Jaffna’s most notable sight is the large Nallur Kandaswamy Temple, about 2km northeast of the town centre. Dedicated to Murugam (known to the Buddhist Sinhalese as Kataragama), this is the most impressive Hindu temple in Sri Lanka, and the only one on the island to rival the great shrines of India. The original temple is thought to date back to the mid-fifteenth century, though it was destroyed in 1620 by the Portuguese. The present structure was begun in 1807 and has now developed into an enormous religious complex, surrounded by red-and-white striped walls. There are numerous shrines inside, richly decorated corridors framed in rows of golden arches and a beautiful courtyard with a large tank. Men must remove their shirts before entering. There are no fewer than six pujas daily, with three between 4pm and 5pm, the best time to visit.

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