Thursday, 9 September 2021

Sri Ponnambalawaneswaram Kovil (Kotahena)

Ponnambalawaneswaram Kovil
Sri Ponnambalawaneswaram Kovil, also known as Ramanathan Kovil (Tamil: ஸ்ரீ பொன்னம்பலவனேஸ்வரம் கோவி; Sinhala: කොටහේන ශ්‍රී පොන්නම්බලවානේශ්වරම් කෝවිල), is a Hindu temple situated in Kotahena in Colombo District, Sri Lanka. 

A temple for the religious needs of Hindus who were living in Kotahena and the surrounding area was built at the present site in 1856 under the guidance of Sir Arunachalam Ponnambalam Mudaliyar who lived in Chetty Street (De Silva & Chandrasekara, 2009). However, his son Ramanathan demolished this temple and built a new one at the same site between 1907 and 1912 (De Silva & Chandrasekara, 2009; Manathunga, 2016).

The temple
Although the present temple is entirely built up of granite, the original shrine constructed by Sir Arunachalam Ponnambalam Mudaliyar was a building made of limestone and mortar (De Silva & Chandrasekara, 2009; Manathunga, 2016). After it was demolished, the present temple was built by Ramanathan following the traditional Hindu architectural principles. As granite was used as the primary material for the construction, the temple soon became popular among devotees as the "Gal Kovila" which means the "Stone Kovil".

The building is square in shape and its walls, as well as the ceiling, are entirely made of large stone blocks (De Silva & Chandrasekara, 2009). In the central part of the shrine are the Garbhagruha (sanctum) and the Mandapa (pavilion). Two ambulatories have been provided around them for the devotees. Sculptures of gods, animals, Hindu symbols and decorated pillars have added the temple a majestic appearance.


1) De Silva, N.; Chandrasekara, D.P., 2009. Heritage Buildings of Sri Lanka. Colombo: The National Trust Sri Lanka, ISBN: 978-955-0093-01-4. p.113.
2) Manathunga, S. B., 2016. Pauranika Sthana Saha Smaraka: Kolamba Distrikkaya (In Sinhala). Department of Archaeology (Sri Lanka). ISBN: 955-9159-39-9. pp.78-79. 

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This page was last updated on 2 February 2023


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