storey building was erected to house the tooth relic. However, subsequent invasions and political upheavals led to the relocation of the relic to different places for its protection. The present-day temple of the tooth was constructed by King Vira Narendra Sinha, with additional structures such as the octagonal Paththirippuwa and moat added during the reign of Sri Vikrama Rajasinha.

The temple complex features notable architectural elements, including the water waves wall, Mahawahalkada entrance gate, and Sandakada pahana (moonstone) carved in Kandyan architectural style. The main shrine comprises two storeys known as "Palle malaya" and "Udu malaya" or "Weda hitina maligawa," with ivory carvings adorning the doors of the Weda Hitana Maligawa. The chamber housing the tooth relic is referred to as the "Handun kunama."

Throughout history, the relic has wielded significant political influence, as it is believed that whoever holds the relic holds governance over the country. Kandy, the last capital of the Sri Lankan kings, owes much of its cultural heritage to the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, which is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Additionally, the relic has gained international recognition, being featured on Dan Cruickshank's "Around the World in 80 Treasures" series.

In essence, the Sri Dalada Maligawa stands as a spiritual and historical treasure, embodying the rich tapestry of Sri Lanka's Buddhist heritage and serving as a symbol of governance and cultural identity.

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