Ancient and Sacred Hindu Temples in Sri Lanka Reflecting India’s Heritage

Spread India's Glorious Cultural & Spiritual Heritage


Sri Lanka, primarily known for its Buddhist heritage, also boasts a rich tapestry of Hindu temples that reflect the island’s historical and cultural ties with India. These temples, some dating back to ancient times, are sacred sites that continue to be significant centers of worship for the Hindu community in Sri Lanka. Here are some of the most prominent ancient and sacred Hindu temples in Sri Lanka:

1. Koneswaram Temple (Trincomalee)

Key Highlights:

  • Historical Significance: Believed to have been originally constructed during the reign of the Chola dynasty, the Koneswaram Temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. It has been an important pilgrimage site for Hindus for centuries.
  • Location: Situated on Swami Rock, a promontory overlooking Trincomalee, the temple offers stunning views of the Indian Ocean.
  • Architecture: The temple complex, known for its Dravidian architectural style, was restored in the 20th century after being destroyed by Portuguese colonizers in the 17th century.

2. Nainativu Nagapooshani Amman Temple (Nainativu Island)

Key Highlights:

  • Deity: This temple is dedicated to Goddess Parvati, worshipped here as Nagapooshani Amman.
  • Legend: According to legend, the temple is one of the 64 Shakti Peethas, sacred sites where parts of the goddess Sati’s body are believed to have fallen.
  • Architecture: The temple is renowned for its vibrant and intricate gopuram (tower) and beautifully decorated interior.

3. Munneswaram Temple (Chilaw)

Key Highlights:

  • Historical Significance: This ancient temple complex is dedicated to Lord Shiva and has been a significant place of worship for over a millennium.
  • Mythological Connection: It is believed that the temple’s origins date back to the Ramayana period, with Lord Rama worshipping Shiva here to absolve himself of the sin of killing Ravana.
  • Annual Festival: The Munneswaram Temple hosts the grand annual Munneswaram Festival, attracting thousands of devotees.

4. Ketheeswaram Temple (Mannar)

Key Highlights:

  • Ancient Roots: Dedicated to Lord Shiva, Ketheeswaram Temple is one of the five ancient Isvarams of Shiva in Sri Lanka, known as Thiruketheeswaram.
  • Historical Importance: The temple has been a prominent site for Hindu pilgrims for centuries, particularly during the Chola and Pandya periods.
  • Cultural Resurgence: Despite periods of destruction, particularly during colonial rule, the temple has been restored and continues to be a vital spiritual center.

5. Tirukoneswaram Kovil (Trincomalee)

Key Highlights:

  • Sacred Location: Often referred to as the “Temple of a Thousand Pillars,” Tirukoneswaram Kovil is perched on the Swami Rock in Trincomalee, offering a breathtaking panoramic view of the sea.
  • Mythology: It is believed that the temple was built to honor the Hindu god Shiva, making it one of the Pancha Ishwarams (five abodes of Shiva) in Sri Lanka.
  • Cultural Heritage: The temple’s ancient roots are intertwined with legends from the Ramayana, and it has been a center of Saivite worship for centuries.

6. Mamangeswaram Temple (Jaffna)

Key Highlights:

  • Deity: Dedicated to Lord Shiva, this temple is one of the important Shiva temples in the Jaffna Peninsula.
  • Cultural Significance: The temple is not only a place of worship but also a cultural hub for the Tamil Hindu community in northern Sri Lanka.
  • Historical Roots: The temple has a long history and continues to be an important pilgrimage site, especially during Maha Shivaratri.

7. Sri Ponnambalawaneswarar Temple (Colombo)

Key Highlights:

  • Urban Sanctuary: Located in the heart of Colombo, this granite-built temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and serves as a significant religious site for Hindus in the city.
  • Architectural Beauty: The temple is known for its intricate stone carvings and Dravidian architecture.
  • Community Center: It plays a vital role in the religious and cultural life of the Hindu community in Colombo.

8. Kathirkamam Murugan Temple (Kataragama)

Key Highlights:

  • Deity: This temple is dedicated to Lord Murugan, also known as Kataragama Deviyo, a popular deity among both Hindus and Buddhists in Sri Lanka.
  • Pilgrimage Site: It is one of the most revered pilgrimage sites in Sri Lanka, attracting devotees from all over the island as well as from South India.
  • Annual Festival: The temple is famous for its annual Esala Festival, which includes fire-walking and other acts of devotion.


The ancient and sacred Hindu temples of Sri Lanka are more than just places of worship; they are repositories of history, culture, and tradition. These temples, with their deep historical roots and architectural splendor, highlight the enduring connections between Sri Lanka and India. They continue to be vibrant centers of spiritual and cultural life, reflecting the rich heritage of Hinduism in the island nation.

Spread India's Glorious Cultural & Spiritual Heritage

By Mala Chandrashekhar

Introducing Blogger Mala Chandrashekhar - A specialist academically trained in modern Western sciences, yet deeply enamored with India's timeless ethnic arts, crafts, and textiles. Her heart beats for the rich and glorious cultural and spiritual heritage of India, and she has dedicated her entire blog to spreading the immortal glories of ancient India worldwide. Through her simple yet impactful blog posts, Mala aims to reach every nook and corner of the globe, sharing India's beauty and wisdom with the world.

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