The Munneswaram Kovil, also spelt Munneshvaram Koil, is situated close to Halavata, formerly known under its English name Chilaw. This Hindu shrine of Munneswaram is one of the so-called Pancha Ishwarams, five ancient Tamil temples dedicated to Shiva. According to legends, the Munnesvaram Kovil is associated with the famous Indian epic Ramayana. It’s said to be the place where king Rama prayed to Shiva after committing the crime of Brahmahasti, the killing of the Brahmin Ravana, which had been necessary to liberate Rama’s consort Sita from captivity. Actually, the temple village of Munnesvaram has a collection of altogether five temples, the other four dedicated to Kali, Ganesha, Ayyanar and Buddha. The architecture of the Munesvaram Kovil and the other shrines is from the 20th century, the original temple was destroyed twice by Portuguese invaders. The Munneswaram temple festival is one of the longest in Sri Lanka, lasting a full month. It’s attended by Buddhists and Hindus from Sri Lanka and also pilgrims from India. Foreigner guests are rarely seen but welcome.
Nuwan Chinthaka Gajanayaka