Sri Subramaniya Kovil

Found on Slave Island, Sri Subramaniya Kovil is one of Colombo’s most impressive Hindu temples. We were welcomed inside on a balmy February morning, and had a great time watching the ceremonies. When we left, it was with colorful dots on our foreheads and a beginner’s appreciation of Hindu.

Sri Subramaniya Kovil

Slave Island takes its name from the days when Colombo was ruled by the Netherlands. It’s actually an inland peninsula, enclosed by Beira Lake, which provided the colonialists a handy place in which to confine their African slaves. Only one side needed to be protected against escape attempts, because the dastardly Dutch had filled the waters with alligators. It’s as though they delighted in pure evil! (1) Subjugate an island nation. (2) Ship in foreign slaves. (3) Guard slaves with man-eating monsters. They probably wore handlebar mustaches, too.

When our tuk-tuk pulled up in front of the Sri Subramaniya Kovil on Slave Island, my jaw dropped. An 82-foot tower reaches up to the sky, covered with what must be hundreds of Hindu deities. The sculpture work is intricate, colorful and not a little gaudy.

Colombo Sri Subramaniya Kovil

After removing our shoes, we stepped inside. Nobody seemed to mind us our presence and, to the contrary, we were made to feel welcome. A number of brahmans were wandering around, and gave us some flower petals to place before the shrine of our choosing, then put dots of color onto our foreheads: a tilak, which represents the “third eye” common to many of the Hindu gods.

This was my first time inside any sort of Hindu temple, and it was fascinating. There were a number of shrines inside, which people were circling in a clockwise manner. Priests were carrying offering plates to the various shrines and blessing the faithful. There was fire involved. Elephant gods. Face painting. Incense. Requisite shirt-removal. Bells, flowers and chanting. My overall impression? Hinduism is kind of a blast.

Location on our Sri Lanka Map

Kovil Colombo Sri Lanka
Hindu fingure
Hindu beast
HIndu altar
Kovil visitor
Lighting oil lamps at a kovil
Hindu boy Sir Lanka
Little boy at hindu temple
Oil lamps Sri Lanka
Sri Subramaniya Kovil bells
Holy Kovil
Temple master Sri Subramaniya Kovil

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Molly

    Oh my goodness – this is so cool!!! Your post has inspired me so much. That’s it, I’m definitely going to find myself in Sri Lanka someday soon!!!I just came across your blog and I’m sure glad I did! Keep doing what you’re doing, guys! It’s a beautiful blog.All the best,Molly

    1. Juergen

      Thank you Molly, we only have been here a little over a week and we give two thumbs up! Totally recommend this island! It’s a paradise!

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