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KALESHVARAM KOVIL

Just behind the Fort Railway Station and the Pettah Floating Market is the Sri Kaleshwaram Kovil, also spelt Sri Kaileswaram, the name Kailash, which is the mountain abode of Lord Shiva, indicates that this temple is dedicated to the supreme deity venerated in the Hindu faith of Tamils. Besides Shiva, also his son Ganesha has a shrine in the temple compound. The Kaleshwaram Kovil is sometimes confused with the nearby Sri Kailawasanathan Swami Devasthanam Kovil, which is situated at the opposite side of Beira Lake in the neighborhood of Slave Island, more precisely, between Murugan Street and Kew Passage. The Kaleshvaram Kovil, however, belongs to the neighborhood of Pettah, though it cannot be reached from Pettah Market directly. In fact, it's easier to visit the temple coming from the Maradana Railway Station further southeast than from the Fort Railway Station. The temple is located at the temple road, which branches off from Wijewardene Mawatta, the latter being the street running along the northern shores of Beira Lake. This area just to the south of the railway line and to the north of Beira Lake is known as Captain's Garden. Accordingly, the Kaleshwaram Kovil is also knownn The Captain's Garden Hindu Temple in English. There are two temples in the Captains Garden. One is the main one as Kailasanathar Temple which is also called as Kaileswaram. The other one is devoted to Lord Vignewar also named as Ganapathi and Pillaiyar. These temples used to be opened in the morning and evening times. Normally they are closed in the noon time. Fridays are special for the Hindu religion people. So, on these days the temple will be kept for more hours. Also, during the temple's annual festival, it used to be kept more hours. Sri Kailasanathar Kovil is one of the most frequented temples in Colombo. The temples are looking great from the outside and also inside. Colorful paintings and art works are available around the temple.

This is the oldest (125 years old) and largest Hindu temple in the city. Like most major hindu temples, the architecture is incredibly ornate. Hundreds of sculptures and carvings of hindu deities adorn the high, sloping blue roof, the top of which is 80 feet above the ground. The inside is relatively plain, but the walls have some religious paintings and murals. There may be some classical devotional music being played when you visit. The atmosphere inside is very clean and welcoming, in sharp contrast to the rather dirty streets outside. The coat of paint certainly is, and they're building more off to the side. The main kovil that is a square around an inner sanctum. Inside there's a simple but wonderful band playing, when we went just one drummer and one man playing a wind instrument. The main objects of worship at the temple are Easwaran (Shiva) and Ganesh, but there are altars and images of a range of gods.

Pay special attention to the ceiling which has beautiful painted images and statues. It's a local kovil which people do come to worship at quite seriously, but they're also open to tourists and taking pictures (for a nominal charge). The kovil is in an interesting location.

In reality, however, it's within a somewhat isolated loop with all the main roads some distance away. Most of the neighborhood is taken up by rail tracks. Despite being in the center of Colombo, the kovil is actually out there on its own. Some kovils are less friendly to non-worshipers than others. This one is good for tourists or photo-happy locals.

Obviously, you need to respect basic standards of dress and decency and not interrupt the people actually praying there.

The oldest kovil in Colombo is definitely worth a morning visit. It's in a hidden part of the city and is quite pretty and friendly.

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