Entering the shrine over a moonstone step, you pass a stone depicting the Indian goddess Lakshmi and a wall with frescoes illustrating the Buddhist conception of hell. The upper stories house the relic of the tooth, caged behind the gilded iron bars. Behind the tooth relic sanctuary is a hall with a number of golden Buddha statues and modern paintings, showing Buddha’s life and the arrival of Buddhism in the land. We end our tour just before the evening drumming begins, which precedes the ceremonious opening of the window for the public viewing of the casket with the tooth.
While you probably won’t be able to see the tooth itself, you can stretch to view the casket it is contained in with hundreds of other pilgrims. The temple itself is worth it for sheer aesthetic overload—vibrant colors, fragrant flowers and ornate designs line the walls and ceilings.
Held every day at 5:30 am, 9:30am and 6:30 pm, the puja ceremonies may be more crowded than other times of the day at the temple, but it’s worth it! And make sure you’re dressed appropriately! As with all temples in Sri Lanka, you shouldn’t wear anything shorter than the knee (especially the ladies), and your shoulders should be covered. A scarf, sarong, or pashmina are great items to pack for just the purpose!