Nainativu Nagapoosani Amman Temple Sri Lanka Full Details

Nainativu Nagapoosani Amman Temple Sri Lanka Full Details


  • Locality/village :- Nainativu
  • State :- Northern province
  • Country :- Sri Lanka
  • Nearest City/Town :- Jaffna
  • Best Season To Visit :- All
  • Languages :- Tamil & English
  • Temple Timings : -6:00 AM to 6:00 PM
  • Photography :- Not Allowed.

Nainativu Nagapoosani Amman Temple Sri Lanka Full Details

Nainativu Nagapoosani Amman Temple

Nainativu Nagapoosani Amman Temple is an ancient and historic Hindu temple located 36 km from the ancient capital of the Jaffna kingdom, Nallur, Sri Lanka. It is dedicated to Parvati who is known as Nagapooshani or Bhuvaneswari and her consort, Shiva who is named here as Rakshaseshwar (Nayanair).

It is believed to be the place where the silambu (anklets) of Gauri had fallen. Anklets have been given immense importance in the worship of Shakti since time and memorial. This ornament is also referred to in the famous Tamil epic Silapathikaram – where the story begins and ends with an anklet.

Bhuvaneshwari means the Queen or ruler of the Universe. She is the Divine Mother as the Queen of all the worlds. The entire Universe is her body and all beings are ornaments on her infinite being. She carries all the worlds as a flowering of her own Self-nature. She is thus related to Sundari and to Rajarajeshwari, the supreme Lady of the Universe.

In Hinduism, Bhuvaneshvari is the fourth of the ten Mahavidya goddesses and an aspect of Devi, as elements of the physical cosmos, in giving shape to the creation of the World”. Also Bhuvaneswari is considered as the supreme goddesses who creates everything and destroys all the unnecessary evils of world. She is also considered as the Mother goddess of Kali, Lakshmi, and Saraswati also Gayatri. In Hindu Mythology she is considered as the most powerful goddess in the universe. Parvati is Sagun Roop of Goddess Bhuvaneswari. Her bija mantra is “Hreem.”

She is also known as Adi Shakti i.e. one of the earliest forms of Shakti. She is capable of turning situations according to her wish. It is considered that even the navagrahas and trimurtis cannot stop her from doing anything. She can order the Trimurtis to do anything she wants.

Nainativu Nagapoosani Amman Temple History

The Nainativu Nagapoosani Amman Temple is believed to be originally established by Lord Indra while seeking alleviation from the curse of Gautama Maharishi. The Sanskrit epic Mahabharata records that Lord Indra was overcome by his sexual desires for Ahalya, the wife of Gautama Maharishi. Indra disguised himself as the saint and proceeded to seduce and make love to Ahalya. When the saint came to know, he cursed Indra to have a thousand marks resembling the yoni (female reproductive organ) all over his body. Indra was ridiculed and referred to as Sa-yoni. Unable to face the humiliation, he went into exile to the island of Manidweepa (Nainativu). There, he is believed to have created, consecrated and worshiped the moolasthana murti of the Goddess to atone for his sins. The Queen of the Universe, Bhuvaneswari Amman, satisfied with Indra’s utmost devotion, repentance and remorse appeared before him and transformed they yonis on his body into eyes. She then took on the name of “Indrakshi” (Indra Eyed).

Another legend states that, many centuries later, a cobra (Nagam) was swimming across the sea towards Nainativu from the nearby island of Puliyantivu with a lotus flower in its mouth, for the worship of Bhuvaneswari Amman (who had already been consecrated by Indra). An eagle (Garuda) spotted the cobra and attempted to attack it and kill it. Fearing harm from the eagle, the cobra wound itself around a rock (referred to in Tamil as; Paambu Sutriya Kal “the Rock around which the Snake wound itself”) in the sea about half a kilometer from the Nainativu coast, and the eagle stood on another rock (Garudan Kal “the Rock of the Eagle”) some distance away. A merchant by the name of Maanikan from the Chola kingdom; who was himself a devotee of Sri Bhuvaneswari Amman, was sailing across the Palk Strait to trade with the ancient Naka Nadu noticed the eagle and the cobra perched upon said rocks. He pleaded with the eagle to let the cobra go on its way without any harm. The eagle agreed with one condition that the merchant should construct a beautiful temple for Sri Bhuvaneswari Amman on the island of Nainativu and that he shall propagate her worship in the form of Sri Nagapooshani Amman for universal peace, prosperity and humanity. He agreed and built a beautiful temple accordingly. The eagle took three dips into the ocean to atone for its sins against the Nagas in the Mahabharata, and hence, the Garuda and Naga resolved their longstanding feuds.

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Nainativu Nagapoosani Amman Temple Architecture/ Structures

The Nainativu Nagapoosani Amman Temple complex houses four gopurams (gateway towers) ranging from 20–25 feet in height, to the tallest being the eastern Raja Raja Gopuram soaring at 108 feet high. The temple is a significant symbol for the Tamil people, and has been mentioned since antiquity in Tamil literature, such as Manimekalai and Kundalakesi. There is an estimated 10,000 sculptures in this newly renovated temple.

Sanctum Sanctorum

The moolasthanam or garbhagriha (“womb chamber”, central shrine) of Nagapoosani Amman and her consort Nayinaar Swami are in traditional Dravidian Hindu architecture. The inner wall of the temple together with the outer wall of the central shrine create a pradakshina (path) around the garbhagriha. The entrance is extensively decorated with paintings, sculptures and oil lamps. Over the garbhagriha is a 10 feet high vimana (tower). The garbhagriha has two entrances – the main entrance facing East, from which the Moolamurtis (consecrated deities) can be viewed and one facing South, from which the Utsavamurtis (festival deities) can be viewed. A unique feature of the Nainativu Nagapoosani Amman Temple is that Nayinaar Swami and Nagapoosani Amman are installed together as if they are one; granting darshanam to devotees as Shiva-Shatki (the primeval energies of the cosmos).


Nainativu Nagapoosani Amman Temple has four decorative and colourful gopurams.

Raja Raja Gopuram

The Raja Raja Gopuram is the largest of the three gopurams that adorn this temple. The largest of its kind in Sri Lanka, it soars to the height of 108 feet and appears to scrape the clouds. It has over 2000 intricately sculpted and painted figures on all four sides. It has 9 passages and 9 golden kalasams. From a distance it appears to crown the much older East Gopuram, and hence it adequately deserves the name of “Raja Raja Gopuram” (“king of kings tower”). It was constructed from 2010 – 2012 with the efforts of artists from Tamil Nadu, India. Mahakumbhabhishekam (great temple revival ceremony) was held in late January 2012. This event was attended by 200,000 devotees from various cities and towns as far as India, Europe, Australia, and North America.

East Gopuram

East Gopuram is the oldest of the three gopurams on the modern day structure. As the name implies it opens facing the rising sun across the sea in the East. It rises to the height of 54 feet from the base. This gopuram originally had the fewest number of sculptures. During the renovation period, a number of new sculptures seem to have been added and painted in brighter colours to match the newly constructed Raja Raja Gopuram. Upon entering this gopuram, one directly faces the Moolamurtis (consecrated deities).

South Gopuram

The South Gopuram at the Nainativu Nagapoosani Amman Temple is a fairly new structure built in the early 1970s. As the name implies it opens facing south. It rises to the height of 54 feet from the base. During the renovation period, sculptures on this gopuram were also painted in brighter colours to match the newly constructed Raja Raja Gopuram. Upon entering this gopuram, one directly faces the Utsavamurtis (festival deities).

South East Gopuram

The South East Gopuram is a new addition to the temple. Although this gopuram is in the South-East corner of the temple complex, it also faces south. Built in December 2011, its primary purpose is to welcome those coming from within the island to worship the Goddess, and visitors from the nearby Naga Vihara (Buddhist Temple). It reaches the height of about 20–25 feet. It is the smallest gopuram and has the fewest number of sculptures. It was also painted in bright and vibrant colours to match the other gopurams.


Vasantha Mandapam

This mandapam in the Nainativu Nagapoosani Amman Temple is used for special poojas during festivals and fasting days to house to Utsavamurtis (festival deities). It is grand in manner. It can directly be viewed from outside through a newly constructed archway on the Southern wall of the temple.

Vahana Mandapam

This mandapam houses the various vehicles the Utsavamurtis (processional deities) are seated upon during temple festivals. It is located on the North wall of the temple. It houses nearly 50 different vehicles. The most impressive being Ravana-Kailasa Vahanam. This vehicle depicts the demonized King of Lanka and ardent devotee of Lord Shiva; Ravana lifting Mount Kailasa while peacefully playing a makeshift veena created from one of his heads and arms by plucking the veins and arteries to sooth Lord Rakshaseshwara (who is the Lord of the Rakshas (of which Ravana is one), Sri Kailasa-Naayinaar Swami). It is believed that Ravana resides within this vehicle and hence it always attracts thousands of devotees when in use. It has become an indisputable icon of this temple due to the myths that surround the visit of Ravana to the island to offer poojas to Lord Rakshaseshwara (who is the Lord of the Rakshas, Sri Kailasa-Naayinaar Swami).

Kalayana Mandapam

This mandapam is used for conducting marriage ceremonies. It is located on the Northern premises of the Nainativu Nagapoosani Amman Temple.

Annapoorneshwari Annadhana Mandapam

This mandapam is used for the distribution of free food during festivals and social events. It is located on the Northern premises, nearby the Kalayana Mandapam. Oftentimes this venue is used to serve wedding feasts after wedding ceremonies which are held at the Kalayana Mandapam. It houses Annapoorneshwari Amman, the Hindu Goddess of nourishment, however regular poojas are not offered here.

Amuthasurabi Annadhana Mandapam

This mandapam is used for the distribution of free food every day to all those who visit the temple. It is located 2 mins walk from the Southern premises of the temple property. This mandapam serves to validate the values that are mentioned in the ancient Tamil epic of Manimekalai. The epic is set in both the harbour town of Kaveripattinam, the modern town of Puhar in Tamil Nadu, and in Nainativu, a small sandy island of the Jaffna Peninsula. The story follows the following plot: The dancer-courtesan Manimekalai is pursued by the amorous Cholan prince Udyakumaran, but rather wants to dedicate herself to a religious celibate life. The sea goddess Manimekala Theivam (Manimekalai Devi) puts her to sleep and takes her to the island Manipallavam (Nainathivu). After waking up and wandering about the island Manimekalai comes across the Dharma-seat, which was placed there by Lord Indra, on which Buddha had taught and appeased two warring Naga princes. Those who worship it miraculously know their previous life. Manimekalai automatically worshiped it and recollects what has happened in her previous life. She then meets the guardian goddess of the Dharma seat, Deeva-Teelakai (Dvipa Tilaka) who explains her the significance of the Dharma seat and lets her acquire the magic never-failing begging bowl (cornucopia) called Amurta Surabhi (”cow of abundance”), which will always provide food to alleviate hunger. As such, devotees and visitors are welcomed to enjoy a traditional meal after visiting the Nainativu Nagapoosani Amman Temple.

Sri Bhuvaneswari Kalai Aranga Mandapam

This mandapam is used for various performances in dance, music and art. It was recently renovated and repainted in 2011 to suit the design of the newly constructed Raja Raja Gopuram. Common performances in this mandapam include bharatanatyam, mridangam, nadaswaram and sankeerthanam.

Ambala Veedhi

This is the outside of the temple structure and forms the outer pradakshina (path) around the temple.


According to the puranas, Nandi was born out of the right side of Vishnu resembling Shiva exactly and given as a son to the Sage Salankayana. Some others state that Nandi was given to Sage Silada by the grace of Shiva. Nandi plays an important role in Shivaism.

In one puranic story, it is stated that once Shiva and Parvati were playing a game of dice. For any game there has to be an umpire, who has to declare who is the winner. Shiva and Parvati agreed to have Nandi (the divine bull) as the umpire. Nandi is a favorite of Shiva, as he is Shiva’s vehicle. Although Shiva lost the game, Nandi declared him the winner. It is stated that Parvati was indignant over Nandi’s partiality for Shiva and cursed him that he should die from an incurable disease. Thereupon Nandi fell at the feet of Parvati and pleaded for forgiveness. “Mother forgive me. Should I not show at least this amount of gratitude to one who is my master? Is it not humiliating for me to declare that my master has lost the game? To uphold his honor I no doubt uttered a lie. But am I to be punished with such severity for so small an offence?” Nandi prayed for forgiveness in this manner. Parvati forgave Nandi and taught him the means to atone for his lapse. She told him, “The Chaturdasi day in the month of Purattaasi; Tamil: September – October (Bhadrapada; Sanskrit: August – September) is the day when my son’s birthday is celebrated. On that day you must to offer to my son what pleases you the most”. For Nandi the most enjoyable and relishing food is green grass. As directed by Parvati Nandi worshipped Ganapathi by offering green grass. Nandi was then relieved of his dreaded disease. His health improved and by the grace of Parvati he was redeemed.

Nandi is now universally accepted to be the most common mount of Lord Shiva and the gatekeeper of Shiva and Parvati. This close association of Shiva, Parvati and Nandi explains the presence of a statue of Nandi at the gateway of the temple. This statue is approximately 8 feet high and faces the Moolamurtis directly through the East Gopuram. It is undoubtedly the only large sized Nandi of its kind in Sri Lanka.


The temple administration removed the silver plated dwajasthambam (“kodi maram”; flag post) in late 2011 to allow for renovations to the temple. It is expected that a new brass plated dwajasthambam will be installed before June 2012 to replace the one that had been removed. Currently the temple does not have a substitute.

Temple Chariots

The Nainativu Nagapoosani Amman Temple chariot is, perhaps, the most beautiful and exquisitely sculpted example of a temple chariot in all of Tamilakam. This chariot is used to carry the Utsavamurtis (processional deities). The chariot is usually used only once a year for the festival Ratholsavam (Tamil: Ther Thiruvizha, “chariot festival”), which is drawn by several thousand devotees around the outer pradakshina (path) of the temple. It reaches the height of 35 feet and is covered with various sculptures depicting the history of the temple. Two other slightly smaller (30 feet) chariots for Sri Ganapathi Swami and Sri Valli Devayani Sametha Subramanya Swami always accompany the main chariot. The main chariot is unique and has become an iconic figure of this temple. It is one of the largest chariots in Sri Lanka.

Temple Tanks at the Nainativu Nagapoosani Amman Temple

Kailasa-roopa Pushkarini

This temple tank is located on the Southern premises of the temple. It was recently renovated in 2011 and has a 15 feet high sculpture of Sri Nagapooshani Amman embracing Sri Kailasa-Naayinaar Swami atop the famous Ravana-Kailasa Vahanam. A unique feature about this sculpture is that the cobras with their open hoods, spit water resembling a fountain. Since the renovation, visitors are prohibited from entering its waters.

Amrutha Gangadharani Theertham

This temple tank is located approximately 1 km from the temple on the western shore of the island of Nainativu. It was built by Muthukumara Swamiyar (a resident saint of Nainativu) in the early 1940s. It is nearby the Nainai Siva-Gangai Temple and is accessed by flights of stone steps leading from the small stone shrine.

The original temple was looted and destroyed by the Portuguese in 1620 CE. The modern day structure was restored and re-established in 1788. The temple was later attacked, burnt, and sustained severely damaged, in June 1958, and in March 1986 by the Sri Lankan armed forces. The Nagadweepa Buddhist Vihara which is a few meters away from the temple was established in the 1940s by a resident monk with the help of local Tamils.

Nainativu Nagapoosani Amman Temple Festivals / Special Rituals

The most important festival associated with the Nainativu Nagapoosani Amman Temple is the 16-day-long Mahostavam (Thiruvizha) that is celebrated in annually in the Tamil month of Aani (June/July). During this period, there are a number of events including the Swarna Ratholsavam (“Manja Thiruvizha”; golden chariot festival), Ratholsavam (“Ther Thiruvizha”; chariot festival) and Poongavanam (“Theppa Thiruvizha”; float festival).

Major Hindu festivals like Navratri and Shivratri attract thousands of devotees. Like most Shakti temples in Tamilakam, the Fridays during the Tamil months of Aadi (July–August) and Thai (January – February) are given special importance at this temple. Aadi Pooram, the day Parvati is said to have attained puberty, and become a mother to all her devotees is marked in grand manner at this temple.

Special Rituals at the Nainativu Nagapoosani Amman Temple

There are close to 15 priests in the temple who perform the pooja (rituals) during festivals and on a daily basis. Like all other Shiva temples of Tamilakam, the priests belong to the Shivaite Adishaivas, a Brahmin sub-caste. The priests live in a closed area North-East of the temple. The temple has a six-time pooja schedule every day, each comprising four rituals namely abhisheka (sacred bath), alangaram (decoration), naivedyam (food offering) and deepa aradanai (waving of lamps) for both Sri Nagapooshani (Bhuvaneswari) Amman and Sri Nayinaar Swami. The pooja (worship) ceremonies are held amidst music with nadaswaram (pipe instrument) and tavil (percussion instrument), religious instructions in the Vedas by priests and prostration by worshippers in front of the temple mast. The temple street plans form a giant mandala (holy circle pattern) whose sacred properties are believed to be activated during the mass clockwise circumambulations of the central temple.

Nainativu Nagapoosani Amman Temple Pooja Daily Schedule

Temple remains open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Nainativu Nagapoosani Amman Temple Travel

Devotees can take any local bus heading to Kurikaadduvaan from Jaffna (Route 776), and then they have to take a short ferry to Nainativu Island. The bus trip from Jaffna to Kurikadduvan would take approximately one hour. The last ferry to Nainativu for the day would leave usually at 6:00 p.m. from the Kurikadduvan jetty. If you are planning to return to the city of Jaffna on the same day, you should start early in the morning from Jaffna, and make sure you are at the Kurikadduvan jetty (or pier) by 10:00 a.m., the latest. For those who would want to participate in the noon poojas (prayers) of the Nagapooshani Amman Temple, would be advised to be at the Kurikadduvan jetty before 9:00 a.m., as there could be a long delay sometimes due to overcrowding. The ferry to Nainativu would take about 15 minutes. On approaching Nainativu, your boat may, first proceed to a jetty opposite the Buddhist temple if there are any Buddhist pilgrims. Pilgrims to the Buddhist temple would get off the boat at that jetty. Thereafter, your ferry would proceed to the jetty opposite the Nagapooshani Amman Kovil which would be the final destination for the launch, and the remaining passengers on your launch would get off there.

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