Nallur Kandaswamy Kovil or Nallur Murugan Kovil temple–one of the most significant Hindu shrines in the Jaffna District of Northern Province of Sri Lanka
The Ancient Nallur Kandaswamy Temple stands majestically on the Point Pedro Road in Nallur Rajadhani in Jaffna, and it is about 1 ½ km from Jaffna Town. The Nallur Kandaswamy Temple is a prestigious temple in Jaffna, it is one of the most famous and significant Hindu temples in the Jaffna District. The temple was constructed during the reign of King Cinkai Aryan Cekaracacekaran (I) of the Arya Cakaravatti Dynasty.
The Nallur Kandaswamy Temple originally existed in the South-East section of the Nallur Rajadhani. Due to foreign invasions, the Nallur Kandaswamy temple had to be relocated several times to different places within the Nallur area. The present location of the Nallur Kandaswamy Temple is called “Kurukkal Valavu” and it exists in the North-West section of Nallur. The temple has its main entrance facing the East. It has an ornately carved five-story tower or Gopuram in the Dravidian architecture style at the main entrance. The shrine is dedicated to Lord Murugan (Skanda, the Hindu war God), in the form of the divine Vel.
During the festival season, the Sacred Flag is taken in a decorated Chariot from Nallur Saddanathar Sivan Temple to Nallur Kandaswamy Temple and handed over to the Chief Priest of the Nallur Kandaswamy temple, according to traditional rites, which was, been in force since the rule of Cankili Raja (I) Cekaracacekaran.
Unfortunately, after the Portuguese had conquered the Kingdom of Jaffna in 1621, the Nallur Kandaswamy temple was destroyed on the explicit orders of Captain Major Filipe de Oliveira. Later During the Dutch rule, Don Juan Ragunatha Mapana Mudaliyar who was Shroff in the Jaffna Kachcheri used his influence with the Dutch administration and got permission to rebuild the temple in the present location. Since then Don Juan Ragunatha Mapana Mudaliyar’s descendants have been the trustees of the temple.
Originally the shrine had two main halls. The first clock tower was made in 1899, the main hall where the lance of diety resided was refurbished in 1902. In 1964, the ‘Vasantha Mandapam’ or the Grand hall was renovated to give a magnificent look and rich feel.
The main entrance of the shrine faced towards the East was an ornately carved five-storey tower in the Dravidian architectural style just at the main entrance. The inner yard in the surroundings comprises carvings of Lords Ganesha, Vairavar, Sun and Sandana Gopala. The Southern part of this shrine has a holy pond and Thandayudhapaani temple which is dedicated to Lord Muruga. The Northern side has a big holy Garden.
The temple consists of four Kopurams, massive huge golden ochre Rajagopuram which is around seven-storied (22-25m) tall. Few of the gopurams were built within the last decade. The inner and outer circles function as normal roads except when the shrine has an elaborate festival.
The beautiful sculptures and architecture created by architects were bought by India and the shrine is a visual delight for the devotees.
The Shrine unveiled its new nine storeys Raja Gopuram also named Shanmuha Raja Gopuram on 21st August 2011 with an entrance called ‘Swarna Vaasal’.
Later, another New Raja Gopuram was unveiled on 4th September 2015 creating a New Northern entrance to the shrine complex known as Gubera Raja Gopuram the entrance was named s ‘Kubera Vaasal’.The southern Tower to date is recorded as the biggest Gopuram on the Island. ‘Guberan’ is the deity of wealth and protects the northern direction. Local people believed that Gopuram will attract more wealth to the people of the Jaffna Peninsula.
The annual festival of Nallur Kandaswamy Temple is conducted during July and August of each year for around 28 days, concluding with the new moon in the month of August. One is likely to see scores of devotees attending the elaborate “Pujas” and the procession of temple rathams (Chariots) being pulled through the streets.
The festival begins with Kodietram (Flag -hosting) on the sixth day following the New moon in the month of Adi (August) which continues for twenty-five days. The deity inside the inner precincts in the afternoon and outer precincts in the evening daily.
Lord Skanda does the rounds accompanied by the consorts Valli and Teivayanai. The vehicles are lavish having a variety ranging from Peacock, Silver Swan, Silver Rishapam, The cobra, the Green Peacock, The house etc. The Kailasa Vehicle consists of the bed and chariot which is a special attraction.
Many devotees and penitents can be seen bearing kavadis and having pierced bodies with hooks and spears without having any pain or harm which is the act of enormous faith and atonement.
Originally Nallur Kandaswamy Temple was on the same grand scale but currently, it is much smaller area wise.
The Nallur Kandswamy Shrine is located in the North-Western part of Sri Lanka, approximately 394 km from the country’s capital Colombo. It takes around 7 hours to drive from Colombo to Jaffna or take a quick flight from Colombo to Jaffna Airport. Colombo is well-connected to major Indian cities like New Delhi, Mumbai, Ahmedabad by flight.
The grandeur and charm of Nallur Kandaswamy Shrine have immense beauty which adds to its lure that leads the devotees awestruck which also rewinds the history of the golden era which is retained till now luxuriously.
Credit and Extremely Thankful to Honourable Raja Remigius Kanagarajah of Jaffna Sri Lanka