Koneswaram Temple Trincomalee
400 feet above the sea, at the southern extremity of the peninsula that separates the inner from the outer Trincomalee harbour, lies a magnificent temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. Referred to by European writers of the 18th and 19th centuries as the ‘Temple of a Thousand Pillars’, it is a site revered by Hindu pilgrims.
According to legend, a Hindu Prince sailed to Sri Lanka to erect a temple to Shiva on Swami Rock, after he learnt from the Puranas that it was a fragment of the holy Mount Meru. The temple became popularly known as Koneswaram Temple Trincomalee.
As it is one of the main harbours in which seafarers in the Bay of Bengal laid anchor, Trincomalee is believed to be a settlement of early Indo-Aryan migrants. The Pallava, Pandyan, and Chola dynasties are believed to have lavished the temple with wealth to maintain it in all its splendour.
Once one of the most frequented places of worship in the region, in 1622, the Portuguese General Constantine de Saa razed the temple to the ground and used its hallowed stones to build Fort Frederick, which still stands today. Since then, a temple was built within the fort walls and is highly venerated by Hindus and Buddhist pilgrims alike.