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Temple of the Sacred Tooth

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The Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic (Sri Dalada Maligawa) was by far the most important building in Kandy. It housed a tooth supposedly snatched from Buddha's funeral pyre in 543 BC and smuggled into Sri Lanka in the 4th century. It gradually became a symbol of sovereignty and it was believed that its owner had a right to rule the country. The Portugese thought they stole and burned the tooth in the 16th century, but the Sri Lankans said they were fooled by a substitute tooth. Almost nobody was allowed to see the tooth and most people could see only the outermost of its seven dagoba-shaped caskets. Sri Lankans believed that praying here improved their karma immensely. The gilded roof over the tooth chamber was recently paid for by Japanese donors.