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Naguleswaram temple

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Naguleswaram temple

Naguleswaram temple
The ancient gopuram of the Keerimalai Naguleswaram Kovil
The ancient gopuram of the Keerimalai Naguleswaram Kovil
Naguleswaram temple is located in Sri Lanka
Naguleswaram temple
Naguleswaram temple
Location in Sri Lanka
Proper name Keerimalai Naguleswaram Kovil
Tamil கீரிமலை நகுலேஸ்வரம்
Country Sri Lanka
Province Northern
District Jaffna District
Location Keerimalai, Kankesanturai
Primary deity Shiva
Architectural styles Dravidian architecture
History and governance
Date built pre 6th century BCE

Keerimalai Naguleswaram temple (Tamil: கீரிமலை நகுலேஸ்வரம் கோயில்), historically known also as the Thirutambaleswaram Kovil of Keerimalai, is a famous Hindu temple in Keerimalai, located north of Jaffna, Northern Province, Sri Lanka near the ancient port of Kankesanthurai. One of the oldest shrines of the region, it is the northernmost shrine on the island of the five ancient Iswarams of Lord Siva, venerated by Hindus across the world from classical antiquity. Its adjacent water tank, the Keerimalai Springs, is believed to have curative properties.

Keerimalai is 50 feet above sea level, and situated west of Palaly. The fresh water comes from an underground spring source. Hindus flock in large numbers on “Aadi Amaavaasai” day which falls during the Tamil month of “Aadi”, to carry out rituals for their forefathers and take a divine dip in the natural springs. These rituals are usually carried out by men. “Keerimalai” is particularly famous for this festival.


  • History 1
    • Etymology 1.1
    • Chronology 1.2
  • Mentioned in Puranams 2
  • Destruction by the Portuguese 3
  • Reconstruction 4
  • Occupation by Sri Lankan Army 5
  • Mahakumbhabhishekam in 2012 6
  • Gallery 7
  • See also 8
  • References 9
  • External links 10



Keeri in Tamil and Nagula in Sanskrit mean Mongoose. Keeri-malai in Tamil means Mongoose-Hill. The temple is situated adjacent to the mineral water springs. The legendary sage Nagula Muni, shrunk by age and austerity while meditating at a cave in Keerimalai was likened to mongooses that frequented the area. The sage bathed in the springs and was cured of his mongoose face. In gratitude, Nagula Muni constructed a small shrine and worshipped the Lingam enshrined there. This became known as the Thirutambaleswaram Kovil of Keerimalai and also the Naguleswaram Kovil of Keerimalai alluding to the sage.


The Cholan princess Maruthapura Veeravalli built the nearby Maviddapuram Murugan temple after she was cured by the Keerimalai springs.

Mentioned in Puranams

The temple is referenced in religious treatises such as Dakshina Kailasa Puranam and Skanda Puranam.

Destruction by the Portuguese

After 1620 ACE it was destroyed by Portuguese colonialists. The final destruction was recorded in 1621 ACE. The local brahmin priests are said to have hid the main icons before fleeing the temple.


After a gap of almost 400 years in 1894 ACE, local Sri Lankan Tamil Hindu people of under the urging of Hindu reformer Arumuka Navalar came together and built the present temple. However the temple was destroyed by fire in 1918 and had to be rebuilt.

Occupation by Sri Lankan Army

In 1983, the temple was occupied by the Sri Lankan army and devotees and priests were unable to visit the premises without special permits.

In 1990, the 18th of October the Sri Lankan Air force bombed the temple killing a number of civilians and destroying the temple.

The chief priest was allowed in 1997 and discovered that the temple was utterly in ruin with the sacred icons vandalized or missing. The temple has not been restored.

Mahakumbhabhishekam in 2012

On Monday, February 6, 2012, the reconstruction of the temple had been complete and under the authority of the chief priest, Sivasri Naguleswara Kurukkal, the Mahakumbhabhishekam took place. It was a monumental event with thousands of devotees who came to pray and receive blessings.


Naguleswaram Temple Gallery

See also


External links

  • Naguleswaram restoration committee
  • Sri Lankan Army occupation of the temple premises
  • Devotees throng Keerimalai to fast
  • Five ancient Shiva temples of Sri Lanka
  • Destruction of Hindu Temples in Sri Lanka
  • State Sponsored Destruction and Desecration of Hindu Temples
  • Naguleswaram Temple Photos
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