Munneswaram Temple

Munneswaram Temple

Near by Munneswaram Temple

Images of Munneswaram Temple

About Munneswaram Temple

Central to the spiritual beings of the Puttalam district lies the Munneswaram Temple. It's one of the three celebrated ancient Isvarams of Lord Siva - the other two are Thirukethiswaram near Mannar and Konneswaram in Trincomalee. The temple is located half a mile east of Chilaw in a village where Tamils and Sinhalese live harmoniously.

It's said that the temple has been around since 1000 CE. The boundaries of the kovil hold five temples, one of which is dedicated to a Buddhist deity named Ayyanayake. The main temple honours Lord Shiva, which is supposed to be the biggest and most popular temple among Hindus. The other temples are dedicated to Ganesha and Kali. 

The myth behind the temple:

The mythical tales passed on about the temple is not solid and differs between the Tamil and Sinhala community. However, at the end of the day who doesn't enjoy a good story!

The Hindu Tamils believe that King Rama, a character from a Hindu epic Ramayana, prayed to Lord Shiva at Munneswaram after he fought with the demon-King Ravana.

The Sinhala Buddhists on the other hand deem that Munneswaram is principally a goddess temple that is associated with Kali. Kali is associated with death, time and sorcery. She is always portrayed as evil and fierce. So according to the Sinhalese a deity named Pattini prevented Kali from devouring human beings and made her settle down in Munneswaram.

What you can do:

  • Take in the colour and significance of the Munneswaram Festival which takes place in August and September and lasts for 27 days.
  • During the festival you can take a look at local skills displayed via stalls. Traders sell various hand painted animals made out of clay such as the deer, money box tills and 'raban' (traditional hand drums).
  • You can also experience the 9 day festival of Navarathri in October which honours the three major companions of Brahma, Vishnu and Siva. Three days are allocated for each partner. Parvati or Uma is the wife Siva, Lakshmi is the wife of Vishnu and Sarasvati is the wife of Brahma. Respectively they grant fruitfulness, wealth and wisdom.

An inside look at the Munneswaram Festival:

  • During the first 13 days there is an internal devale peraheras which is conducted in the outer area of the Maha Devale.
  • On the penultimate day of the festival a car procession takes place where the God's image is placed upon a huge wooden juggernaut and pulled around the temple by devotees.
  • On the final day of the festival two large chariots gaily decked are drawn by the devotees to the Deduru-oya for the water-cutting ceremony. Images of Siva or Mahaisvaram and his consort Parvati or Uma take pride of position between the two chariots. The statue of Ganesha goes in front with that of Shiva's the two sons of Siva.