Naguleswaran Hindu shrine which is located in the northernmost city of Sri Lanka is dating back to more than twenty centuries. Even though there had been some difficult time for the shrine during the Portuguese rule in the island, in which the temple was completely destroyed. Sacred elements of the shrine were hidden by the fleeing priests at the time of destruction. Some of the valuable possessions of the temple were hidden in the seabed. Local people were also helped the priests to protect the valuable from the invading Portuguese army.
Temple was rebuilt on the same location in the 19th century and today it is one of the most popular pilgrimage sites in northern Sri Lanka. Today most of the sacred elements are recovered, from where they were hidden and placed in their proper places within the temple. Historical evidence such as chronicles and inscriptions have helped the archaeologists to determine the exact story of the temple in the past.
Naguleswaram Hindu temple was dedicated to God Siva and located in the popular seaport of Dambakola. Tiruketheeswaram and Tirukoneswaram being other popular Hindu temples in the nearby places are also dedicated to God Siva and they are located in other popular seaports in the northern Sri Lanka Mantai and Trincomalee respectively. It is said that the merchant from all the parts of the world gather to these temples and offered some offering with various other poojas to get the blessings of God.
The inscription that found in the first capital of Sri Lanka (Anuradhapura) dating back to 2nd Century BC, suggest that Navika Damila (Tamil traders) were having a dominant position on the trading in the island were the custodian of these three shrines. It had been a major pilgrimage site even that time and it is a valuable place with great antiquity, tradition, history and reputation.
Being located in the main trade route of the world between Rome and China (main trade partners in that time), a large number of traders used to call over at Sri Lankan ports to get their essential items to need for the journey. Gradually started trading activities in the ports of the island saved the time and curtailed the journey of traders from East and West and later on Sri Lanka became the hub of the ancient trade in the Indian Ocean.
The Naguleswaram Temple is considered as one of the oldest Siva temples in the island. The temple was built close to the ancient port of Jambukola Pattuna or Dambakola Patuna (present Kankasanthurai). Other than the economic significance the port had been a major important place in the sense of religion. Arahat Mahinda, who introduced Buddhism to the island landed in the port of Dabmakola in 250 BC and the Theri (female monk) Sanghamitta who brought the sapling of Bo-tree also believed to be landed in the same port. The temple has a Keerimala, a natural spring with curative value. The temple is built around a cave which believed to be inhabited by the legendary figure of Nagulamuni and natural spring.