The Nallur Kandasamy Kovil is one of Northern Sri Lanka’s most significant spiritual centres, located in the small town of Nallur in the Jaffna province. The entire province is saturated with the rich cultural legacy of the Tamil Hindu community on the island and it is well worth exploring through a bout of Sri Lanka travel. Cultural explorers looking for a unique brand of Sri Lankan culture will find it in the north through a range of Sri Lanka tours offered by such quality travel companies as Jetwing Travels. From start to finish, you can be assured of a five-star travel experience when you embark on a tour with these professionals in the local travel trade. The sight of the Nallur Kandasamy Kovil is an impressive one indeed, as this shrine stands dedicated to Lord Skanda-Murugan in the form of the holy Vel, or divine spear that he famously carries with him in Hindu lore. In addition, the temple houses a beautiful statue of Nallurdevi, which was gifted to the temple by the Chola Queen Sembiyan Mahadevi in the 10th century CE, and it was fashioned in the exquisite manner of the Sembiyan bronzes. The present-day temple has seen four different incarnations, and the modern site is not located on the original temple grounds, erected in 948, which now houses churches that were built by the Portuguese during their occupation of the country.
Nallur was the impressive ancient capital of the Jaffna kings, and the official royal palace was situated close to the old temple’s premises, which functioned as a defensive fort with towering walls back in its heyday. The entrance of the current temple faces east and it has a magnificent gopuram built in the traditional Dravidian architectural style, adding that fine touch of grandeur to all temples of this ilk. Its magnificent inner courtyard features shrines dedicated to the deities Lord Ganesh, Lord Vairavar, the Sun, and Lord Sandana Gopala. The temple’s southern section is the holy pond and a Thandyayudhapaani shrine, which is dedicated to an aspect of Lord Murugan. A large and verdant holy garden graces the temple’s northern corner. The Nallur temple is famous for its annual festival which begins with the hoisting of the flag, called the “Kodiyetram”. The festival spans 25 days filled with special poojas and holy Abishekams, which is a revered practice of bathing the statues with king coconut water, milk or water. The famous Ther Thiruvala chariot festival sees the ornately adorned statue of Lord Murugan placed on an elaborate silver throne and then the magnificent chariot bearing the stature is paraded throughout the streets of Nallur. A thousand-strong throng of devotees spanning all ages and economics backgrounds pull the grand chariot and are a testament to Lord Murugan’s faithful masses in the area. This impressive temple and its exquisite cultural celebrations are a definite must-see and are an iconic aspect of traditional Sri Lankan culture.
Angela Fernando is an impassioned travel writer who composes pieces under the pen name Sumaira Narayan. She loves writing about new and exciting places around the world and intends to visit them all someday.