Thiruketheeswaram Kovil – Mannar

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Thiruketheeswaram is an ancient Hindu temple in Manthota, about seven miles north of Mannar Town. According to legend, it was at this ancient temple that Kethu Bhagavan worshiped Lord Siva. Hence the shrine acquired the name of Thiruketheeswaram.

This temple dedicated to the worship of the God Siva has been the most venerated for centuries and the holy waters of the Palavi Tank by its side are venerated in the sacred hymns of two great Saivite saints, Thirugnana Sambandhar and Sundarar, who lived in the 7th and 8th Centuries respectively. This is one of the five main kovils scattered around the country dedicated to God Siva.

Although there is no record of the origin of the temple, Hindus believe that this temple was built in pre-Christian times. Since the port of Manthota in Mannar has been in use long before Christ and has been the main entry port to Sri Lanka from India, this may well be true.

The invasion of Portuguese Catholic Colonists in 1505 created the darkest era in the country for Buddhists and Hindus. The Portuguese blinded by faith and greed for wealth plundered and destroyed temples taking all valuables with them. Countless Buddhist and Hindu temples were destroyed and razed to the ground leaving no sign of any structure in the name of God. The Tiruketeeswaram Kovil too faced this wrath and the building material of the Kovil as well as Buddhist temples was used to build the Fort of Mannar, the churches, and the Hammershield Fort at Kayts.

Almost 400 years later, the exact location of the destroyed temple was traced in 1894 and some restoration work was done in the early part of the 20th Century. A small temple was re-consecrated in June 1903. The central shrine was reconstructed and re-consecrated around 1921. The temple has gone through several facelifts and additions until 1970s and the Palavi Tank was rebuilt in 1949.

With the emergence of LTTE terrorists in the 1980s, this area became inaccessible to regular pilgrims. But now after the defeat of this terror group, the temple is accessible once again to pilgrims with the protection of the Sri Lankan security forces and Police.

Map of Thiruketheeswaram Kovil – Mannar

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The map above also shows other places of interest within a approximately 20 km radius of the current site. Click on any of the markers and the info box to take you to information of these sites

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Travel Directions to Thiruketheeswaram Kovil

Route from Colombo to Thiruketheeswaram Kovil Route from Anuradhapura to Thiruketheeswaram Kovil
Through : Negombo – puttam – Eluwankulama
Distance : 260 km
Travel time : 6 hours
Driving directions : see on google map
Through : Madawachchiya
Distance : 110 km
Travel time : 2 hours
Driving directions : see on google map


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