The Naguleswaram Kovil, situated atop Keerimalai, is one of Sri Lanka’s most significant kovils.
Keerimalai itself has quite a reputation. The town, which is about 25km away from Jaffna town, is famed for its mineral water springs, where many locals go to bathe as it’s believed that these springs hold curative abilities.
An Ancient Shrine
The Naguleswaram Kovil, dedicated to Lord Shiva, is one of the oldest shrines in the region and is venerated by Hindus from all around. During the Portuguese occupation of Sri Lanka, the kovil was mostly destroyed by Jesuit missionaries. The kovil was later restored in 1894 by one Arumuka Navalar.
A century later, it came under control of the Sri Lankan forces due to civil conflict, only being freed up for visitors again after the end of the war. Following this, significant expansion efforts were carried out and it was officially opened to the public again in 2012.
A Spring of Religious Importance
The kovil also attracts many Hindus during the month of ‘Aadi’ on the Tamil calendar. This is when the Aadi Amaavaasai festival takes place, usually around the time of the new moon, when men carry out rituals in the springs of Keerimalai, right opposite the place of worship. The rituals that are conducted include ablutions, and prayers offered for departed souls of loved ones, with a Hindu priest leading devotees through it all. Interesting trivia: The name Keerimalai translates to ‘Mongoose Hill’ from Tamil!
Keerimalai and the Naguleswaram Kovil offer visitors both beautiful views and a peace of mind, so if you’re up for a spiritual and physical cleansing, Keerimalai is the place to go!