Visit the Munneswaram Temple near Chilaw
A collection of five individual temples, the Munneswaram Temple Complex near Chilaw is a particularly important site for Hindus in Sri Lanka and is thought to date back to as early as 1000 CE.
The largest and most prominent of the five temples is the central temple which is dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva. The other temples are dedicated to Ganesha, Kali and Ayyanayake, while the last of the five temples is for Buddhists.
Destruction and transformation
Perhaps fitting for a temple dedicated to the Hindu god of Shiva – the “destroyer and transformer” – the temple complex has been destroyed and rebuilt twice in its long history. The Portuguese were responsible for the destruction on both occasions and then gave the complex over to the Jesuits. The local Sinhala and Tamils rebuilt the temple on the existing foundations and it remains an active place of worship and devotion to this day.
Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims and Christians join together for the annual Munneswaram Festival, an event that lasts four weeks in August and September. The Hindu festival of Navratri is also celebrated at the temple each autumn, as is the Sivarathri festival which usually takes place in February and honours the Hindu god of Shiva.