Sri Kathirvelayutha Swamy Kovil Hindu Temple

This amazing Hindu temple can be found at 141 1st Cross Street in Pettah, Colombo, Sri Lanka. The temple was not as beautiful as I had expected it to be. Although once richly decorated and colourful it needs a good coat of paint and some restoration. The surroundings also need cleaning up. Inside there are shrines dedicated to Shiva and Ganesh.

It is the oldest Hindu temple in Colombo. Hinduism is not the religion of major Sri Lankan, the Buddhism is the popular religion in Sri Lanka, constitutes about 70% of the whole population. The Hindu religion was introduced to Sri Lanka by the Tamil migrant workers from Southern India and traders.

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.

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