Sivan Kovil (Kotahena).

The Sri Ponnambalawaneswaram Kovil (or the Sivan Kovil) is situated just a few metres away from the St. Anthony's Church. It's easy to find thanks to its white walls and the occasional sound of the brass bell piercing the air. It's been around since 1905, and it's a go-to place of worship for many practicing Tamils and Hindus alike. 

The Kovil

The large structure you see today was constructed in 1915 by Sir Ponnambalam Ramanathan after his father entrusted him with its administration in 1905. The entire Kovil is constructed out of solid granite and makes for a superb sight.

As you go in through the entrance you are required to leave your shoes in this little hut by the gate. The rest of the way has to be walked barefoot as it is customary to take your shoes off in most religious places as a sign of respect. 
Devotees are all over the place, either bowing in respect or engaged in prayer. You'll see a plethora of different shrines and statues dedicated to different deities each with a different cause. It gets busy from 10AM – 12PM because of the Puja that is orchestrated and dozens of people milling about.


There is a certain way of entering a Kovil – for example, you cannot set foot on the elevated step through the doors, but rather step over them. 
Once you walk through the massive wooden doors, you are greeted by the sound of bells and beautiful synchronised chanting. The inside is dark and only illuminated by the flickering flames on the little deepams (little oil lamps) and the light filtering through the roof.

The stone pillars and walls are full of intricate carved decorations along with religiously significant symbols. 
Since it's been erected out of solid granite, the sounds echo through the walls and makes it feel like you're standing in some ancient cavern host to forgotten magic. It's all very eerie and truly magnificent.

There were different rituals being conducted at the time, so most of the priests weren't available to speak to. We were told that they wouldn't mind answering any questions after the rituals but alas, it was 12 PM already and the Kovil closes its doors until 3 PM.
Do ring the little bells at the foot of the doors before you leave; doing so brings good luck.


Outside is a mix of monochrome grey architecture, traditional shrines, and specks of colour from the bright garments worn to the Kovil. At the back entrance you'll find a little barn where they keep the cows. The cows are really friendly so have at it if you want to pet them. There's a bull as well but I wouldn't recommend petting him.


If you'd like, there's tons of little shops outside where you can buy a few flowers before you enter. Donations aren't expected, but if you still wish to donate, there's a small counter which holds a donation box inside the Kovil premises. Ask one of the priests, or the security guard.

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