One of the few temples dedicated to Shiva on the island, Munneswaram Temple is an important place of pilgrimage. The main shrine houses a lingam (a phallic symbol representing Shiva) in its inner sanctum. The complex also has a number of the shrines dedicated to other Hindu gods as well as a Buddhist shrine.
The temple was destroyed by the Portuguese on a couple of the occasions. It was later rebuilt before undergoing renovation in the 19th century and then again in the 20th century. Hence, certain sections of the temple look newer than others.
Munneswaram is also the venue for a month-long local festival that takes place in August and September. Pilgrims come to make their offerings and chariots are paraded around the complex and through Chilaw town, located about 4 km (2 miles) to the west of the temple.
Those wanting to visit the temple must ensure they are modestly dressed, and remove their shoes before entering the complex. more