Nallur Kandasamy Kovil
This temple is dedicated to God Murugan, the God of war further called the philosopher-warrior God. He is the son of great Shiva and Parvati and is the brother of Ganesh. This temple is one of the numerous famous temples in Sri Lanka. It had been destroyed many times by the invaders but has always been reconstructed. This temple hosts one of the most popular festivals in the country called the “Nallur Festival”. It is established in the centre of the city, and the male visitors must enter the temple topless to respect God Murugan.
Origins of Nallur Kandaswamy Kovil
The roots of Nallur Kandaswamy Kovil can be traced back to the 10th century. The original Kandaswamy Temple was founded in 948 A.D. However, in the 15th century, during the reign of Parakramabahu VI, the King of Kotte, the temple underwent significant development. Sapumal Kumaraya, who ruled the Jaffna kingdom on behalf of the Kotte kingdom, played a crucial role in building the third Nallur Kandaswamy temple. Nallur, serving as the capital of the Jaffna kings, held great importance, with the royal palace near the temple. The city was designed according to Hindu traditions, featuring four gateways with temples at each entrance.
Unfortunately, the original locations of the temple and other structures were later occupied by churches built by the Portuguese. The city of Nallur was fortified, and the temple was a defensive fort with high walls. Despite the Portuguese invasion and the destruction of the third temple in 1624 A.D., the rich history and cultural significance of Nallur Kandaswamy Kovil continued to endure.
The fourth and present temple, which stands today, was constructed in 1734 A.D. during the Dutch colonial era. 'Don Juan' Ragunatha Maapaana Mudaliyar, a Shroff in the Dutch Katchery, built the temple at a site known as 'Kurukkal Valavu.' Initially, the temple was built with bricks, stones, and a cadjan roof. Over the centuries, Ragunatha Maapaana Mudaliyar's descendants served as the temple's custodians, significantly adding and improving its present glory.
The "Golden Period" of the Nallur Temple began after Arumuga Maapaana Mudaliyar, the 7th custodian, assumed office in 1890. Under his administration, the temple saw numerous enhancements, including constructing of the first bell tower in 1899. The main sanctum was renovated using granite in 1902, and the first enclosing wall was erected in 1909. Subsequent custodians continued the renovation work, eventually transforming the temple into the country's most significant Hindu Temple Complex. The temple now boasts four Gopurams, six Bell Towers, and fortified walls, resembling a majestic citadel in Nallur.
Architecture and Features
The temple's architecture is an awe-inspiring display of the Dravidian style. The main entrance faces east and leads to a five-story tower or gopuram, intricately carved and exuding grandeur. Within the temple complex, devotees can explore various shrines dedicated to Lords Ganesh, Palliyarai, Sandana Gopalar, Goddess Gajavalli Mahavalli, Vairavar and Sooriyan with Consorts, and Vairavar. In addition, the southern part of the temple is home to a holy pond and the shrine of Thandayudhapaani, while the northern side houses the tranquil 'Poonthottam' or divine garden.
Nallur Kandaswamy Kovil holds immense social importance for the Sri Lankan Tamil community. It serves as a symbol of Tamil identity in the northern region of Sri Lanka. The temple administration, known for its punctuality, order, and neatness, sets an example for other Saiva/Gaumaram temples. Devotees are drawn to the impeccable conduct of religious ceremonies, demonstrating their deep reverence and admiration for the temple.
New Raja Gopuram Additions
In recent years, Nallur Kandaswamy Kovil has witnessed the addition of two remarkable Raja Gopurams. The first, named Shanmuha Raja Gopuram, was unveiled on 21st August 2011. It features a majestic nine-storey structure with a magnificent entrance known as Swarna Vaasal, meaning "The Golden Entrance." The second Raja Gopuram, called Gubera Raja Gopuram, was unveiled on 4th September 2015. Positioned at the northern entrance of the temple complex, it surpasses the southern tower in size, making it the largest Gopuram in the country. This addition is believed to bring blessings of wealth to the people of the Jaffna peninsula, as Gubera is regarded as the deity of wealth.
Festivals at Nallur Kandaswamy Kovil
The annual festival at Nallur Kandaswamy Kovil is a highly anticipated event that spans twenty-five days. It commences with the hoisting of the Holy flag, known as Kodiyetram. The festival includes a series of Yāgams, Abishekams, and special poojas. Some of the major religious festivals celebrated at the temple include Manjam, Thirukkarthikai, Kailasavahanam, Velvimanam, Thandayuthepani, Sapparam, Ther festival procession, Theertham, and Thirukalyanam. The chariot festival, Ther Thiruvila, is trendy and vibrant. The adorned statues of Lord Shanmuhar and his consorts are carried on a Silver Throne called Simmasanam. Devotees come together, shoulder to shoulder, to pull the massive chariot through the streets, demonstrating their sincerity and devotion to God Murugan.
In conclusion, Nallur Kandaswamy Kovil is a significant Hindu temple in Nallur, Northern Province, Sri Lanka. With its rich history, splendid architecture, and cultural significance, the temple attracts devotees and visitors from far and wide. It serves as a testament to the enduring devotion of the Sri Lankan Tamil community and continues to be a source of spiritual inspiration and cultural pride.
1. How old is Nallur Kandaswamy Kovil? The original Kandaswamy Temple was founded in 948 AD, which is over a thousand years old.
2. Who built the present Nallur Kandaswamy Kovil? The present temple was constructed in 1734 AD by 'Don Juan' Ragunatha Maapaana Mudaliyar during the Dutch colonial era.
3. What are the architectural features of the temple? Nallur Kandaswamy Kovil showcases Dravidian architecture, featuring a grand five-story tower or gopuram at the main entrance.
4. What is the social significance of the temple? The temple holds immense social importance for the Sri Lankan Tamil community, symbolising their identity and cultural memory.
5. What are the major festivals celebrated at Nallur Kandaswamy Kovil? The temple hosts various festivals, including Ther Thiruvila (chariot festival), Manjam, Thirukkarthikai, Kailasavahanam, and Thirukalyanam.