Trincomalee visitIf you only visit one sight in Trincomalee, make it the colorful Koneswaram temple. Surrounded by the dramatic Swami Rock and Gokarna Bay, the classical-medieval complex is Trinco’s biggest draw. The site is a major Hindu pilgrimage center, and one of the Pancha Ishwarams (five abodes of Shiva) was built in Sri Lanka to honor one of the principal deities of Hinduism. The Koneswaram Kovil is a rebuilt, clifftop Hindu temple that is dedicated to Siva. It’s located above Fort Frederick on Swami Rock, at the edge of the Indian Ocean. Tourists who are looking for a place that has stunning views of Trinco can get all of that here and more. The temple is beautifully designed with intricate details, carved figurines, and colors that make it a splendid sight to see and experience. There was in times, long past a magnificent temple dedicated to Konath or Konasir on the cliff. 400 feet above the sea, at the Southern extremity of the peninsula that separates the inner from the outer harbor. British and other European writers of the 18th and 19th centuries refer to this shrine…

The Koneswaram temple is one of the main highlights of the east coast of Sri Lanka in Trincomalee. The temple is located high above the bay, and you can view the breathtaking and awe-inspiring scenery on all sides. The site is a religious pilgrimage for the Hindus and is also known as the Kailasa of the South. The Koneswaram temple is one of the five “Pancha Ishwarams” (abodes of Shiva) which has been built to worship Lord Shiva- the supreme God of Hinduism.


The original construction of the temple dates back to 400 B.C.E., later to the 5th century, and finally to the 18th century. The temple’s complex was considered to be one of the most ancient combinations of architecture and ornamentation. The original temple had beautiful features of a thousand-pillared hall and a raised platform which was later destroyed. Koneswaram gets its name from the chief deity of the temple that is God Shiva, who is also known as someone who reigns over the mountains. The name ‘Konam’ is believed to have come from the Old Tamil word meaning ‘peak’.

The restoration work of the temple was completed by the year 1963, with many of the old pieces being reinstalled. Although the temple does not match up to the grandeur as the ancient times, it remains a favourite place of visit for both Hindus as well as non-Hindus. The journey for pilgrims in the town begins at the opening of Konesar Road and follows a path through courtyard shrines of the compound to the deities Bhadrakali, Ganesh, Vishnu Thirumal, Surya, Raavana, Ambal-Shakti, Murukan and Shiva who preside at the peninsula’s height.

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History of Koneswaram Temple

A stone inscription found in the 17th century states that the temple was built in 1580 B.C.E. After that the temple remained a well-established structure till the arrival of the Prince Vijayan during the 6th century B.C.E. However, the real rise of the temple occurred in 205 B.C.E. when the Chola kings built it as a vast temple city which was surrounded by many smaller temples.

The temple was also well known to the Portuguese, but it was destroyed by the 17th century since they wanted to strengthen their influence by building a fort in Trincomalee. The Jaffna kings refused to help with the making of the fort, which resulted in a war between them. The Portuguese took their revenge by destroying over 500 Hindu temples and other structures in the city.

The country was later under the rule of the British. However, the British allowed the pilgrims to visit once again. Once Sri Lanka was free from the control of the British, the restoration process of the temple began once again after over 300 years. The statues were unearthed and reinstated in the temple by the year 1963.

Mythology of Koneswaram Temple

Legend says that Ravana was the king of Lanka for over 5000 years ago. Ravana, along with his mother, was a devoted worshipper of Lord Shiva (Koneswaram). It was also a religious belief that Shiva created the nearby hot springs of Kanniya as part of Thirukoneswaram to perform the last rites of his mother.

Traditional Festivals at Koneswaram Temple

The Koneswaram temple is famous for the celebration of two festivals, that is- Navaratri and Shivarathri functions. The Navratri festival as the name suggests lasts for nine nights in which there are several offerings and celebrations which take place for the various deities. The next is the Shivratri function where many Hindus visit the temple to make their offerings and daily pujas take place. During the festivals, one can find a lively atmosphere where there are many stalls which offer the sale of food, drink, brassware, pottery, cloth and holy images.

However, the main highlight is the Thirukoneswaram Ther Thiruvilah Festival, which is a chariot festival taking place in April and lasted for 22 days. The main focus of the festival is to prepare the deities and community for Puthandu, the Tamil New Year. During the festival, the gods and other artefacts are bathed in the holy water which is later sprinkled upon the devotees.

How To Reach

One can reach the temple on the way to Fort Frederick and follow the path which is lined by shops. Going ahead, you will come across the courtyard shrines, which will lead you to the giant Shiva statue at the peninsula.

You can also reach the place by bus from the Central bus station, which is a distance of not more than 2km. You can choose to hire a tuk-tuk, rent a bicycle or even go on foot.

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