The central and the chief temple is devoted to Lord Shiva and is considered the primary attraction of the site. The opulent structure is also the largest of the six temples. There are two other important temples dedicated to god Ganesh and goddess Kali. The temple of Kali Mani is popular among the Buddhist as well as the Roman Catholics of the region. The temple revered by the Sinhalese is dedicated to Ayyanayake Deviyo, a powerful Buddhist deity.
The ancient legends involving the temple complex create a sense of mystery and enchantment making the grounds seems all the more secular. The Tamil legends talk of the epic battle between King Rama, the hero of the Ramayana and Rawana, the demon king of Lanka. It is said that the Munneswaram Temple was built on the exact place where King Rama prayed to Lord Shiva after his victory over the demon king. The Sinhalese believe that Munneswaram is where Kali Mani landed from India. The tale continues to state that another Sinhalese goddess prevented Kali Mani from devouring the people and made her settle in Munneswaram. The temple of Kali is thus associated with vengeance and sorcery.
The temple that flourished under the time of the Kotte Kingdom was destroyed by the Portuguese during its colonization of Ceylon. Although the Jesuits built a chapel over the temple foundation, the devout locals reconstructed the temple both times. The temple celebrates many festivals including the Navarathri festival and the Sivarathri festival. While the nine-day long Navarathri is held in reverence of Kali Mani, the Sivarathri is an overnight celebration held in honor of Lord Shiva. The grandest event on the temple’s calendar is the Munneswaram festival, a four-week long celebration honored by the Hindus, Buddhists, Catholics and even the Muslims of the country.
The best time to visit the region is during the annual Munneswaram festival, held in the months of August and September, over the period of 28 days. As Munneswaram is a village accommodation is scarce. But superior lodging could be found at any hotel in Negambo, further south, closer to Colombo. Club Hotel Dolphin is a superior and recognized Negambo hotel that will provide a convenient stay during your visit to the sacred Munneswaram Temple.