Goddess Nagapooshani/Bhuvaneshwari (Parvathi Devi)

Temple History

Nainativu Nagapooshani Amman Temple (Tamil: ) is an ancient and historic Hindu temple located amidst the Palk Strait on the small island Nainativu 36 kms from Jaffna city of Sri Lankan Northern Province.

This temple is dedicated to Goddess Parvati who is known as Nagapooshani or Bhuvaneswari here and her consort, Lord Shiva who is named here as Nayinaar. Sati Devi’s Anklets are believed to have fallen here. Anklets have been given immense importance in the worship of Shakti since time and memorial. This ornament is also referred to in the famous Tamil epic Silapathikaram – where the story begins and ends with an anklet.

Nainathivu or Nainatheevu , (also known as Manidweepam, Manipallavam, or Nagadeepa) is a small but notable island off the coast of Jaffna Peninsula in the Sri Lankan Northern Province. The name of the island alludes to its aboriginal inhabitants, the Nayanair or Naka people. It is home to the ancient Hindu shrine of Shree Nagapooshani (Bhuvaneswari) Amman; one of the prominent Shakti Peethas, and the Buddhist shrine Naga Vihare. Garuda and Nagas were reported to have resolved their differences here. Indra consecrated this temple.

The temple's fame is accredited to Adi Shankaracharya, a 9th-century Hindu philosopher, for identifying it as one of the prominent 64 Shakti Peethams in Shakti Peetha Stotram and its mention in the Brahmanda Purana. The temple complex houses four gopurams (gateway towers) ranging from 20–25 feet in height, to the tallest being the eastern Raja Raja Gopuram soaring at 108 feet high. The temple is a significant symbol for the Tamil people, and has been mentioned since antiquity in Tamil literature, such as Manimekalai and Kundalakesi. The present structure was built during 1720 to 1790 after the ancient structure was destroyed by the Portuguese in 1620.

The Nainativu Nagapoosani Amman Temple is believed to be originally established by Lord Indra while seeking alleviation from the curse of Gautama Maharishi. The Sanskrit epic Mahabharata records that Lord Indra was overcome by his sexual desires for Ahalya, the wife of Gautama Maharishi. Indra disguised himself as the saint and proceeded to seduce and make love to Ahalya. When the saint came to know, he cursed Indra to have a thousand marks resembling the yoni (female reproductive organ) all over his body. Indra was ridiculed and referred to as Sa-yoni. Unable to face the humiliation, he went into exile to the island of Manidweepa (Nainativu). There, he is believed to have created, consecrated and worshiped the moolasthana murti of the Goddess to atone for his sins. The Queen of the Universe, Bhuvaneswari Amman, satisfied with Indra’s utmost devotion, repentance and remorse appeared before him and transformed they yonis on his body into eyes. She then took on the name of “Indrakshi” (Indra Eyed).

Another legend states that, many centuries later, a cobra (Nagam) was swimming across the sea towards Nainativu from the nearby island of Puliyantivu with a lotus flower in its mouth, for the worship of Bhuvaneswari Amman (who had already been consecrated by Indra). An eagle (Garuda) spotted the cobra and attempted to attack it and kill it. Fearing harm from the eagle, the cobra wound itself around a rock (referred to in Tamil as; Paambu Sutriya Kal “the Rock around which the Snake wound itself”) in the sea about half a kilometer from the Nainativu coast, and the eagle stood on another rock (Garudan Kal “the Rock of the Eagle”) some distance away. A merchant by the name of Maanikan from the Chola kingdom; who was himself a devotee of Sri Bhuvaneswari Amman, was sailing across the Palk Strait to trade with the ancient Naka Nadu noticed the eagle and the cobra perched upon said rocks. He pleaded with the eagle to let the cobra go on its way without any harm. The eagle agreed with one condition that the merchant should construct a beautiful temple for Sri Bhuvaneswari Amman on the island of Nainativu and that he shall propagate her worship in the form of Sri Nagapooshani Amman for universal peace, prosperity and humanity. He agreed and built a beautiful temple accordingly. The eagle took three dips into the ocean to atone for its sins against the Nagas in the Mahabharata, and hence, the Garuda and Naga resolved their longstanding feuds.

15 priests perform rituals in the temple on a daily basis and for specific festive occasions. There are 6 pooja (rituals) held every day: sacred bath, decoration, food offering, and waving of lamps, all accompanied by musical instruments, around the giant mandala (circular pattern) in the center of the temple.

Major Hindu festivals like Navratri and Shivratri grandly celebrated here. The temple attracts huge crowd of visitors during these festivals.


Additional Information

Major Hindu festivals like Navratri and Shivratri attract thousands of devotees. Aadi Pooram, the day Parvati is said to have attained puberty, and become a mother to all her devotees is marked in grand manner at this temple.

The annual 16-day Mahostavam (Thiruvizha) festival celebrated during the Tamil month of Aani (June/July) which attracts huge crowd of pilgrims.

Best hotels and accommodation facilities are available in Jaffna city for the visitors.

Jaffna city is well connected with all the major cities of Srilanka. Jaffna is the nearest city to reach this island.

One can reach Nainativu by boat from Jaffna. There are small boats are operating as passenger boats while a larger one is operating with large seating capacity with lower deck and upper deck facility. From Jaffna, local buses run to Kurikaadduvaan, where the ferry departs from (the crossing takes around 20 minutes). One Government Bus is operating from Nainativu.

On approaching Nainativu, your boat may, first proceed to a jetty opposite the Buddhist temple if there are any Buddhist pilgrims. Pilgrims to the Buddhist temple would get off the boat at that jetty. Thereafter, your ferry would proceed to the jetty opposite the Nagapooshani Amman Kovil which would be the final destination for the launch, and the remaining passengers on your launch would get off there.

Jaffna Railway Station is 35.7 kms only from Nainativu.

Jaffna Airport is the nearest airport in 53.8 km
  • 6:00 am to 8:00 pm
  • Contact Person: Temple Office
  • Contact Number: (+94) 021 321 3024, 021 320 7785