Kailasanathar Sivan Temple (Captain's Garden)

Captain's Garden Kailasanathar Sivan Temple
Kailasanathar Sivan Temple, also known as Kailasanatha Swamy Kovil, Sri Kailesanathar Swamy Devasthanam, Sri Kaileswaram Temple (Tamil: ஸ்ரீ கைலேஸ்வரம் கோவில்; Sinhala: කෛලේශ්වරම් කෝවිල), is a Hindu temple situated in Captain's Garden near Colombo Terminus Railway Station in Colombo District, Sri Lanka. It is considered the first and oldest Hindu temple in Colombo City (Somasundaram, 1949).

The temple was built by the South Indian Vaniga Vaishya Chettyars (Thiruvilanga Nagaratthar) who settled down in the Captain's Garden area in Colombo during the latter part of the Dutch regime (Dutch Ceylon: 1658-1796 A.D.) or during the reign of the King Rajadhi Rajasinha (1781-1798 A.D.) of Kandy (Arumugam, 1991; Somasundaram, 1949). At the time of their arrival, most of the maritime provinces of the country were under the control of the Dutch. The Chettyars successfully built relations with the Dutch and established their business activities in Gilmabhoodhawatta (or Kadurgahawatta) in Captain's Garden [(or Kappittawatta) Somasundaram, 1949].

Saivaism was the religion of the Chettyar community. Initially, they observed their religion by conducting Poojas to a Sivalingam erected under a tree (Somasundaram, 1949). The Sivalingam was said to be maintained and looked after by a devotee named Sri Veerapathran Chettyar who with the support of the Chettyar community laid the foundation for a new Sivan temple on a plot of land owned by him in 1783 (Somasundaram, 1949). This temple in the course of time became a fully developed Hindu place of worship and came to be known as the Sri Kailasanatha Swamy Kovil in Kappittawatta (Somasundaram, 1949). However, according to another story, a devoted worshipper at the Bala Selvavinayakar Murti temple at Captain's Garden made a vow that if he had a child, he would build a proper Sivan temple around the Sivalingam that was erected under the tree (Arumugam, 1991). It is said that as he was blessed with a son later, he erected the Kailasanathar Sivan Kovil to fulfil his vow (Arumugam, 1991).

In the beginning, the temple was looked after by Sri Veerapathran Chettyar and after his death in 1828, Sri Sithambaram Ramiah Chettyar became the warden of the temple (Somasundaram, 1949). Sri Sithambaram Ramiah Chettyar died in 1851 and after that, the Chettyar community formed a Board of Trustees to manage and conduct the religious rituals at the temple (Somasundaram, 1949). Several improvements and additions to the temple were done in 1933 by this Board of Trustees making it a comprehensive Sivan temple (Arumugam, 1991).

In 1913, the Railway Department acquired the temple lands and as a result, the temple became a place encircled by the railway lines (Somasundaram, 1949).

The temple
The temple houses the Murtis of Sivan, Pillaiyar, Ambal, Subramaniyar and Chandikeswar. Besides them, there are Prahara Murti temples for the gods Vinayakar, Nadarajar, Maha Vishnu, Saniyeswarar and Navagraha deities. There are also shrines for Kasi Viswanatha, Kasi Visaladchi, Brahma, Durga and Kali Amman.

Captain's Garden Kailasanathar Sivan Temple
1) 151023_037 and 151023_046 by 123_456 are licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.
2) 151023_045151023_053151023_049 and 151023_044, by 123_456 are licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

1) Arumugam, S., 1991. More Hindu temples of Sri Lanka. London. p.21.
2) Somasundaram, V., 1949. Sri Kailasanatha Swamy Kovil Captains Garden Colombo. pp.1-3.

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This page was last updated on 2 May 2023

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