1000 Year Old Hindu Temple in Sri Lanka – Built by Indian King


Hey guys, I am in the city of Polonnaruwa in Sri Lanka, and this place is full of ancient Buddhist ruins. But among these amazing Buddhist structures, we also have some Hindu Temples. Here in this isolated area, we have a very ancient Hindu Temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva. It was built around 993 A.D which is about a thousand years ago. Who built this temple? We are lucky because we have inscriptions on the temple walls, in ancient Tamil language naming it as “Vanavanmadevi Ishwaram”. Vanavanmadevi was the mother of the Great King RajaRaja Chola, so it was most probably built by him.

As you can see, this is not a large temple, it is a very small temple. These arches originally contained idols of Gods, and they have been stolen or destroyed. The temple has been constructed by placing one granite block on top of another. And at a distance, we can see the  bull, the mount of Lord Shiva. Let us go inside the temple, and see what’s in the main chamber. It has been locked, but if we peep through this hole, we can see the long cylindrical lingam on a flat, grooved base. This is typically what you will find in all Chola Temples.

So, why did Raja Raja, a Tamil King who was living in South India, cross the ocean, come deep into Sri Lanka and install this Hindu Temple? RajaRaja invaded Sri Lanka in 993 A.D, captured half of Sri Lanka, and made this City, his Capital in Sri Lanka. This city, known as Polonnaruwa was renamed as Jananathamangalam. He was a very tolerant King, you can see that he did not destroy these Buddhist structures. He did not even build Hindu temples among the Buddhist shrines, he built them far away from Buddhist monuments. Yes, I said temples because the Chola Kings built several Hindu temples in this area.

Now, let us take a look at another Shiva Temple nearby. It is completely in ruins. It is also said to be built by King RajaRaja, in remembrance of his Father. Almost a similar looking temple, but is bigger than the other one. Inside the main chamber, there is a lingam which has been completely destroyed. Some locals believe that this temple was destroyed by Buddhists in 13th century, but Buddhism is generally a peaceful religion and there is no actual evidence to show it was destroyed by Buddhists. So, you can see how Hindu temples were built outside India, at least a thousand years ago. The entire South East Asian countries are full of ancient Hindu Temples, all built by the Great Chola Kings.

Praveen Mohan


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