After annihilation of Ravan when Shrirama leaves for Ayodhya in The pushpak airplane, He realises that a black cloud is following them. At that juncture Deity Shiva manifests and tells Shrirama that this black cloud symbolises the sin of annihilating a Brahman (priest). As Ravan was a Brahman, Deity Shiva tells Shrirama to worship Deity Shiva at a place where there are five Deities, in Srilanka, to nullify the sin arising from his annihilation. Shrirama obeys Him. The five Deities temples are Keteeswaram, Tondiswaram, Munneswaram, Koneswaram and Naguleswaram. Of these the Tondiswaram temple is submerged due to the rise of the sea level. Let us learn about Keteeswaram temple of these five Deities temples.
1. History of the Keteeswaram temple
Keteeswaram is very famous among the five Holy places of Deity Shiva and is situated in North Srilanka at a distance of 10 kilometres from Mannar city in Mannar District. In the Tretayug this region of Srilanka was known as Lankapuri. On the coastal strip of ‘Mandai’ was the ‘Bandar city’. Maharshi Mayan the father of Mandodari lived here. He had installed a Shivalinga here and would worship it every day. Later Maharshi Bhrugu visited this place and worshipped it. Later as the planet Ketu performed ritualistic worship here this place came to be known as ‘Keteeswaram’. It is one of the 275 main Holy places of Deity Shiva and today is known as ‘Thiruketeeswaram’. Thiru means Shri. Information on Keteeswaram in Lankapuri is found in the Skand Puran. Mannar comes after crossing Keteeswaram and Ramsetu is 30 kilometres from there. The Keteeswaram temple too is close to the sea. In the Tretayug after annihilating Ravan, to nullify the sin of killing a Brahman (knower of Brahman), Shrirama performed ritualistic worship of the Shivalinga at Keteeswaram. It is believed that at that time, Shrirama had bathed in the pond named ‘Pallavi’ in front of the temple.
2. Invasion of Keteeswaram temple
by the Portuguese , and destroying the
Shivalinga and temple surroundings and using
the stones from the temple to construct forts and a church
In the year 150,5 the Portuguese attacked the Mannar city. They razed all the Hindu temples from Mannar City. then That time they also destroyed the Shivalinga, and the surroundings of Keteeswaram temple. Thereafter they commenced spread of Christianity. In the year 1589 they used the stones from Keteeswaram temple to construct a fort and church in Mannar and another fort in ‘Kates’ village. This gives an idea of approximately how huge that temple was in those days.
3. In the excavation conducted
by the British the original spot of the
temple and the ancient Shivalinga was traced.
During the Tamil war in Srilanka, the Srilankan army
took this temple into its custody and converted it into an
army base, which was destroyed in the war and now is being
reconstructed with assistance from the Bharat Government !
‘Between the year 1505 and 1894 no one knew the exact venue of the temple. In 1894 during the excavation conducted by the British, the original place of the temple, ancient Shivalinga and idols of the family of Deities were traced. In 1910 with the initiative of a local Hindu leader, Arumug Navalra, a small temple was built there. In 1948 as Hindus from North Srilanka did a huge agitation for the reconstruction of the temple due to which the Srilankan Government was compelled to construct a temple there. Later in 1990 during the Tamil war in Srilanka, the Srilankan army took this temple into its custody and converted it into an army base. The temple was destroyed in the war. Now since the past 5 years this temple is being reconstructed with the help of the Bharat Government.
4. A devout Hindu Mr. Natesanji made
arrangements for Sadguru (Mrs.) Anjali Gadgil to
see the temple The temple trustees gave her all the
information about the temple and showed her the temple under
construction and asked for her advice about any changes required in it!
When Sadguru (Mrs.) Anjali Gadgil was visiting Mannar City on behalf of Maharshi Adhyatma Vishwavidyalay, a devout Hindu from there Mr. Natesanji made arrangements for her darshan of the temple. When she arrived at the temple the chief priest of the temple and the temple trustees were present there. A trustee Mr. Ramakrishna gave her all the information on history of the temple, its present state, assistance given by Bharat Government in constructing the temple and also showed her the inner part of the temple under construction the temple pemises. The trustees then requested her to advice them if any changes were required. After that they gifted the Maharshi Adhyatma Vishwavidyalay old writing and books on architecture of the temple.
5. Mr. Selvanathan from
Chennai, the re-constructor of the temple has
offered to give any information about the science
of architecture to Maharshi Adhyatma Vishwavidyalay
We met Mr. Selvanathan from Chennai who is looking over the rebuilding of the temple. He informed that the stones and workers required for this project have been brought from Bharat. He said that if Maharshi Adhyatma Vishwavidyalay requires any information regarding architecture, then he is willing to give it or would even give us old Holy texts in that regard. Thismade us realise that our plan to go to Keteeswaram was indeed Divine and that we were able to meet Mr. Selvanathan only due to grace of the Guru.’