Pettah

Sri Kathirvelayutha Swamy Kovil Hindu Temple

There are many Hindu temples in Colombo the capital city of Sri Lanka. Some of the best can be seen in the Pettah region of Colombo. Hindu temples are known locally as 'Kovils'. Take a tuk-tuk to Sea Street. Here you will find two temples. The New Kathiresan Kovil next to the old Kathiresan Temple. They are both dedicated to the war god Murugan sometimes called Skanda. During the annual Hindu Vel festival held in July/August the temples are used as the starting point of the religious procession. A large vel (trident) chariot is dragged to various Hindu kovils temples on Galle Rd in Bambalapitiya, Colombo.

It is still worth the effort of locating the temple complex at the northern end of 1st Cross Street in the Pettah area of Colombo. You can also visit the Old Colonial Dutch Museum and the red and white striped Jami Ul Alfar Mosque, both are nearby.

1st Cross Street is just north of Colombo Fort Railway Station, The nearest junction to the Sammangodu Sri Kathirvelayutha Swamy Kovil Hindu Temple is Bankshall Street and 1st Cross St. It is not in an attractive street. it is quite rundown with dirt in the road. I would have thought that members or staff of the congregation would take more pride in their temple and its vicinity, but they don’t.

The difference with the Sammangodu Sri Kathirvelayutha Swamy Kovil Hindu Temple and other nearby temples is the depiction of Asian Elephants used in Hindu ceremonies. On the outside wall there is a row of walking elephants with gold head wear and a elegant gold trimmed blankets on their backs.

If you look higher up in the roof carving you will see more elephants. If you are travelling with children get them to count how many elephants they can see. What is striking about the carving is how many different gods and goddesses are portrayed in human form. Each carving helps tell a religious Hindu story.

Some gods have more than one pair of arms and sit on a five headed snakes body. Some Hindu gods have an elephant face like Ganesh, the god of intellect and remover of obstacles. Can you spot him on the roof? Look for the statue of Brahma who has four heads and is believed to be the creator.