Nallur Kandaswamy temple

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Nallur Kandaswamy Temple
Nallur Kandasamy front entrance.jpg
Entrance to the Nallur Kandaswamy Kovil in Jaffna, Sri Lanka.
Affiliation Hinduism
District Jaffna District
Province Northern
Deity Lord Murugan
Country Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka location map.svg
Om symbol.svg
Location in Sri Lanka
Geographic coordinates 9°40′28.82″N80°1′46.61″E / 9.6746722°N 80.0296139°E / 9.6746722; 80.0296139 Coordinates: 9°40′28.82″N80°1′46.61″E / 9.6746722°N 80.0296139°E / 9.6746722; 80.0296139
Type Tamil architecture
Creator'Don Juan' Ragunatha Maapaana Mudaliyar
CompletedFounded in 948 ad reconstructed in 1734. [1]
House of temple car, where temple car preserves or rests during non-function. House of Temple car (chariot).jpg
House of temple car, where temple car preserves or rests during non-function.

Nallur Kandaswamy Kovil (Tamil : நல்லூர் கந்தசுவாமி கோவில் Sinhala : නල්ලුරුව ස්කන්ධ කුමාර කෝවිල) is a significant Hindu temple, located in Nallur, Northern Province, Sri Lanka. [2] The presiding deity is Lord Murugan or Katharagama Deviyo in the form of the holy 'Ve l' in the Sanctum, the primary shrine, and in other forms, namely, Shanmugar, Muthukumaraswami, Valli Kaanthar with consorts Valli and Deivayanai, and Thendayuthapani, sans consorts in secondary shrines in the temple. [3]

Tamil language language

Tamil is a Dravidian language predominantly spoken by the Tamil people of India and Sri Lanka, and by the Tamil diaspora, Sri Lankan Moors, Douglas, and Chindians. Tamil is an official language of three countries: India, Sri Lanka and Singapore. It is also the official language of the Indian state of Tamil Nadu and the Union Territory of Puducherry. It is used as one of the languages of education in Malaysia, along with English, Malay and Mandarin. Tamil is spoken by significant minorities in the four other South Indian states of Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana and the Union Territory of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. It is one of the 22 scheduled languages of India.

Sinhala language Language of the Sinhalese people of Sri Lanka

Sinhala, also known as Sinhalese, is the native language of the Sinhalese people, who make up the largest ethnic group in Sri Lanka, numbering about 16 million. Sinhala is also spoken as a second language by other ethnic groups in Sri Lanka, totalling about four million. It belongs to the Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European languages. Sinhala is written using Sinhala script, which is one of the Brahmic scripts, a descendant of the ancient Indian Brahmi script closely related to the Kadamba script.

Hindu temple house of worship in Hinduism

A Hindu temple is a symbolic house, seat and body of god. It is a structure designed to bring human beings and gods together, using symbolism to express the ideas and beliefs of Hinduism. The symbolism and structure of a Hindu temple are rooted in Vedic traditions, deploying circles and squares. It also represents recursion and equivalence of the macrocosm and the microcosm by astronomical numbers, and by "specific alignments related to the geography of the place and the presumed linkages of the deity and the patron". A temple incorporates all elements of Hindu cosmos—presenting the good, the evil and the human, as well as the elements of Hindu sense of cyclic time and the essence of life—symbolically presenting dharma, kama, artha, moksa, and karma.


Origins – The earlier shrines of Kandaswamy in Nallur

The original, Kandaswamy Temple was founded in 948 ad. According to the Yalpana Vaipava Malai , the temple was developed at the site in the 13th century by Buwanika Bahu, a minister to the King of Kotte. Sapumal Kumaraya (also known as Chempaha Perumal in Tamil), who ruled the Jaffna kingdom on behalf of the Kotte kingdom is credited with building the third Nallur Kandaswamy temple. [4] [5] Nallur served as the capital of the Jaffna kings, with the royal palace situated very close to the temple. Nallur was built with four entrances with gates. [6] There were two main roadways and four temples at the four gateways. [6]

Yalpana Vaipava Malai is a book written by a Tamil poet named Mayil Vaakaanar in Tamil மயில் வாகனார் 1736. This book contains historical facts of the early Tamil city of Jaffna. The book which may have been written around 1736 during the Governorship of Jan Maccara, the then Dutch Governor of Jaffna. It was translated from Tamil by C. Brito, and was first published in 1879. The work is looked upon as one of great authority among the Tamils of Jaffna.

The present rebuilt temple that exist now do not match their original locations which instead are occupied by churches erected by the Portuguese. [6] The center of the city was Muthirai Santhai (market place) and was surrounded by a square fortification around it. [6] There were courtly buildings for the kings, Brahmin priests, soldiers and other service providers. [6] The old Kandaswamy temple functioned as a defensive fort with high walls. [6] In general, the city was laid out like the traditional temple town according to Hindu traditions. [6] Cankilian Thoppu, the facade of the palace of King Cankili II, can still be found in Nallur. [7] The third temple was destroyed by the Portuguese Catholic colonial Filipe de Oliveira in 1624 AD. The original kovil was located where St. James' Church, Nallur is located today. Part of the original Shivalingam of the Nallur Kandaswamy Temple was located in the Vicarage till 1995 when it was destroyed during the recapture of Jaffna by Sri Lanka armed forces and the platform where the shivalingam was mounted on can still be seen in the hallway of the vicarage.

Cankili II Last king of Jaffna

Cankili II was the self-proclaimed last king of the Jaffna kingdom and was a usurper who came to throne with a palace massacre of the royal princess and the regent Arasakesari in 1617. His regency was rejected by the Portuguese colonials in Colombo, Sri Lanka. His reign was secured with military forces from the Thanjavur Nayaks and Karaiyar captains. He was defeated by the Portuguese in 1619 and was taken to Goa and hanged. With his death the Aryacakravarti line of Kings who had ruled the kingdom for over 300 years came to an end.

Portugal Republic in Southwestern Europe

Portugal, officially the Portuguese Republic, is a country located mostly on the Iberian Peninsula in southwestern Europe. It is the westernmost sovereign state of mainland Europe, being bordered to the west and south by the Atlantic Ocean and to the north and east by Spain. Its territory also includes the Atlantic archipelagos of the Azores and Madeira, both autonomous regions with their own regional governments.

Present Temple

The fourth and the present temple was constructed in 1734 A.D. during the benign Dutch colonial era by 'Don Juan' Ragunatha Maapaana Mudaliyar, who served as a Shroff in the Dutch Katchery, in a place identified then as the 'Kurukkal Valavu. Krishnaiyar a Brahmin, served as the first priest of the temple.

Netherlands Constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Europe

The Netherlands is a country located mainly in Northwestern Europe. The European portion of the Netherlands consists of twelve separate provinces that border Germany to the east, Belgium to the south, and the North Sea to the northwest, with maritime borders in the North Sea with Belgium, Germany and the United Kingdom. Together with three island territories in the Caribbean Sea—Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba—it forms a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The official language is Dutch, but a secondary official language in the province of Friesland is West Frisian.

Initially the temple was built using bricks and stones and had a cadjan roof, enshrining a 'Vel' in the middle. The original shrine had only two small halls.

Ragunatha Maapaana Mudaliyar's descendants continued to administor the temple as Custodians of the temple over the past centuries and to date many additions have been made to bring the temple to its present Glory.

The start of the 'Golden Period' in the history of Nallur Temple is recorded as post 1890, soon after the taking over the temple administration by Arumuga Maapaana Mudaliyar, the 7th Custodian. The first Bell tower was erected by him in 1899 and he made many improvements to the temple including the main Sanctum, renovating it using granite to pave the floor of the Sanctum in 1902. The first enclosing wall was erected in 1909 by him. Likewise, the temple has been gradually renovated from time to time by his successors to date. After the year 1964, the year the present and the 10th Custodian, Kumaradas Maapaana Mudaliyar took over office, extensive improvements have been made to date, virtually rebuilding the entire complex and making it physically the largest Hindu Temple Complex in the country. The custom of annual 'Thiruppani', introduced by him, has seen the temple growing into its present splendor. Today the temple has four Gopurams and six Bell Towers, along with its fortified walls, giving it an appearance of a citadel in Nallur.

The temple has the main entrance facing the east. It has an ornately carved five-story tower or gopuram in the Dravidian architecture style at the main entrance.

Gopuram monumental gateway tower to Hindu temple complexes

A Gopuram or gopura is a monumental entrance tower, usually ornate, at the entrance of a Hindu temple, in the Dravidian architecture of the Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Karnataka, and Telangana states of Southern India.

Dravidian architecture architectural idiom that emerged in the Southern part of the Indian subcontinent or South India, consisting primarily of temples with pyramid shaped towers

Dravidian architecture is an architectural idiom in Hindu temple architecture that emerged in the southern part of the Indian subcontinent or South India, reaching its final form by the sixteenth century. It consists primarily of Hindu temples where the dominating feature is the high gopura or gatehouse; large temples have several. Mentioned as one of three styles of temple building in the ancient book Vastu shastra, the majority of the existing structures are located in the Southern Indian states of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Telangana. Various kingdoms and empires such as the Cholas, the Chera, the Kakatiyas, the Pandyas, the Pallavas, the Gangas, the Kadambas, the Rashtrakutas, the Chalukyas, the Hoysalas, and Vijayanagara Empire among others have made substantial contribution to the evolution of Dravidian architecture.

In the surrounding inner veethy or circumbulatory path, it has shrines for Lords Ganesh, Palliyarai, Sandana Gopala r, Goddess Gajavalli Mahavalli, Vairavar and Sooriyan with Consorts, and Vairavar.

Krishna Major deity in Hinduism

Shree Krishna or simply Krishna is a major deity in Hinduism. He is worshipped as the eighth avatar of the god Vishnu and also as the supreme God in his own right. He is the god of compassion, tenderness and love in Hinduism, and is one of the most popular and widely revered among Indian divinities. Krishna's birthday is celebrated every year by Hindus on Krishna Janmashtami according to the lunisolar Hindu calendar, which falls in late August or early September of the Gregorian calendar.

In the southern part of this temple, the holy pond and Thandayudhapaani shrine can be seen. In the northern side, one finds the 'Poonthottam' the holy garden.

Social significance

The temple is a socially important institution for the Sri Lankan Tamils Hindu identity of north Sri Lanka. In the Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora, many temples have been built in Europe and North America using the same name as a cultural memory. Thanks to its Administration and strict decipline admired and revered by the devotees, Nallur Kovil is the epitome of punctuality, order and neatness, and provides a model for all Saiva temples. Above all it is the manner in which religious ceremonies are conducted with such impeccable timing and strict discipline that makes it a favourite amongst devotees.

New Maha Raja Gopuram Additions

Newly built gopuram at the southern side NallurKandaswamyKovilGopuram.jpg
Newly built gopuram at the southern side

On 21 August 2011 the temple unveiled its new Nine storey Raja Gopuram, Named 'Shanmuha Raja Gopuram' with an entrance called ' Swarna Vaasal' ( The Golden Entrance ) at 7:00am local time.

Another New Raja Gopuram was unveiled on 4 September 2015 at 07 a.m. local time, creating a new Northern entrance to the temple complex. It is known as 'Gubera Raja Gopuram', and the entrance named 'Kubera Vaasal'. This tower, slightly over powers the Southern tower and to date recorded as the biggest Gopuram in the Island. 'Guberan' is the deity for wealth and he protects the Northern direction. It is believed by the local people that this Gopuram will attract more wealth to the people of Jaffna peninsula.


The temple hosts the annual festival which begins with the hoisting of the Holy flag – the Kodiyetram. [8] The cloth for hoisting is ceremonially brought to the temple in a small chariot from a family belonging to the Sengunthar dynasty, for centuries.

The festival is spread over a period of twenty five days during which various Yāgams Abishekams and special poojas are conducted. The major religious festivals people flock to witness are the Manjam, Thirukkarthikai, Kailasavahanam, Velvimanam, Thandayuthepani it's a am, Sapparam, Ther festival procession, Theertham – the water cutting festival, and Thirukalyanam – The holy wedding. The Ther Thiruvila (chariot festival) is the most popular of all events is very colourful and commences at 6.15 am . The glamorously dressed Lord Shanmuhar and his consorts are carried out on a Silver Throne called 'Simmasanam', an intricatetly carved masterpiece created by the 7th Custodian, Arumuga Maapaana Mudaliyar in the year 1900. Hundreds of devotees carrying it on their shoulders, and the Simmasanam which floats on the heads of thousands of devotees shouting 'Aro hara' is a sight not to be missed.

The huge and heavy chariot carrying the statue of God Shanmuhar and consorts is paraded along the streets of the Temple. The chariot pulled by a rope of thousands of devotees, rich and poor, old and young stand shoulder to shoulder in pulling it giving God Murugan the opportunity to witness the sincerity and purity of the devotees.

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  3. "Nallur Kandaswamy Kovil in Jaffna, Sri Lanka". Lonely Planet . Retrieved 24 April 2017.
  4. Peebles, History of Sri Lanka, p. 34
  5. Gnanaprakasar, S A critical history of Jaffna, p. 103
  6. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 "Nallur Rajadhani: City Layout". V.N.Giritharan. Archived from the original on 25 December 2007. Retrieved 2 December 2007.
  7. Kunarasa, K The Jaffna Dynasty, p. 4