The Pancha (Five) Ishwarams of Eelam
There were temples, dedicated to the Supreme Lord Ishwaran, on all the four sides, of ancient Ceylon. They safeguarded the little island from oceanic bed upheavals, convulsions and other natural disasters that prevailed in the region during the pre-historical eras. They were Thiruketheeshwaram and Muneshwaram Temples in the West, Thondeshwaram in the South, Koneshwaram in the East and Naguleshwaram in the North.
These five celebrated Ishwarams or Pancha Ishwaram Temples were important landmarks of the country and had India’s adoration. The erudite scholar and historian, Dr.Paul E.Pieris declared in 1917, at a meeting of the Royal Asiatic Society (Ceylon Branch), that:
“Long before the arrival of Vijaya there was in Lanka five recognised Ishwarams of Shiva which claimed and received adoration of all India. These were Thiruketheeshwaram which was near Mahatittha, Muneshwaram dominating Salawatte and the pearl fishery, Thondeshwaram near Mantota, ThiruKoneshwaram near the great Bay of Kottiyar and Naguleshwaram near Kankesanturai ” .
How each of these five Pancha Ishwaram Temples survived the ravages of time and destruction by foreign invaders, is the subject of narration in the following pages.
Thiruketheeshwaram, near Mannar, is the Sthalam where thousands gather on Shivarathri night for veneration of Lord Shiva. They perform their sin dispelling ablutionary theertham baths in the sacred waters of Pal Theertham, the following morning.
The location became hallowed from the mythological era for it was here that Kethu Bhagavan performed thapas and obtained the benign vision of Lord Parameswara and Ambaldevi; hence the site became known as “Thiru-Kethu-lshwaram”.
Agasthiya Maha Munivar
It is said that the Sage Agasthiya Maha Munivar, in his pilgrimage to Shiva Sthalams in the South, paid homage at Thiruketheeshwaram also, before proceeding to Dakshana Kailash (Koneshwaram).
Matotta a great Sea Port
Matotta (or Matoddam), the celebrated city that Maha Thuwadda pounded became a great Sea Port and marketing centre of world renown. Babylonians. Egyptians,Greeks, Chinese and Japanese bartered their goods at Matotta. Thiruketheeshwaram Temple received much support. The Pallava era, which created a magnificent temple at Koneshwaram, created an upsurge of Hinduism in the country, from about the 5th century. It was then that Saint Thirugnana Sampanthar and later Saint Suntharar each offered a Pathikam of Thevaram verses to the Lord of Thiruketheeshwaram. These are precious verses that are recited by every Hindu, almost daily.
The Chola Power ruled over entire Ceylon for 72 years in the 10th century; their activities were mostly at Polonnaruwa, their capital city and in the Trincomalee Region. A temple with the name of Veera Rameswaram was erected here during the regime of Sundara Pandiyan, in the 13th century.
The Decline of Mathoddam
With the silting up of the Gulf of Mannar by Manal Aar (Malwattu Oya), and the discovery of the Mariner’s Compass which made navigation in mid-ocean possible, the fortunes of Matoddam as a sea port declined (and was never regained). Finally, with the advent of the Portuguese in Mannar and the consequent warfare, all Pujas terminated at Thiruketheeshwaram Temple in 1589. The Portuguese Governor was seen supervising the transport of the temple stones for building the Mannar Fort.
Rebuilding temple at Thiruketheeshwaram
After a lapse of over four hundred years, Arumuga Navalar, who urged the people to rebuild the temple, revived the subject. An effort was made during the early years of the century and a small shrine was built in 1910. With the restoration of the ancient Palavi Theertham in 1949, a major effort was made and a proper temple was completed in 1976.
Theertha Kavady is a special ritual here. To be permitted to perform Linga Abishekam himself is the greatest aspiration of any pious Hindu. This is possible only in Kasi and Thiruketheeshwaram. It is not simply taking water from Palavi and pouring over the Maha Lingam. It is performed with devotion and in keeping with the seven requirements laid down, saying “Let us all gather to anoint Him who had been distressed and in that process wash our sins away”.
Effects of the Ethnic conflict
The Sri Lankan Army occupied the temple premises for a time but vacated it later, when protests were made. All the buildings and the madams in the temple area are said to have been demolished and the stones removed. Only the temple building is said to survive, but without any fittings. (but see also the desecration of the Thiruketheeshwaram temple by the Sri Lanka armed forces)
Muneshwaram [see also Munnicuvaram (Munnesvaram) Kovil: Its History, Ceremonies and Layout – Professor A. Velupillai, 1995]
Muneshwaram Temple is situated about a mile East of Chilaw, a town about 50 miles North of Colombo. This Munna Nathar Shetram, housing Munnai Natharsametha Vadivambikai Ambal, is of very ancient origin, said to have been founded by Brahms for worship by Himself Vishnu Mahendran, Munivars, sages and seers (Dakshana Kailasa Puranam ). The name Muneshwaram is suggestive of it being an “Eshwaram” or Shivan Temple of the Munivars; as mythology would have it, it is said to have been venerated by Rishi Munivars in the ancient eras. Some claim a foremost place for it because of its name with “Mun” in front.
Rama Bhagavans sojourn
Sri Rama Bhagavan found solace here when he was returning home after the Ramayana episode, with a heavy conscience thinking of the many deaths in the battle.
Here he experienced relief from the “Brahma Sakthy” that had worried him; so he, accompanied by Sita Devi stopped here and performed puias and other observances.
It is also one of the temples renovated by Prince Vijaya (483-445 B.C.) after being crowned King of Lanka, for the well being of his subjects. It was improved and maintained by the Cholas during their occupation of the Island.
The temple was well endowed and gifted with several villages and paddy lands. The reputed wealth of the temple attracted the greed of the Portuguese invaders who looted it and finally destroyed it in 1578.
However, about 200 years later a fisherman’s hook got entangled in something heavy. To his amazement he found that it was a Devi Vigrakam. He handed it over to a Brahmin priest, who cherished it performing pujas daily, but in secret. However, it soon leaked out that the priest was in possession of what was ill begotten and was taken to court. To testify that his story was genuine he was ordered to identify this vigrakam, in Court, from among several similar others. The humble priest was thoroughly scared.
He feared imprisonment, if he failed. He entrusted himself entirely to the Grace of Ambal Devi and invoked her succour. That night, Devi told him, in a revelation, not to be afraid, but to watch carefully for her Nod as he walked past her in the identification parade. Elated thus with Devi’s Grace, the priest braved the assembly the following day. At the parade, passing others, when he came near his Ambal Vigrakam, a flower crowning that Vigrakam dropped at his feet. Realising that it was the “Nod” he awaited, he selected the correct Vigrakam. The priest was discharged and was also entrusted with his Ambal Vigrakam. There was much rejoicing in the village; everyone spoke of Vadivambikai Ambal’s Grace aiding the priest. It was a miracle. The Devi Vigrakam was taken in procession, and handed over to be installed at a prominent place in the temple.
The temple was restored for worship in 1753. Later it was renovated in 1875, by efforts made by Brahma Sri Cumaraswamy Kurukkal; it was improved in 1919 and further in 1963 with support of Hindus, all over Ceylon. It was renovated recently and a Gopuram was also constructed.
Around the Temple
The Shiva Lingam presides majestically in the sanctum. In the Maha Mandapam is found Devi, here presiding as Vadivambikai Ambal and facing South. Also facing South is the ad joining, less elaborate shrine for Sundara Nadarajah Murthi. A small shrine for Sanmuga Swami is found next to it. The Pidshanda vigrakam found at Muneshwaram temple is of striking interest and is over five feet in height, almost human in size. It depicts a handsomely built figure going out on a hunting expedition or returning therefrom, carefree and accompanied by a dog and carrying the spoils of his expedition. This vigrakam is taken out in procession, on a particular day of the Annual Mahotsava festivals. The portrait of the Grand Old Man of Muneshwaram, Brahma Sri Cumaraswamy Kurukkal, is seen on the centre pillar.
In the Western Praharam is the Lingotpava Murthi. Lord Shiva is seen emerging from a Shiva Lingam to the consternation of Lord Brahma and Maha Vishnu, who are seen standing aghast, at the bottom. This assembly depicts a Puranic episode when Brahma and Vishnu were unable to locate the top and bottom of a column of light that was Shiva.
The annual festival at this temple lasts for twenty-seven days terminating with the watercutting ceremony, on the full moon day in the month of Avany (August-September), in Mayevan Aru (Deduru Oya). The pooias conducted here are Navarathri Pu ja and Ledcha Arichanai.
Viyasa Maha Munivar at Muneshwaram
A unique feature at Muneshwaram is Pidshanda Murthy. an unusual pose of Lord Shiva. The story as narrated by Viyasa Maha Munivar. is that Lord Shiva, in order to win round by humiliation some erring rishi disciples, asked Maha Vishnu to assume the form of Mohini and tease them. He also did likewise assuming the form of Pidshanda, a handsome vagrant huntsman. When the truth became known. the pupils realised their folly and repented. They were forgiven and normal life of the hermitage was reestablished.
To Mohini a son was born named “Hari Hara Puthiran”. Hari Haran is said to have taken residence permanently at Siddha Madu for the benefit of his devotees. He is venerated there even today. Mohini was given the boon to meander. in the form of a river, encircling the Shetram and embracing the seat of her off spring Hari Haran. From that day the river of the locality was named “Mayevan Aru”, commemorating the advent of Lord Vishnu.
It is now known as Deduru Oya. The Siddha Madu sylvan shrine has also assumed another name.
Thondeshwaram [see also Tondeswaram near Mantota]
The original name may possibly have been “Thondar – Ishwaram” which became Thondeshwaram; the foreign invaders corrupted it to “Thondra” or Dondra. During the British era these were “Dondra” and “Dondra Head”, the 8 southernmost promontory of the Island. Now the locality is known as “Devinuwara”. A lighthouse has been erected there as the location has, through the ages, been a guide to navigation.
Apart from very limited information, not much is known about the Ishwaram Temple here, unlike the other Pancha Ishwaram temples. It is very likely the “Ishwaram” Shivan Temple went out of function early; in such an event, the local folks would have, however, “kept going” for their veneration, the Vishnu section of the Ishwaram Temple complex. The bell, pillars and other ruins there today may therefore be those of the last Vishnu temple erected there.
The Five ancient Ishwaram Temples
In this connection. it is relevant to quote, once again, the oft-quoted declaration made by that erudite scholar and Historian Dr.Paul E.Pieris, before the Royal Asiatic Society in 1917:
“Long before the arrival of vi Maya there was in Lanka five recognised Ishwarams of Shiva which claimed and received adoration of all India. These were Thiruketheeshwaram which was near Mahatittha, Muneshwaram dominating Salawatte and the pearl fishery, Thondeshwaram near Mantota, Thirukoneshwaram near the great Bay of Kottiyar and Naguleshwaram near Kankesanturai”.
Chandra Mauleswara Murthi
A map drawn by early Greek cartographers. found in a library reveal the existence of an Ishwaran Temple here, the towers of which were a guide to navigators. In that temple the principal deity was known as “Chandra Maul Eshwaran”. on the forehead of the deity was a large precious stone shaped like a crescent.
The 17th century Temple
Portuguese writers refer to a temple here that their army entered and destroyed. It is said that the temple top (probably the Vimanam) was overlaid with golden plates, which reflected the sun, aiding navigators.
To spite the protests of sacrilege by the Brahmin Priests, it is said that the army slaughtered a cow on the top of the main deity of the temple; mention is also made of the 108 devadasis forming part of the temple staff.
All this indicates beyond any doubt the existence at the site of a well-established and functional temple, during the 17th century.
Recent (1998) revelation of a Shiva Linga Hindu Deity, in the South of Sri Lanka.
The following news item appeared in the London popular weekly Journal “Newslanka”, of 5th November 1998:
Thondeshwaram Nandi unearthed in Nov 1998 at Dondrahead “Shiva Linga” found at Devinuwara A sculptured ‘Shiva Linga’ was found in the foreground of t Othpilima Vihara in the historical Vichithrama Viharaya in Devinuwara.
“A person who was weeding the temple garden traced the sculpture. The ‘Shiva Linga’ is 4 ft in height and 2 1/2 feet in width. At an earlier occasion too a similar sculpture was found at the same premises. It is believed that these findings give a clue as to existence of a ‘Shiva Devalas at the premises in the past.”
As Hindu Temples have not been known to have functioned in that region in recent years, the unearthed Shiva Linga Murthi may obviously be a deity from one of the Thondeshwaram Temples. As the Lingam is said to be comparatively large in size, it could even be the principal Murthi of the ancient temple.
What have been unearthed are extremely interesting. The “avudaiyar” or the pedestal of the Shiva Lingam appears to be a thin slab; the upright or vertical portion is tall and slender. The “Nandhi” Ishapam appears to be of coarse finish, showing lack of suitable implements. These can therefore said to be of very ancient origin, probably of about the Pallava era.
If this Shiva Linga Moorthy, now unearthed, was indeed from the ancient Thondeshwaram Temples then the event is a revelation, a major revelation! Shruthi Laya Shangham of Great Britain has managed to acquire the photograph of this lingam and is the first institute to publish it in 500 years.
Thiru Koneshwaram, the “Dakshana Kailash” of the ancients, “The Great Pagoda” or “The Pagoda with a thousand Pillars” of the Portuguese or simply Swami Rock” during the British regime, is the most ancient place of Hindu veneration in Ceylon. It has very interesting history behind it.
The Great Deluge (“Piralayam” in Tamil) Koneshwaram Shrine
During the very early legendary eras, geologists refer to oceanic bed upheavals or geophysical convulsion (Piralayam in Tamil), which are said to have engulfed parts of Kumarikandam, in the region of the Indian Ocean. It is believed to have occurred more than once, possibly three times.
During these upheavals and submergence, the region South of the Thamparaparani River got severed and formed a rocky terrain with green paddy fields, called the “Eela Thesam”. During the convulsion, a three cornered hillock (Tri-kona-malai) was uprooted and flung by the avalanche, and got lodged along the NorthEast Coast of Eela Thesam.
As this “Trikonamalai” was surprisingly directly South of Mount Kailash of the Himalayan Mountain range, it became known as “Dakshana Kailash” or Kailash of the South.
In Puranic extravaganza. Lord Shiva, accompanied by the Devas, Rishies and several others, is said to have taken his abode here on Trikonamalai and restored calm weather. Originating thus, Dakshana Kailash or Thiru kona malai soon became a holy place; as Shiva or Eshwaran took his abode here, it is therefore an Eshwaram of the three-cornered hill or Thiru-Kon-Eshwaram, or Koneshwaram.
Pallava Cultural Influence
The Pallava era saw a resurgence of Hindu religious devotion. Their capitals Kanchipuram and Amaravathi were seats of learning and sculpture. They excelled in sculpture and are remembered today for their temples in stone architecture.
Their cultural influence spread to distant lands in South East Asia. It became well established in medieval Ceylon, due to the friendly relationship between the Rulers. Inspiring examples are yet to be seen at:
- Remnants of ancient pillars at Koneshwaram
- Isurumuniya Rock Temple, near Anuradhapura
- Man and the Horse, rock sculpture
- Elephants in the water, rock sculpture
- Isurumuniya Lovers, rock sculpture, and the
- Gedige Temple at Nalanda
Advent of Kulakoddan (436 A.C)
Chola Kankan, a Prince, arrived here on pilgrimage, in keeping with a parental vow and found the temple all broken down. He immediately took steps to rebuild the temple in magnificent Pallava architecture. He founded the Papa Nasa Theertham and also built a large irrigation tank at Kantalai. He invited forty Vanniya family clans from India, to cultivate the lands under the tank and sustain the maintenance of the temple complex he had erected. Posterity has crowned him with the epithet name of “Kulakkoddan” (Builder of Tank and Temple). Lt. Col. C.P. Thomas, R.A. a modern administrator-author writes, “A Prince came along, and hearing that the Rock of Trincomalee was a fragment of The Golden Mountain of Meru hurled there during the conflict of the Gods, erected on it a Temple for Shiva”. Truly Kulakoddan was an “Emissary” of the Lord and his advent was by Divine Grace.
Tamil Kings ruling at Anuradhapura
The Tamil Kings who reigned in ancient Anuradhapura sponsored Hindu places of worship; they also made large endowments. The two landmarks of Tamil Saiva literature “Kanda Puranam” and “Dakshana Kailasa Puranam” were later composed; they were based on “Skanda Purana”, a Sanskrit narrative of the exploits of God Skanda Kumar, the Divine Youth.
Saiva Saint Thiru Gnana Sampanthar (circa 6th century A.C.)
The Saiva Saint Thiru Gnana Sampanthar, in his pilgrimage to Shiva Sthalams, made his obeisance before Konainathar, and offered a garland (“pathikam”) of precious Thevaram verses, in praise of the Lord who has taken His abode at Kona-ma-malai.
The Chola Regime: The Golden Fra of Saivism (both – 12th centuries)
During the golden period of the Chola regime, Hindu Saivaism reached its zenith. In Ceylon, Hindu temples were erected wherever Hindus resided in large numbers. Trincomalee region figured prominently at that time, due to its proximity to the Indian continent. The magnificent Koneshwaram temple and the adjacent region formed a great Principality under a Vanniya as Governor. Residents in this collective community were allotted services, which they had to perform at the Koneshwaram temple.
Jata Varma Pandyan 11(1263 A.C.) at Koneshwaram
The Pandyan co-Ruler defeated the King of Lanka and planted the Pandyan Ensign, with the “Double Fish” emblem at Kona-ma-malai. The Ensign may be seen today at the entrance to Fort Frederick.
The Sthala Puranam describes the location at that time as “Kona ma-malai, around which the ocean waves swept pearls, gold, precious stones, and shells from the depth of the ocean and heaped them along the shore”
The Temple was well supported by the local residents. A large Tamil stone inscription of the thirteenth century, seen even today at Kankuveli village, records the assignment of income from the rice fields and benefits from other lands in the village, to Konanayakar of Kona -ma malai.
Ariya Chakravarthy Kings of Jaffna (1215 – 1620)
The Tamil Kings of Jaffna, paid homage at Koneshwaram, They offered gifts of gold and silver. One of them, Jayaweera Singai Aryan Sega Raja Sekaram V (1380-1410 A.C.), had the traditional history of the temple compiled as a chronicle in verse, entitled “Dakshana Kailasa Puranam”. That precious work is accepted today as the Sthala Puranam of Koneshwaram Temple.Saint Arunagiri Natha Swamikal (circa 1468) on his way to Kadirkamam, paid homage here. This devotee and Bard of Sri Murukan (Skanda Kumaran) worshipped at Koneshwaram and offered a garland of Thiru Pukal verses, in praise of the Sthalam. “The population” he quoted, “at Koneshwaram, where the deep ocean rolled its furious waves, was vast, the temple well organised and the priests well versed in the “Four Vedas” – Thiru Pukal.
Koneshwaram in Mediaeval Splendour (1400-1500)
Large numbers of pilgrims visited the temple for venerating Lord Konainathar and Mathumai Ambal. The name and fame of Koneshwaram spread far and wide and gained high renown. “It was esteemed as one of the richest temples in South East Asia, having in its possession much gold, pearls, precious stones and silks endowed over thousand years”. it was a veritable treasure to tempt any marauding maritime power to covet its wealth.
The Portuguese in Ceylon
The Portuguese came to Ceylon in 1505 and soon embarked on their “Temporal and Spiritual conquest of the Island”. Soon after, many Hindu Temples were looted and destroyed.
Koneshwaram Temple destroyed -1624
The much-valued Koneshwaram temple was first looted on Hindu New Year Day, Friday the 14th of April 1624. Thereafter, Constantine de Sa razed the temple structure to the ground, blasting some of it into the ocean (remnants of which are being recovered even in the 1990’s). In his dispatch to the King of Portugal, Constantine described: “The land of the Pagoda is 600 fathoms long and 80 feet at its broadest, narrowing to 30 feet. Regarding the prophetic inscription, he added. “When I went there to make this Fort, I pound engraved on the Pagoda, among many other inscriptions, one that ran thus: Kulakoddan has built this pagoda…”
A site plan of the temple area prepared by a Portuguese author states: “On the first rise to the summit of the rock was a Pagoda, another at mid-ascent, and the most famous of them all at the highest eminence.”
With the stones recovered by blasting Koneshwaram temple, the Portuguese erected a triangular fortress, on Kona-ma-malai, which was named “Pagoda Hill” by them. The fortress lasted only a couple of years.
The British take Trincomalee.
The British captured the Fort, from the Dutch, after a six-day siege. The Hindus at Kona-ma malai, with the permission of the British Military who were in occu pation of the Fort recommenced restricted worship.
Frederick, Duke of York and son of King George lil, who occupied the Fort as Commander of the Garrison, gave it the new designation of Fort Frederick, by which name it continues to be known even today.
Worship on Swami Rock
Worship was then allowed from Swami Rock only on certain days. The devotees gathered outside Fort Frederick and were escorted to Swami Rock; when the rituals of an ad hoc pu ja were over, they were escorted out. But the restrictions were soon relaxed.
Upsurge of Hinduism in the 1950s
With the restoration of the ancient Palavi Theertham at Thiruketheeshwaram, there was an upsurge of Hinduism, all over the Island. At Trincomalee, several vigrakams were unearthed while excavating a trench, in 1950. These were taken in procession around the Island and finally installed at Koneshwaram.
The temple structure that we see today at the site was soon commenced and completed in 1963.
Naguleshwaram [see also Naguleswaram Temple Restoration]
Keerimalai Springs & Maviddapuram
Naguleshwaram (on the left as it was, and on the right, as it is today, after the armed conflict) was one of the celebrated ancient five Shiva Sthalams known to have existed even before the Vijayan era. It was situated on the northern seacoast of the Jaffna Peninsula, about three kilometres west of Kankesanturai. The ancient temple is now no more, only a rocky cave can now be seen at the site, about a kilometre east of Keerimalai. However, the modern Shivan Kovil at Keerimalai, known as Naguleshwaram, perpetuates the ancient name.
Keerimalai is a well-known bathing ghat. Keeri means “Mongoose” and malai is a “hill”; hence literally, “The Mongoose Hill”. Tradition has it that once a Munivar spent his days performing tapas in a cave in these rocky hills and having ablutionary baths in the waters of the springs.
Due to his severe austerities, he gradually shrank physically, so much so that he became referred to as Nagula Munivar (Nagula = a mongoose in Sanskrit).
Eventually the rock also got the name of Nagula Giri (Giri =rock in Sanskrit) The location became a sacred sthalam with the name of Naguleshwaram. Thereafter, according to tradition and history, several afflicted persons sought cure here, by having curative baths in the spring waters of Nagula Giri (Sanskrit) or Keeri Malai (Tamil).
Maviddapuram and Kovil Kadavai
Maviddapuram is situated about a mile south of Kankesanturai. Kovil Kadavai was the original name of the Maviddapuram region; it forms with Naguleshwaram (Keerimalai) and Kasathurai (Kankesanturai), a celebrated triangular region of ancient fame.
According to tradition thither came Chola Princess Marutha Piravika Valli, daughter of Thissai Ukkira Cholan.
She was afflicted with a congenital disease, which affected her facial appearance. All medical treatment having failed she took to pilgrimage to sacred sthalams. Sage Shanthi Linga Munivar, pitying her plight advised her to proceed to Keerimalai, near Kovil Kadavai, where the Lord of Naguleshwaram was presiding and to perform daily theertham baths in the sacred fresh water spring there.
Marutha Piravika.Valli at Kovil Kadavai
She arrived at Kovil Kadavai with her retinue of escorts and maids in attendance and took up residence in proximity to the theertha sthalam, at a locality, which even today is referred to as Kumarathi Pallam. Her daily obeisance and the curative value of the medicinal waters of the fresh water spring gradually helped her to rid of the facial horse-like affliction.
In her daily journeys to the theertha sthalam, she noticed an old man by the name of Sadaiyanar venerating with daily pu jas a silver Vel. the emblem of God Skanda Kumaran, placed in a cove on a mango tree. she made a vow then. she felt the divine urge to build a proper temple for housing the deity and informed her father of her resolve. Very soon sthapathy architects and craftsmen arrived from Chola Nadu and erected a magnificent Kandaswamy Temple.
In due course, Maruthapiravika Valli married Ukkira Singan, a Kalinga King (8th century) of Kathiramalai (Kanterodai) Jaffna. who had asked for her hand.
New place Names
A Skanda Vigrakam “Kankeyan” was brought from India and landed at Kasaturai (consequently the place assumed today’s name of Kankesanturai). it was installed with proper Kumba Abishekam ceremonies on ani-uthiram day in the ninth century.
Priests, who came from India, Iooked after the affairs of the temple and maintained it to a high standard. The name of the place was also changed from Kovil Kadavai to Maviddapuram.
Shri S. Arumugam
Shruthi Laya Shangham gratefully acknowledges Shri Arumugam’s contribution in compiling the history of the five Shiva Sthalams of ancient Ceylon.
Shri S. Arumugam was born in Nallur, Jaffna. He obtained a Science Degree from the University College, Ceylon in 1928 and then proceeded to Kings College, London, UK, where he obtained a Degree in Civil Engineering in 1931. After graduating, he worked for the Manchester City water supply works, and then returned to Sri Lanka in 1933 where he joined the Irrigation Department and finally retired as Deputy Director in 1965.
His work in the Irrigation Department required him to travel widely in Sri Lanka, and this gave him the opportunity to study about the ancient Hindu temples in all parts of the country. He has also studied Hindu temples in India during his several visits. Apart from his technical publications (he was President of the Institution of Engineers, Sri Lanka) his published works connected with temples include “Some Ancient Hindu Temples of Sri Lanka (1980), “The Lord of Thiruketheeshwaram”(1981), “Thiru Koneshwaram” (1990), “Stone Scupitures in Colombo Hindu Temple” (1990) etc.