Exquisite granite architecture in a stunning dreamlike temple
- Sri Ponnabala Vaneswaram Kovil, 38, Sri Ramandan Street, Colombo 13
- Closed between 12pm-3pm; Friday and Tuesday can be busy
- +94 11 2431252
This Kovil is a genius piece of architecture. The grand hall is made of thick black granite walls. Hundreds of pillars graciously carry a roof with intricately carved openings to leave in rays of sunlight. Inside is a solemn peaceful atmosphere without being heavy. Women pray, offer flowers or just sit and chat in small groups enjoying the coolness of the granite walls. There’s always a small ceremony going on, priests give blessings and attend to the fires. The muted sounds, the smell of incense and the delicate light-play of sun and firelight make it a magical place.
Conceived in a dream
The Kovil was the brainchild of Sir. Ponnambalam Ramanathan, a famous statesman, one-time attorney general and a key figure in Sri Lanka’s independence struggle. It is said the design came to him in a dream. It was not an easy journey to make it happen; raw material was sourced from all over the island - the black granite came all the way from quarries in Veyangoda - and craftsmen were brought in from India. His masterwork of stone-craft was completed in 1915.
A tranquil place
The best times to visit are in the early mornings or evenings. Watch the ceremonies dedicated to Shiva and listen to the prayers, complemented by the playing of the nadaswaram (long flute) and various percussion instruments. Don’t forget to ring the bells at the foot of the door before you leave to bring you some good luck!