Nallur Kandaswamy Kovil

Top choice hindu site in Jaffna

This huge Hindu temple, crowned by a towering god-encrusted, golden-ochre gopuram, is one of the most significant Hindu religious complexes in Sri Lanka. Its sacred deity is Murugan (or Skanda), and during cacophonous puja – at 5am, 10am, noon, 4.15pm (small puja), 4.30pm (‘special’ puja), 5pm and 6.45pm – offerings are made to his brass-framed image and other Hindu deities like Ganesh in shrines surrounding the inner sanctum. It's about 1.5km northeast of the centre.

The kovil’s current structure dates from 1734, and its huge compound shelters decorative brasswork, larger-than-life murals, pillared halls and a colonnaded, stepped holy pool.

Several friendly priests, some of whom speak English, can answer questions about the temple and its traditions. Visitors must remove their shoes; men need to remove their shirts as well.

You can also say a prayer at the sacred tree in the temple’s southern courtyard anytime: get a piece of gold-threaded cloth from outside the temple, wrap some coins in it, and tie it to the tree along with a prayer. Afterwards, ring the big brass bell.

The temple is the focus of the enormous and spectacular Nallur Festival in midsummer.