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Kokkadicholai Thaanthonreeswarar Temple

Situated approximately 1 hour from Pasikuda,  the Kokkadicholai Thaanthonreeswarar kovil is one of the oldest and most important kovils in Sri Lanka. The Hindu temple, which is dedicated to Lord Shiva, can be accessed via the Manmunai Bridge.

Though its exact date of establishment hasn’t been determined, it’s widely believed that the person responsible was one Ulaga Naachi of the Chola Empire, sometime around the 4th century B.C. The entrance to the temple welcomes visitors with its vibrant facade, with two graceful, blocky pillars on either side of the main entrance, which reflects shades of pastel and duller blues and pinks.

The kovil is the embodiment of Hindu devotion as well as the culture of the people who follow Hinduism, as it attracts thousands of devotees annually for its mid-August chariot festival. This festival is preceded by two weeks of praying, numerous rituals and more to honour Lord Shiva. During the chariot festival, you’ll see the devotees carrying the main chariot with the image of Lord Shiva on it. The wooden sculptures on this chariot were, in fact, constructed in the 18th century.

The kovil is believed to be responsible for many miracles, with the locals claiming that one notable miracle took place when Sri Lanka was under Portuguese occupation. The bull statue that stands within the kovil premises is said to have chased away the Portugues soldiers who were there to demolish the kovil; an interesting piece of trivia to think about during your visit! Be warned, though, as there are only three entry points to the kovil, and it can get pretty crowded during the festival season.