Visiting Sri Ponnambalam Vanesar Kovil, My Favourite Hindu Temple in Colombo
It was like walking into a temple from Raiders of the Lost Ark, or Lara Croft Tomb Raider, except this temple was not covered in squishy green moss
A granite Hindu temple. It sounded cool when my tuk tuk driver mentioned it to me, but I didn’t realize just how cool it was until I was standing in front of it. It was like walking into a temple from Raiders of the Lost Ark, or Lara Croft Tomb Raider, except this temple was not covered in squishy green moss, or surrounded by ancient trees, it’s not in the middle of nowhere, it’s in the heart of Colombo.
The outside of the temple was grey granite, and lined with vibrant green palms, and plants. The contrast between the vermillion greens, with a hint of lemon yellow, was not lost on me. I love stark contrasts – which should probably be my personal motto. If I had been at the temple by myself, I probably would have sat on the warm ground outside, and stared at the building. I was captivated. But, I wasn’t there on my own, I had a tuk tuk driver, who had an internal schedule that I was unaware of at the time.
I followed my tuk tuk driver towards the door, dipping our bare feet in the water in front of the threshold to the temple. As we step over the threshold (never step on a temple threshold), and into the temple, my mind cleared, and my eyes danced with delight. The inside of the temple was all grey granite, just like the outside. The walls, the floor, the ceiling. The only splash of colour was the vibrant oranges, reds, and yellows of garlands, which were hanging on various idols throughout the temple.
At first I was disappointed that I couldn’t take photos inside. I don’t want a lot, just a few, so I can show you how beautiful this place is, but it’s not allowed, so I move on. Within a few minutes I am focused solely on the temple itself, committing it to memory.
The temple is one large rectangle, and we follow a wide path around the inside of the temple. There are pillars in the corners of the temple, doric, with exquisite figures that look as though they are trying to break free from the granite, which holds them in place. There are small streams of light, which pour into the temple from small windows.
There are a few worshippers within the temple, and as we walk around, I stop to watch as they pay homage to their gods. I’m not Hindu, but it doesn’t mean that I cannot appreciate, or respect their beliefs. This is their sacred place, and as I walk around, I remind myself of that. I think of the love, and dedication they put into building this temple.
The temple is not large, and it doesn’t take long for us to walk around. I really want to stay inside, where it’s cool, and peaceful. This may be a religious place for Hindus, but for me it has been a peaceful place, where I can avoid the heat, and ‘in your face’ mentality of Colombo.
It’s been a couple days since my visit to Sri Ponnambalam Vanesar Kovil but I remember it as though I was there no more than an hour ago. If you’re planning a trip to Sri Lanka, stay in Colombo for a few days, and make sure this temple is on your ‘Must See’ list. I guarantee you will not be disappointed!