Pillaiyar Kovil in Kandy (නුවර පුල්ලේයාර් කෝවිල)

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At the entrance to Kandy city as you travel from Colombo we see near the Kandy Police Station, a Hindu Temple popularly known to the Sinhalese as Pillaiyar Kovil dedicated to God Ganesh, the elephant headed son of Siva (see here for an interesting folklore how Ganesh ended up in a elephant head).

Unlike the Hatara Maha Devala in Kandy dedicated to Kataragama, Vishnu, Pattini and Natha, which lies close to the Temple of Tooth, this is a subsidiary Devalaya within the city which is deified by Tamils and Buddhists alike.

According to the folklore, the royal Dobhi (cloths washer) of King Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe (1798 – 1815) has been using a small waterfall originating from Bahirawakanda mountain which lies behind the kovil today. One day he dreamt of the deity Eshwara under a rock suggesting that a kovil be built at this site. He communicated this dream to his landlord, Arunasalam Ramanathan Chettiar who in turn informed King Rajasinghe who instructed to build the kovil here. Some attribute this incident to a previous King Keerthi Sri Rajasinghe (1747 – 1781). The ownership of the kovil is still with the descendants of the Chettiar and the present owner now lives in India (Abeyawardhana,2004).

According to tradition, the final day procession of the water cutting ceremony of four main devales (Vishnu, Natha, Kataragama and Pattini) in Kandy starts from the pulleyar Kovil after the water cutting ceremony.


  1. Seneviratna, A., 1983. Kandy: an Illustrated Survey of Ancient Monuments With Historical, Archaeological and Literary Descriptions Including Maps of the City and Its Suburbs. Colombo: Central Cultural Fund, Ministry of Cultural Affairs.
  2. Abeyawardhana, H. A. P. (2004) Heritage of Kandurata: Major Natural, Cultural, and Historic Sites. Kandy: Kandurata Development Bank, in association with the Central Bank of Sri Lanka.

Also See

  • Kandy – The Last Kingdom of Sinhale

Map of Kandy Pillaiyar Kovil

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Traveling Directions to Kandy Pillaiyar Kovil

Route 1 from Colombo to KandyRoute 2 from Colombo to Kandy
Though : kadawata – Warakapola – Ambepussa – Mawanella
Distance :120 km
Travel time : 3.45 hours
Driving directions : see on google map
Though : Katunayake Expressway –
Distance :150 km
Travel time : 3.20 hours
Driving directions : see on google map
Route From Nuwara Eliya to Kandy
Though : Walapane – Raja Mawatha
Distance :100 km
Travel time : 3.0 hours
Driving directions : see on google map

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