Sacred Hindu Temple of Munesvaram (Munesvaram, Sri Lanka)

The Muneswaram temple that locates at the west coast of Sri Lanka is a temple where Shiva deity as one of the highest god of Hinduism are enshrined. A lot of believers visit the pilgrimage since it is one of the three similar temples with the history as the eminent sacred ground in Sri Lanka. It seems to relate historically to a fishing village Udappwa only where the rate of Hindu population is very high in the west coast with few Hidu people.

The temple was built in the 15th century, but it was destroyed by Portuguese in the 16th century, and was rebuilt afterwards.

As we walked an approach to the temple with souvenir shops and offering shops, the wall painted on red appeared. Over the small gate is precincts enclosed by the corridor with a main shrine and a waiting hall at the center. It was snug for the sacred ground where Sri Lankan Hinduism is represented.

The corridor and the waiting hall are new and insipid, while the main shrine is construction 400 years ago. The old stone wall stands, and, on the top, the trapezoid roof is put covering with the colored sculpture. It is an elaborate appearance.

We entered in the main shrine after having waited a little in the waiting hall. The interior of main shrine is a dim space where the stone pillars with refrained decoration are queued up. It seems to be simple as a Hindu Architecture. We advanced further on in and worship, then the staff put a round sign "Bindi" on the middle of the forehead by color powder even for the pagan. It didn't hang for as much as ten minutes after we entered in the gate. When it is too speedy, the divine grace seems to be rather few. After that, we went on a pilgrimage for deities along the corridor, but it was over at once.

Although the size will not decide the standing of the sacred ground, the small size of Muneswaram as a sacred ground is contrasted with the huge size's Hinduism temples in south India near Sri Lanka. Its difference is based on the difference of the country size between India and Sri Lanka, a reflection of the standing position of the Hindu who belongs to the minority in Sri Lanka, or a proof that Sri Lankan culture has no obsession to hugeness?

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90 minutes by car from the Colombo international airport, 2 hours by car from the downtown of Colombo.




2008.01 Photos in English version, and photos and text in Japanese version

2018.01 Change of photos and English text

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Temple of Munesvaram (15th century - 16th century)

Photo by Daigo Ishii